Roundtable: Tigers in the Second Half

After a very strong first half, how do you see the Tigers finishing out the year in the division and what's their record?

Paul Wezner, Executive Editor

While the Tigers had an extended and rather poor blip in the first half, they still finished with the third best win percentage in baseball, behind only the Athletics and Angels in the AL West, excelling on the back of an excellent offense (second-best wOBA in MLB, just two points behind the Rockies), and an outstanding rotation, delivering the most wins (9.8 WAR) of any rotation in baseball. The offense may not be able to continue its torrid pace (both Martinez's are in line for a regression to the mean), but should still be very good, while the rotation, as good as it's been, could be even better if Justin Verlander straightens some things out. A couple of additions to the bullpen would likely help solidify that group, which I fully expect the Tigers to make. Given that, I expect the Tigers to finish the season strong, in the neighborhood of 92 wins. The Kansas City Royals appear to have emerged after an extended run of futility, but I don't believe they've evolved enough to break the 90 win barrier, leaving the Tigers comfortably winning the AL Central once again.

Mark Anderson, Director of Scouting

Despite an atrocious stretch of baseball that had fans clammoring to proclaim the demise of this team, the Tigers hold a comfortable 6.5 game lead and they currently own the third best winning percentage in the entire game. That's a helluva first half and one that will likely be duplicated as Miguel Cabrera returns to full health and bashes his way into contention for another MVP award, and the rotation rounds back into form. For all the gnashing of teeth over the quality of the bullpen, they haven't cost the team so many games that they aren't still comfortably ahead of their competition in the Division, and help could be on the way as the trade deadline approaches. The Tigers have some risk heading into the second half though, as J.D. Martinez could still turn into a pumpkin; Austin Jackson's recent resurgence could be a mirage; Eugenio Suarez may not be ready for the extended stretch of MLB play that the Tigers need from him, and Drew Smyly could run out of gas down the stretch. That's a fair amount of risk for a team in such a comfortable position at the All-Star break. That said, I think they have the talent on the roster to mitigate that risk and they have one of the best GMs in the game that will be working to make some changes to the roster down the stretch. Bottom line, this Tigers team is poised to win the Central Division by ten games and will finish with a 96-66 record.

James Chipman, Senior Lakeland Correspondent

Earlier this season in our Roundtable I predicted that the Tigers would finish the season in first with a record of 89-73. For that to hold true, the Tigers would need to finish just a tick above .500 at 36-35 the rest of the way. While that may seem easily achievable, when the All-Star break concludes (thanks largely in part to two doubleheaders) the Tigers begin a brutal stretch of 55 games in 56 days. Furthermore, 41 of the Tigers remaining 71 games are against teams with a .500 record or better and 38 of their remaining games are against division rivals. That being said, baring an injury to a key contributor, the return of Andy Dirks and likely tweak or two to the roster through the trade market should get the Tigers easily above 90 wins. Regardless, I'll remain my stubborn self and stand pat at a first place finish with a 89-73 record in a tight race.

Neil Weinberg, Senior Analyst

After setting a 94-win pace in the first half, I'd set the over/under at 92 wins for the season, comfortably ahead of their nearest competition in the AL Central. The Tigers aren't as good as their two hot streaks or as bad as their dreadful 9-20 run, but the true talent of the team sat somewhere around 90 wins entering the season and they're just slightly exceeding that right now. The team will also play a slightly tougher schedule in the second half and given their position in the division, another end of the season "get swept by the Marlins playing a AAA lineup" is very possible. Barring some sort of significant upgrade, both the Royals and the Indians are a clear step or two down from the Tigers and will struggle to win more than 86 or so games. The Tigers might not be the juggernaut they were a year ago, but they're lined up nicely for the second half.

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