For the first time since 2006, I anticipate the end of this year’s professional baseball season. Why? Because the Detroit Tigers have severely underperformed based on expectations and payroll. There were great expectations for the Tigers’ 2012 season and nobody expected the season to come down to this.
A close divisional race is normally a good thing. Close seasons can be exciting and entertaining, but that is only the case when both teams involved are either at the top of their game or are in a generally tough division. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
This year the Tigers are ranked 8th in the American League, and they are in what is arguably the worst division in the American League. The Central Division is the worst in the AL because it has three of the league’s six sub-.500 teams and is the only AL division with a team above third place that has a record as low as the Tigers.
Detroit rarely loses when both the pitching and the offense show up on game day, but those days don’t seem to come when they are needed. As of Sept. 22, the Tigers have only won nine of their last 16 against Cleveland, Kansas City and Minnesota, who all have winning percentage of less than .500.
Nine of 16 isn’t a bad record, but when those 16 games are against horrible teams like those, a team as good as the Tigers should have a better record than that.
On top of that, the Tigers are only four for 15, since Aug. 1, when they play the same day as the White Sox lose, which is a problem when Chicago is the team you need to get ahead of. Detroit just cannot win when they need to.
The lack of success is a result of their lack of consistency and defense. It seems like Detroit is rarely able to hit and pitch at the same time. There are just too many games where one of these aspects doesn’t show up. If the Tigers’ bats are hot then their pitchers just don’t show up, and if the bull pen is working well the bats aren’t. And even if the bats show up, most of the team cannot hit very well anyways.
Also, the Tigers do not have a playoff-caliber defense, because the Tigers have traded off their defense for slightly above-average hitting. None of the players have any range on defense, and Omar Infante was never able to fill that hole at second base. One really symbolic event was when they released Brandon Inge, who was a great defensive player but a horrible batter.
Basically, the Tigers add up to a slightly above average baseball team, well below their potential. Even their huge payroll could not make them perform any better on the field.
From what I’ve seen of them in the last couple of months, neither the Tigers nor the White Sox deserve to make the postseason, and no matter who makes it, the Central Division Champion will have a pitiful postseason run.