Paul Wezner, Senior Editor
There are a number of factors that have helped this team have the best start in baseball, but when it comes down to it, the leadership at the top has to earn a good portion of the credit; and that means Jim Leyland gets the ultimate pat on the back. Sure, Magglio Ordonez being at full strength helps, as does the addition of Kenny Rogers, and the influx of young talent like Justin Verlander. But Jim Leyland from the outset made it clear that this wasn't going to be like other teams, and he wasn't going to allow the team to mail in games like previous teams. But even before that, he displayed to the team that he was a man of his word; vowing to keep the 25 best players and then following through on that (something the previous manager failed to do). Health and more talent certainly helps, but Leyland has set the tone for the season that made winning the priority.
Mark Anderson, Associate Editor, Minor Leagues
I think the Tigers fortunes in the early going can be directly attributed to the wonderful powers of confidence. When the Tigers brought Jim Leyland and Kenny Rogers on board this offseason, people always talked about their veteran presence and mature approach to the game. Well, if by veteran presence, people actually meant confidence bordering on arrogance, they were absolutely right. The attitude that Jim Leyland has forced, and I mean forced upon this Tigers team is an enormous reason for their success. Unlike past years, this year's squad rebounds from devestating losses, and buries teams when they have the chance. That type of mentality, combined with a generally hot start on the field can make any team successful. The Tigers have the talent to win baseball games; now they have the requisite arrogance to go along with it.
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
I don't think you can attribute one factor for the Tigers success. Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez are healthy this year, and that has done wonders for the offense, and Fernando Rodney is at full strength from Tommy John surgery, which gives the bullpen a big boost. Overall, the talent is certainly better and some players have come into their own. At this time last year, Chris Shelton and Curtis Granderson were at Toledo and Placido Polanco was still a Phillie, so you add those three players with the health of Ordonez and Guillen, and you have over half of the lineup. The same thing can be said with the pitching staff. Justin Verlander and Joel Zumaya have stepped up and performed well, and the signing of Kenny Rogers has given the Tigers not only a veteran pitcher with a good track record, but he has been a tutor for the younger guys to watch and learn from. The last factor is Jim Leyland. When he had his tirade earlier in the season, it sent a clear message that mediocrity wasn't going to be accepted any longer, and the players have stayed focused and responded to his no-nonsense approach.
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