Tigers playoff odds on the rise after first month of the season

The Tigers entered the year seen as pretenders. Where do they stand after their unexpected start?
Apr 28, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA;  Detroit Tigers right fielder Wenceel Perez (46) celebrates
Apr 28, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Tigers right fielder Wenceel Perez (46) celebrates / Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Expectations were a bit low for the Detroit Tigers at the start of the season, with the projection models showing another sub-.500 season likely, with the kind of near-zero playoff odds you'd expect to see for a below-average team.

Fast forward to the start of May. The Tigers entered the month with 17 wins, the second most at that point in franchise history and trailing only the 1984 Tigers. (Starting the season in late March did assist that some, to be fair.) Still, that's some good company. The last time the Tigers were even .500 or better through April was 2017.

On Wednesday, the Tigers picked up their 18th win and today are just a half-game behind the Royals and two games behind the Guardians in the AL Central standings. That also put them at five games over .500 for the first time since 2014.

While you can't earn a playoff spot this early in the season, you can certainly increase the difficulty level greatly. The Tigers avoided that.

Detroit Tigers playoff odds today (May 3)

So with that in mind, it's worth at least glancing at the playoff odds while fully knowing there are five months left of games to be played.

As of Friday, ahead of a key three-game series with the Yankees, the Detroit Tigers playoff odds are 38.3% at FanGraphs with 17.5% chances of winning the division. Two teams sit above them: The Guardians, who started the season hot, are at 45.7% chances of making the playoffs and 24.7% chances of winning the division. The Twins, who started the season cold then got hot, remain the favorites at 67.3% chances of making the playoffs and 45.9% chances of winning the division.

The Tigers' projected win total is currently 82.4.

At Baseball Prospectus, PECOTA is not a believer. Their projection is for the Tigers to win 80 games, with just an 18.4% chance of making the playoffs and 6.6% chance of winning the division. The Twins again are overwhelming favorites in both.

Entering the season, Tigers fans themselves weren't overly optimistic, so it's not a surprise to see where they stand in the projections. This looked like a team that would be around .500, with the upside probably a couple of games over and the floor a couple of games under if too many things went wrong.

Early in the season, we've seen bright points, with a strong rotation and above-average bullpen. But we've also seen a lineup that can disappear at times and has wasted several great starts by pitchers already. If the Tigers can find a way to fix that, they'll contend into the late season and just might surprise us. If not, they should still be fun but just not that fun.

The big picture: this team is ahead of schedule. It wasn't supposed to contend this year and it's making a case for itself. Just having a reason to look at playoff odds again for the first time in years is proof enough that this is a different kind of year for Tigers fans.