Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
At the beginning of the season, I followed my gut, and my gut didn't lead me astray. While many projected another disappointing season in 2009, I felt this team had enough to compete, and predicted an 86-win season. After passing the halfway mark, I still feel this team is in position to contend, but I'm not yet sold they have what it takes to hold this lead for the next 70-plus games and claim the AL Central division crown. The Tigers found first half success with outstanding starting pitching, strong defense, just enough run support most of the time, and a bullpen that was able to hold its own. While the defense should remain strong, and the starting pitching good, the offense is still has question marks (can we really get another .268/.360/.515 out of Brandon Inge?) and the bullpen is still shaky (Joel Zumaya's never-ending control problems, and it's hard to see Fernando Rodney remaining perfect in save opportunities). I'm going to revise my prediction, but not too much - I see the Tigers with 88 wins, still finishing 2nd in the AL Central.
Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
I think it is safe to say I slightly underestimated the ability of our Motor City Kitties. While it was reasonable to expect Verlander to be a dominating force, it was hard to expect such a promising first half from Rick Porcello, and such a completely dominant turnaround from Edwin Jackson. That three-headed monster at the top of the rotation, along with Fernando Rodney's relative excellence at the back end of games, has left this squad in a prime position to make a run in 2009. I'd be foolish not to revise my pre-season prediction of 79 wins for this club, and I now think 90-92 wins may be more appropriate given the way they have been getting the job done in spite of an offense that hasn't really gotten rolling yet. If Carlos Guillen provides some punch to the lineup later this month, or they acquire a bat for the stretch run, this team could even exceed this new expectation. In the spirit of revising predictions, I now believe the Tigers are capable of finishing the 2009 regular season with a 91-71 record, and winning the AL Central in the process.
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
Back in April, I said the Tigers would go 79-83, but the Tigers would have to bottom out at 31-44 the rest of the way to match that, and while it's still very possible for the season to go south, I think the Tigers will surpass the win total I had projected for them back in April. I said back in April that the Tigers' top five hitters had to produce and the bottom of the order had to deliver whenever possible to be successful, but that really hasn't happened. Miguel Cabrera has hit well, and Curtis Granderson has 18 homers out of the leadoff spot, but the Tigers have gotten only 90 at-bats from Carlos Guillen, who has been injured, and Placido Polanco is hitting .256, not to mention the well-documented struggles of Magglio Ordonez. However, Brandon Inge has been superb, and the Tigers have gotten lifts from Ryan Raburn and Clete Thomas to keep the offense somewhat afloat. The pitching staff has gotten outstanding seasons from All-Stars Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson, and up until his last two starts, rookie Rick Porcello owned a solid 3.55 ERA. Armando Galarraga has been more down than up since a terrific April, and the fifth spot has been a black hole thus far. The bullpen has also done a good job to date. One thing the Tigers do have in their favor in the second half are the 41 home dates they have (against 34 road games), where they sport baseball's third best record at 27-13. I don't know if they can keep up that pace, but if they go 39-36 in the second half, that puts them at 88 wins, which may be good enough to win the Central.
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