There are some things that are a given. The sun rises. The tides ebb and flow. And for the past three seasons, the Detroit Tigers win the American League Central. It appeared that could be the case again this season. Vegas had them as a sure-fire favorite to win it for a fourth consecutive season.
Started off that way, too. But then a dose of reality hit Detroit in mid-June.
Remember when the Tigers slumped and fell a game and a half behind the Kansas City Royals? That was on June 18th. The Tigers were hosting the Royals and KC has taken three of the first four games in the series.
Detroit righted the ship and were six and a half games ahead when the All-Star break hit. They made up eight full games within the standings is a little less than a month.
As Yogi Berra would say, “It’s like déjà vu all over again.”
With last night’s loss in Pittsburgh (and maybe and extended period without Justin Verlander), coupled with a Royals victory over the Oakland A’s, the Tigers once again are in second place in the AL Central. Much is being made about the Tigers falling, flailing, struggling, etc.
— MLB Network Radio (@MLBNetworkRadio) August 12, 2014
That’s far from the only mention of this “slippage” the Tigers are currently experiencing.
I ask: Why is no one giving credit where it’s due? What about the play from those Royals? Why is no one (except Royals fans) trumpeting their play since the All-Star break?
Maybe that’s a rhetorical question, I don’t know. As of late, I do know that the Royals have outperformed the Tigers. It might not be where you think either. Look for yourselves…
Not a lot of clarity here other than the Royals are scoring ever so slightly more runs per game. For the most part, the Royals offensive numbers from the first half of the season are better. You know where that leads…
Did you ever think you’d see the day where the Royals pitchers would clearly perform better than the Tigers? I get that the Tigers bullpen has been a big issue, and that Kansas City’s bullpen is among the best in baseball, but c’mon, not to this extent.
Dig a little more here. For the month of August, Royals pitchers have an ERA of 2.12, WHIP of 0.966, and a BAA of.207. Kansas City has won nine of ten games they have played this month. Thus, we have the principal reason why the Royals once again sit atop the division.
We talked about the Royals ‘pen, but there have a couple of starters that have flexed their muscles in August: James Shields and Jeremy Guthrie. In the duo’s four August starts, they own a combined record of 4-0 with a 1.13 ERA and 0.656 WHIP. Shields has been the more dominant of the two – as we would all figure – but Guthrie has been no slouch either.
Going forward, here’s a few items that could keep the Royals atop the division….
We cannot logically expect them to maintain this pace. Who’s going to say they will win every nine of ten games from now until the season ends? Maybe a few fool hearty folk, but the pitching must continue to perform. Again, no one should expect those post All-Star Game numbers to hold up until the end of the 2014 season.
As previously noted, the offense has sagged a bit since the All-Star Game. If you look at the numbers for the season-to-date, they don’t have many “regulars” that sport a OPS+ at 100 or higher. It would be nice if the bats could break out a little more or, in the case of a couple, wake up. Yesterday’s acquisition of Josh Willingham could help, but one guy isn’t going to suddenly change the Royals offensive “profile”.
Kansas City needs to start playing better within their division. A snapshot…
v DET: 4-9
v CLE: 7-6
v MIN: 6-6
v CWS: 8-4
That’s .500 ball (25-25). They’re beating up on the White Sox, as they should, but they have struggled to some extent against the Twins. And aside from taking three of four during the aforementioned series in Detroit, the Royals have clearly been dominated by the Tigers.
Want to stake your claim to the ALC title? Beat Detroit and Minnesota. The Twins at the bottom of the division. No reason, except for maybe team matchups, that the Royals should only be .500 against them.
This could get lost in the shuffle, but have you looked at the DRS (defensive runs saved) for the Royals? It 3rd best in the American League at 24. Mention three names and see why: Alex Gordon (20, leads the AL), Lorenzo Cain (19), Jarrod Dyson (16).
For the record, Detroit’s DRS is -44. That’s 13th in the AL. Think defense isn’t that important? Guess again.
I understand the Tigers have faltered only to regain their game as pass the Royals once. It could happen again, but the Royals have the pieces to prevent that from happening again.
So instead of blabbering about the recent poor play of the Tigers, how about tipping your cap and recognizing the recent outstanding play of your current AL Central leaders?