24 Games in the books, and one month into the season the Tigers sit at 14-10 and a game ans a half back of the Twins in the AL Central. Looking around the AL that record is good enough for 4th behind the aforementioned Twins, red-hot Rays, and as always the Yankees. Pretty good, considering that the Tigers are dead last in the AL in starters ERA. Added to that, they had a hellacious 11 game West Coast trip in the middle of the month, in a span of their current 20 games in a row without an off-day. So what's going right so far for the Tigers to have them off to their best record on May 1st since 2006?
Austin Jackson - The consensus was Austin Jackson would be in the running for AL rookie of the year. I don;t know if anyone expected him to win the award in April. Austin leads the majors in hits. That's for everybody not just rookies. Yes, there are the strikeouts and the lack of power, but getting on base and making outstanding plays in the field.
Miguel Cabrera - If Austin Jackson won the ROY for April, Miguel Cabrera won the MVP. All of his 5 home runs have either tied the game, or put the Tigers in the lead. He's also batting .483 with RISP, which has helped him lead the Majors in RBI.
Dontrelle Willis - Yes, Dontrelle Willis. With the trade of Nate Robertson in the waning days of spring training, the Tigers pretty much said Dontrelle's our #5 guy and we've thrown away the safety net. All Dontrelle did is go out and arguably be the Tigers best pitcher in April. 3 of his 4 starts were quality starts, with his best coming earlier this week against the Twins. Now talk this all with a grain of salt, as last year ace in April is now in Toledo (Armando Galarraga).
The Bullpen - While the starters haven't been quite up to expectations, the Bullpen has been pulling in more than their share. The Tigers Bullpen leads the Majors in wins and ERA.
New Additions - Phil Coke, leads the team in wins and has been solid in the set-up role in the pen. Jose Valverde after blown his first save, allowed only two hits the rest of the month. Papa Grande, now has the lowest ERA on the team. Max Scherzer is tied with Willis for the lead in quality starts, and is 2nd to Verlander in strikeouts. Johnny Damon has kept up the tradition of the productive 2 spot established by the departed Placido Polanco.
Tiger Bats - The Tigers have the best team batting average in the Majors. They lead or are in the top five in the following: hits (1), doubles (1), runs (5), OBP (1), and OPS (4). They are also getting the big hit when its needed. 6 of the 14 wins the Tigers were trailing after 6 innings.
May started off with some more late inning heroics as Johnny Damon hit his first home run of the year to win the game earlier today in the walk off fashion. This month the big series keep on coming. First its a visit to the Twins, then they host the Yankees and Red Sox back to back. Then its back out west for a mini 9 game road trip, before coming home to host Oakland. Hopefully we'll still be talking about the Tigers in the same favorable tones.