As week 2 of the season came to an end for the Detroit Tigers with a rousing 10-1 win over the A’s, all seems right with the world. At 7-5, the Tigers are tied with the Royals for 1st place in the AL Central after taking 2 of 3 from both the Blue Jays and A’s. The bats are bashing, the starting pitching has been outstanding, the defense has been nearly flawless, and the bullpen….well, that’s another matter.
Below I will categorize a variety of things while giving my opinion as to what’s what 12 games into the 2013 season.
Most Important Outcome of the Week
Beating Oakland 2 out of 3 on the road. The Tigers need to play well on the road this season and to go into Oakland, a place where they have struggled at times, and completely wipe out two outstanding pitchers on Saturday and Sunday for the series win was very impressive. The A’s were 8-2 and riding high before the Tigers came to town and knocked them back down to size.
Offensive Player of the Week
This won’t just be for the Tigers as Prince Fielder will easily win MLB offensive player of the week. The big fella is hitting .427 with a .527 on-base % through 12 games with 4 homers and 19 RBI’s. Against Toronto and Oakland this week he was 12 for 19 (.632) with two homers, four doubles, and 11 RBI’s. Fielder’s dominance has rounded out a ridiculously productive top four in Jim Leyland’s lineup. Austin Jackson is hitting .386, Torii Hunter .407, and Miguel Cabrera .320. Once Victor Martinez starts finding holes in the defense things will get really ugly for the opposition.
Starting Pitcher of the Week
Anibal Sanchez won the opener against Toronto and the series finale in Oakland to go 2-0 on the week. He allowed 3 earned runs on just 8 hits and 5 walks through 14 innings of work while striking out 16. After a wobbly spring fans weren’t sure what to expect from the 5-year/$80M man. His 1.42 ERA after his first three starts has quieted all doubts.
Reliever of the Week
After getting beat around a bit in week 1, Phil Coke turned in 1.2 scoreless innings in week 2 with three K’s and no walks while allowing just one hit. Leyland has handed the 9th innings keys to Joaquin Benoit for the most part but Coke will still see big innings late in games. A productive Coke is a very good thing for the overall health of the Tigers’ pen.
Unnecessarily Bold Prediction of the Week
Three Tigers will finish in the top five of the AL MVP voting. Cabrera and Fielder are the givens. The wild card is Jackson. He looks so comfortable at the plate right now that it’s fun to project what he might be able to pull off over the course of the season. I have little doubt he will lead the league in runs with 130 or more. His 17 are already three ahead of the now injured Coco Crisp. His 22 hits are tied for the MLB’s best with teammate Torii Hunter. If Jackson can hit .320 (which is optimistic) with 15 homers, 130 runs, and find a way to steal 20+ bases while earning his first Gold Glove in centerfield it will be awfully tough for voters to ignore.
Minor League Noise
With the early season struggles of Brayan Villarreal there could be some roster turnover coming soon at his expense. Three relievers who are basically major league ready are Luke Putkonen, Jose Ortega, and Bruce Rondon. The trio has combined to allow zero runs in 17.2 innings for the Mud Hens. Rondon has 3 K’s and 2 walks through 4 innings thus far, allowing just 1 hit. Putkonen has walked 4 in 7 innings but has struck out 6 and allowed just 5 hits. Ortega has allowed 3 hits and 2 walks in 6.2 innings while striking out 6. It won’t be long and the smart money is on Putkonen getting the first look but keep in mind that Leyland really likes Ortega.
Meanwhile, Casey Crosby has been torched for 7 runs on 7 hits and 8 ghastly walks in just 7 innings so far, covering 2 starts.
Nick Castellanos is off to a .267 start for Toledo with 3 doubles, a triple and 3 RBI’s. Teammate Jordan Lennerton (1B) is off to a hot start, hitting .333 with a homer and 6 RBI’s. If the Tigers need a bat at any point in the early part of the season, Lennerton could get the nod.
The Tigers rest on Monday before a 3-game set at Seattle and then 3 more at the Angels. Fister will get the ball twice this week. With 3 games starting after 10 eastern time I recommend sneaking in a few afternoon naps as both of these series’ should be entertaining.
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