The Tigers are in first place. They lead the Cleveland Indians by a half-game. They have played 92 games.
A ton of super confusing calculations conclude that if the Tigers stick with this pace, they will finish the season with 86.2 wins and 75.8 losses. That’s not great. They will win the division by 0.88 games. Also not great.
That would be unprecedented. Maybe baseball should just join the club and have a lockout. But then we would have to watch boring things. Like watching paint dry, or water boil, or grass grow.
How on earth did the Tigers get to this point?
There are probably 92 reasons why, but I’ll stick with two.
Justin Verlander is the bomb.
Or phat. Or ill. Or dope. Or whatever random word people use these days for “unbelievably good.”
Seriously, Verlander is ridiculous.
In his past seven starts, he has allowed four earned runs. Total.
In 20 starts, he allowed:
- zero runs five times
- one run five times,
- two runs twice
- three runs seven times
In his other start, Verlander allowed six earned runs. But that might have been a typo.
He is so good that even when he hits a batter, the umpire doesn’t believe it. Really, if he had hit Alcides Escobar any more squarely Sunday, there would have been an exit wound.
Verlander is the best pitcher in baseball. Without him, we would be in a three-way fight for second place with the White Sox and Twins.
The AL Central is not the AL East
At this point, the AL Central is not even the AL West.
But the Tigers would be in solid contention in the West. In the East, the Tigers would drowning in forth place. Seven games behind New York and six behind Boston.
Every team in the Central is flawed. Just look:
Cleveland isn’t allowed to win anything. (If they were, LeBron would have stayed.)
Every player on the Twins is out for the season. (Seriously, all of them).
The White Sox have a designated hitter who is hitting 24 points lower than Brandon Inge, has 17 more strikeouts than Austin Jackson and gets booed 10 times louder than Granderson playing for the Yankees at Comerica Park.. ( “24” and “17” are legit, but “10” is made up. It is pretty damn close, though).
The Tigers are far from a perfect team.
But they have been good enough in enough areas of the game at one time — all the time — to be in first place at the break. They may have just the sixth-best record in the American League. But that still makes them the best team in the Central.
Of course, they will have to be a bit better in the second half to win the division.
Seriously, there is no way 86.2 wins is going to be enough.
They will have to win AT LEAST 87.