Former Detroit Tigers manager Sparky Anderson was famous for a lot of things — here’s the video, since you’re going to search for it now — but one of his more popular tenets was that it takes at least 40 games to judge a baseball team. That was pretty easy for his 1984 squad, but a little more difficult for some others.
Today, we’re asking you to evaluate the 2019 Tigers. They managed a respectable 18-22 record through their first 40 games, but had one of the worst run differentials in baseball, at -63. Remember, this does not include their past two games; after Wednesday’s 17-3 drubbing, the Tigers are now 18-24 with a -81 run differential, in lockstep with the Baltimore Orioles for worst in the American League.
There’s more to judging a team than just these numbers, though. We have 42 games’ worth of individual performances to assess, and, as our Question of the Day notes, some other teams to consider as well.
Where will the Tigers finish in the AL Central standings this year?
My answer: I don’t know that the Tigers are as bad as their run differential suggests. Bad performances will carry larger weight at this point in the season, and the Tigers’ two worst losses represent one-third of that awful run differential through the first quarter of the season. They have also been ravaged by injuries, dipping as low as 11th on the hypothetical starting pitching depth chart that I’m sure hangs in Ron Gardenhire’s office.
Between call-ups, breakouts — Nicholas Castellanos will find his level at some point — and players coming back healthy, I think the Tigers will finish in third place in the division. It feels like there will be a fierce(ish) battle between them and the Chicago White Sox for that spot, with the Kansas City Royals bringing up the rear. Their final record? A not-so-nice 69-93.
What do you think?
Note: We’re stealing an idea from our friends at Pride of Detroit. Every day, we will post an open-ended question, along with a quick answer, to spark discussion about the Tigers (or other stuff, who knows where this goes?). Use this thread to answer that question, or talk about other stuff — the Tigers, baseball in general, or anything else on your mind.