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Justin Verlander and 7 Bright Spots in the Detroit Tigers' Slow Start

Matt SheehanAnalyst IJune 1, 2012

Justin Verlander and 7 Bright Spots in the Detroit Tigers' Slow Start

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    Alright all you Debby Downers, listen up and get ready to be positive because we are going to shine some sunlight on this year's rain cloud of a season.

    Sure, the Detroit Tigers may be five games out of first place and some batting averages are lower than the player's weight, but don't let that get you down.

    The season isn't even a third of the way down yet, so there is time for a surge to capture the second consecutive AL Central title.

    So turn that frown upside down and call me Dr. Positive, because I am here to turn your half-empty $9 cup of beer into a half-full glass of champagne.

1. Quintin Berry Is a Daiper Dandy

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    That's right, I pulled that one straight out of Dick Vitale's quote book, do you know why?

    Because Quintin Berry is a true "Diaper Dandy."

    In his first nine major league games, the kid has 13 hits and sports a .333 batting average.

    Some may say it's too early to tell what he will really bring to the table, but I personally see a lot of promise in him.

    He can hit, cover his position in the outfield and brings speed to a team that is slower than a Nick Fairley police chase (too soon?).

    If he can tone down the strikeouts it would be fantastic, but what else could you expect from a kid who just made it to the majors?

2. Austin Jackson Is Simply Proving the Haters Wrong

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    Austin Jackson has received a lot of flack the last couple seasons for striking out too much, but who can blame the skeptics? He swung and missed so much it was nearly considered a hobby of his.

    But now, after a solid offseason, Austin Jackson has a shorter swing that is smoother than a frat guy's pickup lines. The toned-down leg kick has earned Austin Jackson a team-high .331 batting average to go along with his 29 runs.

    Not only has the hitting improved, but it doesn't look like Jackson lost any strides in his fielding ability either.

    The thought of having Jackson and Berry in the same outfield just tickles me, but we'll see how Jimmy Leyland feels about benching Boesch, Young or Dirks.

3. Hey, speaking of Andy Dirks...

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    Andy Dirks is a bad man, just ask any baseball.

    In 37 games, he has a .321 batting average with 24 runs, making him this year's biggest surprise in the lineup.

    He is a solid, left-handed batter that the Tigers are finding useful, and he is a great outfield option that Leyland can take advantage of.

    If only you could have four outfielders, life would be good for the Tigers, but unfortunately they have to stick with three and bench Dirks every third or fourth game.

4. The Big Boys Are Playing Like Big Boys

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    "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade," once said a wise person.

    "When life gives you two huge men, play them at the corners and bat them at the top of your lineup," I'm sure another wise person once said.

    During the offseason, Tigers fans were licking their chops and Jim Leyland slept a little more peacefully knowing that he would have Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder in the same lineup.

    The expectations were high for the two big men, and so far, they are coming through in doing their part.

    Prince is batting .321, while Cabby is batting .317 and the two combine to have 17 home runs and 85 RBI.

    It is without a doubt that these two men batting next to each other are possibly the most dangerous duo in baseball, and they could very well bring the Tigers to glory later on in the year.

5. Verlander Being Verlander

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    Justin Verlander has continued to prove why he is one of the top-20 pitchers of all time with the way he is throwing this year.

    His fastball is electric, his curveball seems to drop at an 89-degree angle and he makes batters look sillier than a squirrel in roller blades.

    Coming off of an MVP and Cy Young year led to big expectations and an even bigger weight to carry on this team. So far, he has done nothing but deliver.

    He leads the majors in strikeouts with 82, has a 2.55 ERA and nearly threw his third no-hitter so far this year.

    If his performance this season doesn't at least bring half a smile to a Tiger fan's face, then consider them the hardest person in the world to please.

6. Fister Just Teaching the Tigers How to Dougie

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    Once you get past that corny headline, take a look at these numbers. In 34.1 innings pitched, Doug Fister has:

    -Thrown 24 strikeouts

    -Thrown 8 walks

    -Has a 3.15 ERA. And remember when Leyland got thrown out in Boston? If the umpire opened his eyes and made the correct call, Fister's ERA would be even lower.

    -Pitched his way to a 0-3 record.

    Now, this is a classic example of the game "which one is not like the other," because Fister clearly doesn't deserve to be 0-3.

    If only he could keep his 100-foot tall body injury free, then life would be even better.

7. I-N-G-E Is O-U-T

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    Half of you reading this are smiling, the other half of you just teared up. I guarantee it.

    Brandon Inge was either loved or loathed by his own fans, but even his fans couldn't deny that he was a below-average (and I'm being nice on that word choice) player.

    Brandon Inge's batting average was rarely seen around the .200 mark and his bat only produced nine homers in the last three years.

    Look, I love Brandon Inge as much as the next guy, but his release needed to happen.

    So was it a little sad to see him leave? For some, yes, but it was a move that simply needed to be made to make this team better.

8. The Fans Remain the Best in the AL Central

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    As far as passion goes, Tiger fans are top notch at being behind their team.

    As far as numbers go, that is where we see proof that Detroit loves their team more than any other city in the AL Central.

    Detroit has the tenth-highest attendance in the MLB by filling over 35,000 seats per game, and that number is also good enough to have them on top of the AL Central.

    Remember kids, the numbers don't lie.

    So see fans, it isn't all that bad.

    The Tigers still have over 100 games to play and they have the talent to head into the postseason for a second straight year.

    So next time you call into a radio station or chat it up with your friends, just remember, it could be worst.

    We could be the Padres.

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