Going into the 2015 season we expected a Detroit Tigers team with superior offense, improved defense, a rotation that lacked depth, and a suspect bullpen. What we experienced in the first week was an offense that was so superior, the pitching was irrelevant. Usually, there is little value in examining the numbers so early the season, what with the small sample sizes. But, after all, baseball is entertainment, so let's dive into the numbers to celebrate the past week.
First let's calibrate our expectations. The American League is hitting .244/.314/.391 as a whole this season. The average OPS is .705. Good hitters continue to grow more rare by the year.
As a group, the Tigers lead the league in almost every offensive category. The team is hitting .355/.433/.550, which is like saying the entire roster is performing like a healthy Miguel Cabrera. They are walking nearly as often as striking out, with 31 walks to 38 strikeouts. They lead the league in slugging percentage and in stolen bases. All of this contributes to 7.8 runs per game. This is fun.
Ed.: And it's not going to last, so please just enjoy these numbers for what they are.
The Tigers make contact, with three players among the top six in the American League for hits.
The Tigers own the top four spots in the AL rankings for batting average.
They also have four players among the top 10 in the league for on-base percentage.
Getting on base leads to runs scored, where the Tigers have three players in the top 10.
And they have three players in the top 10 for stolen bases, without Anthony Gose on the list yet:
In addition to adding balance, this team is designed to platoon at catcher and center field. So let's compare output by position (using fWAR):
When the weak links in the lineup are Yoenis Cespedes and Victor Martinez, all is well. Perhaps most encouraging is the catcher position, with a combined .286 / .444 / .429 line.
The hit parade must slow down, and there will be weeks where it seems everyone turns cold at once. Some weeks the offense will be good, and still not be able to bail out the pitching. But the early indications are that the Tigers have so many weapons, and are so balanced, that they will provide an entertaining style of baseball throughout the season.