Just 24 games into the season, the Detroit Tigers are a disappointing 12-12. The team rebounded nicely from a dismal 3-7 start, but is chasing the surprising 15-8 Cleveland Indians for first place in the AL Central. There are a handful of baseball experts who picked the Tigers to win the AL Central, and there is no doubt the team has a lot of great parts.
What will it take to add cohesion to these parts and turn them into a great baseball team?
There's no easy answer to this million dollar question, but most of the problems can be fixed with pitching and defense. The Tigers have hitting, no doubt. Do they have the right kinds of hitters needed to fill out a balanced lineup, though?
The Tigers may not be completely loaded with prospects at either Triple-A Toledo or Double-A Erie, but they do have some pieces which could solve the pennant puzzle in Detriot.
Coming out of spring training, Jim Leyland had several tough decisions to make. With second baseman Carlos Guillen and relief pitcher Joel Zumaya on the disabled list, the the veteran manager had an opportunity to keep extra eyes on players he otherwise may not have considered bring north.
Although he wasn’t one of the players initially kept on the 25-man opening day roster, Al Albuquerque has done his best Zumaya impersonation. The 24-year-old right-hander has struck out 10 batters in just 5.1 innings out of the bullpen.
Another player performing well so far is outfielder Brennan Boesch. He’s hitting well early on (like last year), batting .342. Leyland committed to giving the left field job to the enigmatic Ryan Rayburn before camp even started, which gave legs to the feeling Boesch may not be a lock to make the team. So much for that. Good thing Rayburn—who’s hitting .247 with a team-leading 31 strikeouts—can play second base too.