As 2015 draws to a close and the holiday season is upon us, starting with the great American holiday of Thanksgiving, this seems like an appropriate time for Detroit Tigers fans to count our blessings and consider all the things we can be thankful for. Coming off a season where our beloved Bengals went from first to worst, we may have to dig a little deeper to find the good things about our team. But really, it's not so hard to find them.
1. Owner Mike Ilitch continues to provide Detroit Tigers fans with one of the largest payrolls in the game. Maybe some would have preferred to not trade our draft picks for expensive players, or not to extend star players with contracts that run into the hundreds of millions of dollars. But frankly, we've hung out in the basement long enough, waiting for those picks to turn into gold, and it didn't work. In fact, it sucked! So, thank you Mr I, and just a friendly reminder that Black Friday is upon us, so keep spending!
2. Miguel Cabrera, the best hitter on the planet, has won his fourth batting title as a Detroit Tiger, and this one was in an "off year". He's just that good. Having this kind of a hitter in the middle of your batting order gives fans something to build around every season. We are witnessing one of the all time greats.
3. Justin Verlander is back! Good health is always near the top of anyone's list when it comes to being thankful, and it looks like, finally, after two years of struggling through surgery and injuries, the ace of the Tigers' pitching staff is returning to form. After missing another two months of the season, Verlander returned and posted a stellar 2.80 ERA with a 1.00 WHIP, 8.30 K/9 and a generally dominating performance after the all star break. Welcome back, JV!
4.JD Martinez. Just as one Martinez went in the tank, another one rose to even higher heights and was awarded Tiger of the year honors for the season. He led the team in home runs, RBI, slugging percentage, and fWAR. He also ranked among the top eight players in the league in each of those categories. He is one of the few cost controlled players on the team, and he should be thanked with a nice contract extension soon.
5. Tigers' defense. If there was a bright spot in the Tigers' performance on the field in 2015, it had to be the improvement in their team defense. The Tigers' defense went from - 65 defensive runs saved (DRS), ranking 12th of 15 AL teams, all the way up to plus 18 runs, ranking fourth. Having Jose Iglesias back (until he was gone again), Ian Kinsler, James McCann, and Anthony Gose up the middle is as solid as the defense has been in a long time. And how about JD Martinez's gold glove nomination?
6. Daniel Norris, the van man, made a nice impression after being acquired in the trade for David Price. But his 3.68 ERA in 36 innings is not what we are most thankful for in this case. Norris, Matt Boyd, and Michael Fulmer will give the Tigers some depth and a future in the pitching department, but Daniel underwent successful surgery for thyroid cancer after the season, and is expected to drive his van into Tigertown at Lakeland next spring healthy and ready to go.
7. Finally, I am thankful for the staff here at BYB for another season covering the Detroit Tigers through all the slings and arrows of another outrageous baseball season.This staff is a whole lot more fun to work with than the suited up folks I deal with in court every day. Most of all, BYB readers, fans, and commenters- you guys are like the folks down at the corner pub where we can all meet and talk about Tigers baseball. I can't do that anywhere else like here.
Happy Thanksgiving, Tigers fans, and may next year not be such a turkey!