Does a "W" shape mean something in investment-price patterns? I seem to remember it does. In baseball confidence polls, it just means the fans are as streaky as the team. Just as soon as the Tigers started winning, they lost seven in a row. After they forgot how to win, they took five out of six on the road.
This week's confidence in the team came in at 67, a tad shy of the "in the division hunt" area of our poll but certainly close. In fact, 37% of voters gave the team 70 for the most frequent vote. Another 21% voted higher than 70. So that means nearly 60% of the voters believe the Tigers have a good shot at winning the division. (Which is interesting, because Baseball Prospectus puts the team's chances at about 50% today.)
Why? Not just the winning. But the play of three players in particular give you hope.
The first is obviously Justin Verlander. Any day, he could throw a no hitter. He might not have the stuff every single time out to the mound, but on most days he's going to be a giant pain in the butt for opposing batters. I told some folks earlier this year I thought Verlander would have a no-hitter before the season ended. He didn't let me down. And, as unlikely as it is, I have to say I would not be surprised if he threw another before the season ended. He may be a tiny step down from the top pitchers in the game -- mainly due to not going deep enough in games on more consistent basis thanks to a soaring pitch count -- but he's definitely in the tier of pitchers who rank between 5 and 15 in my mind. That's a great start for everyone.
The second player is Miguel Cabrera. For all the talk about what the Royals or the Indians or any other number of teams have bubbling up in their minor league systems, the likelihood of having a player of Cabrera's or Verlander's caliber is near nil. Cabrera obviously needs no introduction to opposing managers, as he is already up to 10 intentional walks for the year.
Which brings us to a third reason to feel pretty good about this season: Victor Martinez. Sure, you can try to pitch around Cabrera. But a seemingly now-healthy Martinez can make you pay.Quoting the Detroit News:
Martinez's assault gave him at least three RBIs in three consecutive games, matching a Tigers record first recorded in 1919 and last tied when outfielder Dan Gladden did it during a three-game stretch from Aug. 10-12, 1993.
And I haven't even mentioned the Tigers' starting staff has the second most quality starts in the American League, despite the fact they have already completed the season series agains the Yankees and faced both the Rangers and Blue Jays. Which makes the fact the Tigers have the third-most shutouts in the AL all the more impressive.
By the way, don't look know but the Tigers lead the AL in runs scored. (OK... maybe not RS per game, but still.)
So, the Tigers are 4.5 games out of first place? They still have the best collection of players in the division and plenty of time to track the Indians down. I am feeling as good about the Tigers' chances this season as I have at any point this year.