There’s nothing quite like using early season stats and numbers to make full-season predictions off of. The Tigers have had some unfortunate luck in April with actually getting to play games, so our sample size for statistics remains skewed.
That won’t stop our intrepid writing staff from getting excited about what we’ve seen so far, though.
This weeks question: What stat or trend are you most excited about after only 13 games?
Ron: The stat that has surprised me the most coming into the season, has obviously made me the most excited and that would be the pitching and their lack of runs allowed. At this point, I’m not sure what’s more shocking the back-end of the bullpen pitching stellar or how dominant most of the starters have been.
Between Greene, Jimenez, VerHagen and Stumpf the Tigers back-end have a 2.78 ERA in 16 and 2/3rd’s innings of work, with 17 strikeouts. The starters have been just as good if not better. Even with Zimmermann’s 10 earned runs in a little over 10 innings of work, the Tigers five-man rotation still has an ERA of 2.61.
Chris: I’m liking that the Tigers actually seem to be taking steps to be more aggressive on the base paths this year. The display they put on in Chicago was unlike anything that was seen from this team under previous management. Guys like Leonys Martin, Niko Goodrum, JaCoby Jones, and Mikie Mahtook have the speed and ability to steal bases. Even a guy like Victor Reyes has potential there, if only he can get his bat going or find ways to get on base. Unless it’s my imagination, they already seem to be trying to stretch more singles into doubles and take the unexpected extra base fly balls to the outfield. Whether this is just a blip on the radar or a here-to-stay development, I couldn’t tell you. But it’s nice to see they’re at least trying to improve there after what seems like years of saying they would do so.
Brandon: I’m definitely most excited about the impact Chris Bosio is having on the pitching staff. They aren’t this good, and it’s very early, but we’ve seen a marked improvement in stuff, sequencing and command from many of the Tigers’ arms. That’s the trend I’ll be watching with the most interest. Hopefully the Tigers are smart enough to parlay some of these performances into good prospects if they hold up during the first half. And we might find ourselves with several pieces who will be here for years to come when their impact on our win/loss totals are more relevant.
Kyle: It is really encouraging to see Miguel Cabrera absolutely smashing the ball to start the season. His 96.3 mph average exit velocity is currently second in all of baseball, and he is reaching at least 100 mph on 40 percent of his batted balls. The results have yet to catch up -- he is hitting just .243 with only one homer -- but the fact that he is making such strong contact gives plenty of hope for the future. In 2015 and 2016 Cabrera sat around 93.7 mph, but that number dropped to just 91.3 mph last season. Even with some regression back toward his average exit velocity a few seasons ago, Cabrera is on track to bounce back in a big way, as long as he can stay healthy.
Patrick: I am looking strictly for signs of hope from players who could be part of the next Tigers’ contender, and I am not finding much to cheer about. It really doesn’t matter to me what players like Iglesias, Martin, or even Zimmerman do. They will be long gone before the Tigers see a .500 season. On the offensive side, Cabrera has not shown that he’s back, nor that he’s finished. Machado is showing that he could be an adequate replacement for Iglesias, but certainly not for Kinsler. The brightest rays of sunshine are coming from the pitching staff, where Matt Boyd and his 1.38 ERA is showing that he can take a rotation spot every fifth day and keep the team in the game. Joe Jimenez is doing the same in the bullpen- no runs in seven appearances so far. Several others in the bullpen could play various roles, and there is reason to be optimistic, but it’s way too soon to tell.
Jeff: Nick Castellanos continuing where he left off last year. He’s one of the few Tigers hitting consistently so far this year, .286/.352/.408. His line drive rate (28.9 percent) and hard hit percentage (55.3 percent) continue to be impressive. Only J.D. Martinez and Jorge Soler have had a better hard hit rate than Castellanos so far this year. Just keep doing what you are doing, Nick.
Ashley: I think, so far, I’m most intrigued by Francisco Liriano. I don’t think he’ll be vying for a Cy Young vote or anything, but he hasn’t been an utter disaster, and I didn’t have particularly high hopes for either he or Fiers. I think Liriano, of the two, is the more interesting to watch, and I hope he continues to be a pleasant surprise. The Tigers needed guys in the rotation to eat starts every five days, and Liriano is doing that job with a lot more skill than I’d accounted for.