1984 Redux? The Tigers are off to an epic start…but there’s a catch

You can play this game in several ways.

I started by noting that the Detroit Tigers, who are 13-17 overall, actually have a better-than-.500 record (12-11) against everyone but the Baltimore Orioles, against whom they are 1-6.

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But the fun was just starting. Throw out the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox, who swept the Tigers in the early series, and the “except-for” record improves to 12-5. At this point, you've got almost the entire American League East in there, so why not remove the series against the Toronto Blue Jays as well? Suddenly the remaining Tiger record is a cool 11-3.

Not bad.

Except, of course, the five series against the four teams mentioned above are part of the schedule just as much as any other. When you're a Major League team, you have to play the good teams as well as the bad, and that's how you end up with your overall record.

If you're only good enough to do well against bad teams, you're not good enough.

Detroit Tigers schedule and results

Plenty Good Against Most of the Good

And yet, that's really not the case with the Tigers. They've already won series this year against the Houston Astros, Cleveland Guardians, and Milwaukee Brewers, who are good, and against the New York Mets (who may or may not be good but are certainly expensive) and against the San Francisco Giants, who have the exact same record as the Tigers and also have to overcome the fact that they are managed by Gabe Kapler, which can't be easy.

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The Tigers have shown the ability to play winning baseball against quality teams, even on the road. They just haven't done it when the opponents are in the American League East.

How Do We Understand These Detroit Tigers?

What can we conclude from that? The thought here is that the Tigers are much better than the 2-9 record they stumbled to in their first 11 games (they're 11-6 since), and are starting to show some signs that they understand how to hang in and win difficult games against decent teams.

Sweeping the Mets certainly showed that, especially considering the way they beat up on Max Scherzer on Wednesday night, and the way Eduardo Rodriguez outdueled Justin Verlander on Thursday.

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For what it's worth, the Tigers have five series left this season against American League East teams – one each against the Red Sox (away); Blue Jays and Rays (both home); and two against the Yankees (one home, one road).

If the pattern we've seen so far holds, don't be so quick to give up on this season.

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