Excellent, until the very end.
14-14 (29-24 overall)
The Tigers entered May on a hot streak and ended it on a cold streak losing four in a row, even if most of the month was very strong.
They end May fourth in MLB offensively with a 108 wRC+ after hitting 110 wRC+ during the month of May. On the bump, the Tigers are far and away the best staff in baseball with a 13.4 WAR overall thanks to a 6.5 WAR month of May in which they struck out 9.9 batters per 9 and walked just 2.44 per 9, good for a 2.92 FIP and 2.99 xFIP.
To no one’s surprise, Miguel Cabrera led the way during May with 2.1 WAR thanks to an otherworldly 224 wRC+ and .379/.455/.767 line during the month to go with his 12 HR, but Jhonny Peralta stood out as well. Peralta put up 1.3 WAR in the month and hit .362/.413/.543 good for 160 wRC+. The Tigers also had decent months from Dirks (0.7 WAR in May), Infante (0.5), Pena (0.4), and Kelly (0.4). Hunter, Avila, Fielder, and Martinez combined to cost the Tigers -1.0 WAR in May.
The pitching ERAs belie how good the staff was during the month thanks to about one poor start each, but the other numbers are great. Sanchez (1.4 WAR, 2.26 FIP), Fister (1.3 WAR, 2.08 FIP), Scherzer (1.2 WAR, 2.95 FIP), Verlander (0.9 WAR, 2.42 FIP), and Porcello (0.7 WAR, 3.25 FIP) all had strong months thanks to big strikeout totals, low walk rates, and a limitation of the longball. Three of the seven best pitchers in baseball during May and four of the top ten overall this season play for the Tigers.
Of MLB pitchers with 50 or more innings so far this year, the Tigers 5 starters rank 2, 5, 6, 12, and 13 in xFIP, which is FIP adjusted for park, league average, and HR/FB%.
It’s hard not to like what the Tigers are doing, as they lead MLB in WAR at the end of May and are in first place despite finishing the month with four straight losses. Fans sometimes have a tendency to focus on your team’s struggles without realizing that your team is one of the best teams in the league because you don’t watch every other team day in and day, thus failing to notice their flaws. The Tigers are very, very good. Their starters are on another level and their offense is also deadly. Teams will go through poor stretches throughout a 162 games schedule and will not play at the exact same pace for an entire year. There will be variation, and you have to be able to see the forest rather than the trees.
The Moment: Sanchez nearly no-hits the Twins, coming within two outs, on May 24th.