The Detroit Tigers have definitely been one of the surprise teams of the 2021 MLB season.
Unlike the Minnesota Twins, who have been surprisingly bad, the Tigers have been shockingly good, at least according to early-season expectations.
Before Friday’s games, the Tigers are 74-78, 11.5 games behind the American League Central champs, the Chicago White Sox, and only one game behind the second-placed Cleveland Indians.
The Tigers have a great chance of finishing at .500 or even better if they have a good final three series, which is a tangible possibility.
Finishing at .500 would be a resounding moral victory for a franchise that, at long last, is prepared to take the next step and perhaps contend for a playoff spot in 2022.
Detroit will face the Kansas City Royals, the Twins, and the White Sox in the final three series.
They would need to win all three series, or sweep at least one of them, to have a chance at a .500 record.
It will be tough, but it’s doable.
2021 Was A Resounding Success
In any case, Tigers fans can be happy about the team’s 2021 campaign, and eager to see what is next for the franchise.
Mize has posted a solid 3.64 ERA in 143.1 frames.
The fact he has been able to complete 28 starts is amazing because his arm will be more equipped to handle around 170 or 180 innings in 2022.
Skubal has displayed an impressive ability to miss bats (26.8 percent strikeout rate) and while his ERA is not particularly good at 4.25, he has been dominant for stretches.
The Tigers are going to have one of the best young rotations in baseball in 2022 with Mize, Skubal, Manning, this seems like a winter the Tigers may pounce big in free agency for the 1st time in the post Mike Illtch era
— Isaac (@isaacfromFL) July 10, 2021
Manning (5.73 ERA) still has a lot to improve and work on, but remains a valuable piece for the future.
When it comes to hitters, the future looks promising for the Tigers.
They don’t have a particularly imposing offense right now: they are 20th in the majors in runs scored per game with 4.3.
However, they do have some pieces to build around.
The Future Is Bright
Robbie Grossman has displayed a fantastic power-speed combo (23 homers, 18 stolen bases) and is very patient, with a 14.2 walk rate.
The best is yet to come, however.
Riley Greene just misses a home run to the opposite field, but he settles for a game-tying RBI double. pic.twitter.com/10dAc9nQCX
— Tigers Minor League Report (@tigersMLreport) September 24, 2021
Both should be perennial contributors and good offensive pieces to build around.
If everything comes together for the Tigers next year, there is a path toward contention.
For now, they can be happy that their 2021 campaign went way better than expected.
Finishing with a .500 record is still within the realm of possibilities, and that would be fantastic.