Tigers will carry AL Central

Despite mediocre first half, Detroit is poised to run away with division crown

Originally Published: July 13, 2013
By Dave Cameron | ESPN Insider

Anibal SanchezGregory Shamus/Getty ImagesDetroit's Anibal Sanchez has pitched particularly poorly in clutch situations this season.

The Detroit Tigers are supposed to be one of the best teams in baseball. With Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder anchoring the offense, and a starting rotation that is the envy of every other team in the game, this is a club that was built to crush the American League Central and play deep into October. However, as of Friday the Tigers were 51-41, just 2 1/2 games ahead of the Cleveland Indians, having lost far too many games they should have won.

Part of that is their defense, as they've exchanged range at first and third base to maximize offense, and their pitchers pay the price for that trade-off. However, even accounting for the runs that their fielders give away, the Tigers have played better than a 51-41 team would indicate. At 5.1 runs scored per game and 4.2 runs allowed per game, the Tigers' run differential suggests that they should be 55-37, which would give them the second-best record in the AL and a comfortable lead in their division.

So why are the Tigers winning fewer games than their runs scored/allowed would suggest? Put simply, they've been absolutely terrible in clutch situations.