The Tigers might have four legitimate MVP candidates â€“ Miggy, Verlander, Prince, and Jackson â€“ which probably means none of them will win because either a) each player will cut into the othersâ€™ vote totals, or b) they simply wonâ€™t play up to the standards theyâ€™ve set already, since high expectations/strong early season results often deaden over the course of the baseball season.
Whatever happens, having four guys who are likely to have legitimate cases to be the best player in their league, along with a couple of secondary players (Scherzer, Hunter, V-Mart) who are All-Star caliber, is a really good recipe to be one of the best teams in baseball.
The other reason to feel good about this team so far is the defense. Last year, the Tigers were one of the worst defensive teams in baseball. This year, after replacing their starting corner outfielders from 2012, and having Infante at second full-time, they are in the upper third in baseball defensively. Not stellar, mind you. But good enough when you have a rotation and offense like they do.
This was the one question mark coming into the season, and that question has been answered. It sucks. And itâ€™s time to start cycling through the options. I suspect Villareal, who was excellent last year but has an ERA in the infinite range so far in 2013, is on his way out, which will open the way for either Rondon or one of the recyclable veteran relievers (read: Jose Valverde) Dombrowski has stashed away in Toledo. Phil Coke might not be far back in the line to the trash bin.
In the meantime, Benoit is the primary ninth inning guy according to Leyland. Iâ€™m not opposed to this, but Iâ€™d still like to let Al Al get a shot. Benoit has expressed reservations about closing in the past, and Al Al seems to have the attitude/stuff to be strong in that role. Weâ€™ll see how Benoit shakes out first, I guess.
Well, I have to admit that I was taken in by the Rick Porcello is a dominant spring training pitcher act, thinking it would translate into the regular season, based on his eschewing of the slider in favor of what seemed like a knee-buckling curveball. Apparently, that was premature on my part. So here we are, once again trying to figure out what to do with the 25-year-old. Itâ€™s worth giving him a few more chances, but with Smyly pitching solidly out of the bullpen the leash canâ€™t be too long. Once again, itâ€™s time to ask; will Porcello be the trade chip the Tigers need/use to fix their bullpen issues?
The great prankster
Hey, did you guys know that the prankster behind the Manti Tâ€™eo hoax is platooning in left field for the Tigers? And in his continuing effort to pull the wool over Americaâ€™s eyes, heâ€™s now pretending to be a competent major league baseball player (he’s hitting .400 so far, granted that’s in only 10 at-bats). I gotta admit, this guy is good. First, he convinces the country heâ€™s a hot Hawaiian chick, and now heâ€™s got us believing heâ€™s worthy of a roster spot on a World Series contender.
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