18-8 (61-45 overall)
It was during July that the Detroit Tigers became the DETROIT TIGERS, AL POWERHOUSE. After playing well, but not having a record that matched the performance perfectly, the Tigers unloaded in the month of July. They won 9 of their final 10 and put themselves back on a 93 win pace thanks to outscoring their opponents by 61 runs.
The Tigers led the AL in offense with a 122 wRC+ (what’s wRC+?) in July and were second in the AL in position player wins above replacement (what’s WAR?) The story of the month offensively was Victor Martinez’s resurgence as he posted a 180 wRC+ after a very slow start, but among Tigers who came to the plate a significant number of times quite a fewer put up above average numbers. Hunter (187 wRC+), Miguel Cabrera (173 wRC+), Don Kelly (138 wRC+), Matt Tuiasosopo (137 wRC+), Alex Avila (126 wRC+), and Jhonny Peralta (115 wRC+) all put up great numbers during the month. Avila’s numbers really jump off the page.
In 77 PA in July, Avila hit .269/.355/.463 and was worth 0.5 WAR. Those numbers look very reasonable for what he could do going forward. Avila might hit for a bit less average, but the walks are always there and he can hit for some decent power. If you guide it out, Avila is a 2.5 to 3.0 WAR player in my mind going forward because he’s going to have to spend some time on the DL each year. The numbers are in a small sample, but the process looks much better too.
Overall, the pitching staff was around average in July, offering a 3.0 WAR in the month and a 3.44 ERA and 3.91 FIP (what’s FIP?) after an historic start to the year. They are still within 1% of having baseball’s best rotation in history, but after July it’s going to be a bit harder to achieve that goal as the starters only posted the 8th best numbers in MLB over the last 31 days.
Scherzer and Porcello were both brilliant in July, and while Anibal Sanchez didn’t pitch great, he did manage to limit the runs he allowed with some timely outs. Verlander struggled in the month across the board and Fister was certainly below where you’d expect to see him, but Fister has figured it out since the break after struggling before it and Verlander has shown signs of promise.
Smyly and Benoit remain one of baseball’s best two headed monsters out in the pen, and with reinforcements coming, things look pretty good there too.
All in all, it was a great month for the team and it was fun to watch. The bats carried the pitching staff, but the pitching staff was still pretty good – they just weren’t as good as the pace they set in the first half. The Tigers have 56 games left in 2013 and will likely play most of them without Jhonny Peralta, but as long as Cabrera’s injury doesn’t prove to be too serious, it doesn’t look like much can stop them. The Tigers look like they’ll ride to the postseason and are ready to make another deep run. They only need to play at an 83 win pace the rest of the way in order to reach 90 wins, which should be more than enough to outlast the Indians and Royals.
The Moment: Brayan Pena tags out Nick Swisher on a ball Swisher expected to go foul. Pena chuckles with delight.