While we really didn't know what to expect out of the Tigers this season, we have been pleasantly surprised by the position they are in. Worries about our starting pitching staff, and even more worried about the Tigers bullpen and us wondering if the team could even finish above .500 for the year. We all expected the team to hit well, but even that hasn't turned out the way we had imagined it.
So through the first half of the season the Tigers are in first place with a 48-39 record by 3.5 games over the White Sox and 4 games over the Minnesota Twins.
So what has happened that put them in this position. The #1 reason is the trade that brought us Edwin Jackson. In his first year with Detroit he has made it into his first all-star game and has dominated since day 1 leading the team in ERA at 2.52. Justin Verlander has also dominated in stretches this season, and really has been so good in spots that he has been unhittable while striking out 144 batters already at the break.
Then we come to the rookie Rick Porcello who has continued to give solid innings to the Tigers at the ripe old age of 20. He has pitched well enough to win 8 games this season already. Just 1 behind team leader Justin Verlander at 9.
After a very rough start of the season for almost 2 months Armando Galararaga was looking as if he was no longer a pitcher. Even he has turned it around recently and is keeping the Tigers in position to win whenever he steps on the mound.
The bullpen has been quite steady this season as well. A few bumps in the road here and there are expected, but we have gotten some great pitching ourt of the pen all year from closer Fernando Rodney who goes into the break at a perfect 19/19 in save opportunities. After losing the closer's role to Rodney, Brandon "Detroit" Lyon has been very steady the last several weeks. Joel Zumaya is back and has dominated at times, but he still has a few bumps along the way. Bobby Seay has gotten a lot of clutch outs and may be the most consistent of the bunch, while Zach Miner continues to pitch in any way they want as a starter or reliever.
The hitting has been quite weak this season with the loss of Carlos Guillen for most of the first half and the possible swan song of Magglio Ordonez in Detroit. HE is relegated to platoon duty at the moment to see if he can find his bat again or if he will be selling wholesale computers in the near future.
Brandon Inge has been the biggest shock of them all. He will be participating in the HR Derby this week for the first time. Never having even 30 HRs in a season he is at 21 (after 2 today) at the all-star break. He also has a few memorable hits this season that have given the Tigers some wins.
Another big reason is the defense for the Tigers. Although the error count may not show it the Tigers have definitely improved their infield and outfield overall this season. The addition of Adam Everett at SS, and Inge moving back to third has widened the range over there significantly.
The OF has had many faces this season. Playing for Maggs, and for Guillen while he has been on the DL. Clete Thomas, Ryan Raburn, Josh Anderson, and Jeff Larish are a few that have all played quite a few games. They have all had some clutch hits this season and played well enough in the field to save us from some losses.
While the hitting hasn't been spectacular in the first half, Carlos Guillen may be returning soon to help out. There has also been rumblings of a possible trade coming that would get the Tigers another power bat. Adam Dunn and Aubrey Huff have both slipped into rumors as of late so we may see even more improvement int he second half.