Um…the Detroit Tigers are in second place? How and why that happened!

Feel DSN contributor, W.G. Brady, had a bold prediction this morning about the Detroit Tigers being in first place by Memorial Day.

It could happen.

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But in this piece, let's deal with where they are in the here and now, because that alone is pretty extraordinary.

Take a deep breath and take these words in: The Tigers are in second place. Right now.

And they're only four games out of first.

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How can this be?

After the 5-4 win over the St. Louis Cardinals last night, the Tigers are 14-17. They have passed the Cleveland Guardians, who are standing at 14-18 and have lost three in a row, and Detroit is a mere four games behind the 19-14 Minnesota Twins. Even better, the Tigers are only three games back in the loss column, which is important because if you need a win you can go and get it. You can't erase a loss.

How did we get here?

We got here because, while some of you were writing off the season as a result of the Tigers' 2-9 start, the team itself was not. And since the 2-9 start, the Tigers have gone 12-8.

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This is reminiscent of the 2021 season, when the team had a horrendous April – and appeared to be no better than we'd seen in other recent seasons – but rebounded to play better than .500 baseball the rest of the way and won 77 games.

That was the reason most people thought the 2022 Tigers we poised to take the next step forward and the reason Chris Ilitch decided to go ahead and spend money on multiyear contracts for Eduardo Rodriguez and Javier Baez.

Javier Baez Detroit Tigers

We all know what happened in 2022, and on March 27 we discussed the likelihood that at least some improvement would be inevitable because we simply couldn't have so many things go wrong again.

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To be sure, some things have gone wrong. Austin Meadows appears to be in the midst of another long-term absence (and remember to pray for that man), and none of the big three young starters (Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, or Matt Manning) are currently healthy.

But look what's happening. The pitchers we do have are starting to get it together. The lineup is starting to produce, not at really acceptable levels, but produce nonetheless.

Oh, and those two free agents we all felt it was a mistake to sign? Rodriguez and Baez have been beasts for the past couple of weeks.

And W.G. is right: The Tigers have gone 14-17 while fighting through a very difficult April and early-May schedule. No one can say for sure that they will do well against the ostensibly weaker teams coming up, but it does say something that they held their own against the teams they've faced so far.

I said in the piece linked above that the Tigers' best shot at a playoff berth this year is not a wild card but a push to win the weak American League Central. Look at the standings. That is absolutely true as we sit here today.

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