As a team the Tigers were average. They had above average hitting (parenthesis are ML ranks):
751 Runs (11th)
.268 Avg (5th)
.335 OBP (8th)
.415 Slg (11th)
Which was balanced out by their below average pitching:
4.30 ERA (25th)
79 QS (23rd)
1.37 WHIP (20th)
.262 BAA (21st)
After starting the season 5-1, the Tigers were .500 for the rest of the month, ending at 14-10.
Top Performers Valverde (7 saves, .75 ERA), Zumaya (1.23 ERA 14.2 in IPs, .81 WHIP), Bonine (1.50 ERA in 12 IPs), Austin Jackson (.364 BA, 149 OPS+)
*Note Cabrera would have fit my proprietary “top performers” criteria for every month but September, when he was still OPS+ 130, so let’s just save everyone the time on him.
May was not a good month, as Dontrelle was sent off to pasture and the boys gave up a few games ending with a 12-14 record for the month (26-24 overall). They swept the Angels April 30 – May 2nd, and were swept by Minnesota there, May 3-5th. They ended the month 4.5 games out of first.
May also saw the passing of one of the all-time Tiger greats, Ernie Harwell. Ernie was our window into a kid’s game, a comforting sound on a summer night, and a master storyteller.
Top performers – Verlander (4 Wins, 2.64 ERA), Valverde (4 saves, 0 ERA in 8.2 IPs), Bonine (1.50 ERA in 12 IPs), Bonderman (1.33 ERA, 26Ks in 27 IPs), Coke (1.93 ERA in 14 IPs), Ni (1.69 ERA in 10.2 IPs), Boesch (3 HRs, .345 BA, .973 OPS)
June was a good month at 15-12, and hosted the game of the year. Galarraga handled the blown call with the class and integrity of a true role model. (Here’s billfer’s final thoughts on the game for good measure.) During June the boys swept Pitt and Arizona on the road as part of a 7 game winning streak June 11-18th, and ended the month at 41-36 overall, 1.5 games behind the Twins.
Unfortunately, the end of June also saw the end of Zoom.
Top performers (watch the relievers begin to disappear…) – Verlander (4 Wins), Valverde (7 saves, .68 ERA), Boesch (8 HR, .337 BA, 1.025 OPS)
Here’s where the lug nuts came loose. The Tigers went 11-15 for the month, and this is after reaching a season high 11 games over after a 5 game home win streak over Baltimore and Minnesota July 5-10th. They came back ice cold after the AS break posting a 4-12 record (including sweeps by Cle and Tampa) and ending July and six games out. The Tampa series featured a no hitter by Matt Garza, and then Joe Maddon intentionally walking Miguel Cabrera in the 7th inning, to load the bases, on three consecutive nights to get to Brennan Boesch. Boesch went K, F7, 3-1. They did manage to Sweep Baltimore in early July.
Maggs went down on July 24th, which is largely when the wheels started to come off. The bullpen also lost its mojo, lowlighted by Valverde’s 8.25 ERA and 2.08 WHIP.
Top performers – Verlander (3 Wins, 2.88 ERA), Scherzer (3 Wins, 2.31 ERA), Coke (2.19 ERA in 12.1 IPs), Inge (.937 OPS through 13 games – till he went on the DL), Damon (.325 BA, .981 OPS)
August saw the loose lug nuts from July fly into a ditch and then the wheels torpedo down the highway in four different directions. The Tigers were 13-16 for the month,but this hides the story a bit. From July 10th through Aug 13 they went 7-23. We saw the last of Guillen this month, and ended August 11 games out (65-67 overall). The boys did sweep Cleveland August 20th – 22nd.
Top performers: Scherzer (3 Wins, 1.29 ERA), Raburn (8 HR, .308 BA, .963 OPS)
16-14, hooray. Swept the White Sox the 7th – 9th, the 17th – 19th, and then Minnesota the 24th – 26th; and then subsequently lost their next 6 before finishing with a W in Baltimore to end the season at 81-81 overall, 13 games back.
Top performers – Verlander (4 Wins, 2.54 ERA), Perry (1.69 ERA in 16 IPs), Thomas (2.13 in 12.2 IPs), Weinhardt (1.54 ERA in 11.2 IPs), Raburn (5 HR, .358 BA, .971 OPS)
The Tigers spent 16 days either tied or in first place outright including off-days (but everyone gets 1 day), and were reasonably in the race through early August. They were never up by more than 1 game, and they were 15.5 games back on September 15th.
Time to dive into off-season moves…we’ll begin with starting pitching next week.