Two months into the season, do the Tigers have the league's best offense?

Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder lead the league's top scoring offense - Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

One third of the season is in the books, and the Tigers lead the American league in batting average, hits, and runs scored per game.

Here is a look at how the Tigers rank among American League teams in various offensive categories through games of June 1st, after 54 games.

Batting:

Category 2013 AL Rank 2012 Rank
Runs Scored 5.24 First 4.48 6th
Batting Average .278 First .268 3rd
On Base Pct .347 First .335 2nd
Slugging Pct .431 5th .422 4th
wOBA .339 3rd .328 4th
Hits 544 First 1467 4th
Doubles 97 8th 279 5th
Triples 9 7th 39 First
Home Runs 61 7th 163 10th
ISO (Isolated power) .153 11th .154 10th
Extra base hits 167 9th 481 7th
Stolen Bases 18 Last 59 13th
Caught Stealing 3 Last (Best)
23 Last (best)
Stolen Base Pct 86% First 72% 10th
Strikeout Pct 17.0% 14th 18.0% 10th
BB% 9.1 % 3rd 8.4% 5th
GIDP 41 9th 156 1st
Contact Pct 81.0% 6th 80.6% 6th
Intentional BB 7 3rd 46 1st
Sacrifice Bunts 4 9th 36 3rd
Hit by pitch 5 15th 57 5th

*To get the pace that the Tigers are on, multiply the 2013 number by 3. For example, 61 Home Runs x 3 = 183. The Tigers are on pace for 183 Home Runs. Note that Detroit has played fewer games than some teams in 2013.

So what do these numbers tell us so far?

  • The Tigers are scoring plenty of runs. In fact, the offense leads the league in hits, batting average, and on base percentage.
  • Detroit has both the third best BB rate and the second lowest K rate, giving them the second best BB/ K ratio in the league.
  • The club led the league in grounding into double plays last year, but they have dropped all the way down to 9th this season, actually a bit below the league average.
  • The Tigers are dead last in stolen bases, but at least they're smart enough to know when to run, leading the league in stolen base percentage at 86%.
  • The power numbers are in the middle of the pack, but the team is on pace for more homers and doubles, though fewer triples than in 2012.

Now, let's break down offensive performance by defensive position. We all know where the issues were in 2012.

Position wOBA OPS
Catcher .288/ 12th .681/ 14th
First Base .375/ 4th .865/ 6th
Second Base .303/ 8th .694/ 7th
Third Base .434/ First 1.027/ First
Shortstop .345/ First .799/ First
Right Field .345/ 6th .786/ 6th
Center Field .306/ 10th .687/ 11th
Left Field .320/ 10th .716/ 12th
Designated Hitter .264/ 15th .601/ 15th
Pinch Hitter * .665/ 6th
Team Total .339/ 3rd .778/ 3rd

So, the Tigers are getting excellent production out of third base and shortstop. They have gotten poor offense out of their catcher, left field, and the DH. Right field and first base are above average, and the rest are toward the middle of the pack. Yet they score more runs than any team in the league.

Tiger pinch hitters are hitting just .194, but that's the league average for PH, and the OPS is well above average.

Now, let's look at some situational splits. I promise this is the last chart, for your sake and mine. Just the AL rankings.

Split Average OPS
Home First First
Away 5th 5th
vs Left First 3rd
vs Right 4th 4th
RISP 2nd First
Bases Loaded* 9th 5th
May, 2013 4th 4th

Note that there have been only 52 AB's with the bases loaded, an unreliable sample size, but I have to satisfy curiosity nonetheless. Otherwise, the Tigers are productive across the board in all situations, other than the one we mentioned in this article. Detroit is last in Avg and OPS in the late innings, from the seventh inning on.

SUMMARY

Offense is about scoring runs, and the Tigers are scoring at a league leading pace, over three quarters of a run better than last year's pace, which wasn't too shabby.

What these numbers do not show, but should be plain to most observers, is the fact that the Tigers offense can be a feast or famine operation. One day, they put up double digit runs, and the next day they're being shut down by a mediocre finesse pitcher.

The Tigers have been shut out five times, and in games where they score three runs or less, they're 2- 17.

They also struggle in the late innings to score runs, as we wrote about in this article. Just a total of eight runs in the ninth inning, and the Tigers are 2- 6 in extra inning games. I'm still at a loss to explain that phenomenon.

More Roars:

Monday’s links

GIF of the day: Torii Hunter dupes the umpire

Patrick: Tigers should scrap the closer role

Patrick: Do the Tigers have the league’s best offense?

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