Stat geeks love to break down a team's performance. How can a team win more games? Score more runs. How can they score more runs? Play Jones in left field instead of Smith. Why play Jones? He should produce 20 more runs per season than Jones. How does he do it? He walks more and hits more doubles. How does he walk more? His swing rate on fastballs outside of the strike zone is 10% less, meaning on average he is swinging at more hittable pitches.
Sometimes we lose sight of the forest for the trees. The occasion of the Tigers' crossing over a .600 winning percentage is a reminder that team performance is what we are after. We want WINS.
The Tigers' winning percentage is the highest in the league. For a few months it was maddening that they had the best run differential in the league, but were winning less than they "should" by some formulas. They have scored 151 runs more than they have allowed, which is the best in both leagues. The baseball version of the Pythagorean Theorem thinks that they are still four games behind where they "should" be. But Pythagoras never met Jose Valverde.
Still looking at the bigger picture, the team, the Tigers are scoring more runs than any another team in the league at 5.15 per game. The Red Sox have scored a few more runs but played four more games, and are second at 5.05 runs per game. But scoring is only half the battle. The 1993 Tigers* led the league with 5.55 runs per game, but finished in third place by allowing nearly as many. Twenty years later, the Tigers are nearly leading in run prevention as well. The Royals are allowing 3.80 runs per game while the Tigers are allowing 3.81 runs per game.
Getting to a .602 winning percentage has them on track for 98 wins, which should be plenty to win the division. Jose Iglesias should be able to prevent a few runs and move the Tigers into first place in runs allowed. Scoring more runs and allowing fewer than any other team is a sure formula for success.
*The 1993 Tigers could in theory field this team:
catcher - Mickey Tettleton
first base - Cecil Fielder
second base - Lou Whitaker
shortstop - Alan Trammell
third base -Travis Fryman
left field - Tony Phillips
center field - Eric Davis
right field - Kirk Gibson
designated hitter - Rob Deer
Tettleton and Phillips were underrated in the pre-Moneyball days. From 1990 to 1994, Phillips averaged over 5 bWAR for Detroit.