The Detroit Tigers
ended their season this week with a 13-3 win over the Chicago White Sox
. They finished the season with an 88-74 record after making it to the World Series last year. They competed for the wild card and division title for the majority of the season but faded out as the year came to a conclusion.
The Tigers came into the 07 season with high hopes. In 2006, they were just three wins shy of winning a championship for the first time since 1984. Last season was a magical year for the Tigers as they came out of nowhere to make the playoffs for the first time in over a decade and win the pennant. Coming into this season, most fans were expecting similar results from the Tigers. They were able to sign Gary Sheffield
over the off season to add that power hitter that they really needed. Almost all their key players were also back for another season of play with that added playoff experience they did not have the season before. The Tigers started the season slow but got hot through the middle stretch and at one point had the best record in all of baseball. It looked as if this season's Tigers were better then last maybe and had a good shot at the World Series again. However, they crumbled down the stretch because of injuries and also due to the fact that the Indians
starting playing better and the Tigers simply did not.
It is hard to figure out whether to criticize these 07 Tigers for not making the playoffs or to praise them for their competitiveness. First, one can look at what they accomplished this season and then what they failed at this season.
Although the Tigers had a somewhat disappointing finish to their season, there were a number of great individual performances along with some things to look forward to next season. First, the player from the 07 Tigers who deserves the most recognition is Magglio Ordonez.
He won the batting crown this year with a .363 batting average. He also hit 28 home runs and knocked in 139 runs. He had perhaps his best season ever and might get some votes for the MVP award. Another Tiger who had an exceptional season was Curtis Granderson
. He finished with a .302 batting average, 38 doubles, 23 triples, 26 steals, 23 home runs, and 74 RBIs. Granderson was one of the only players ever to finish a season with at least 20 homers, 20 doubles, 20 triples, and 20 steals. Although he had 141 strikeouts, he lowered that number from 174 the previous season. He has developed into one of the best outfielders in the league and he should continue to improve and limit his strikeout count. Carlos Guillen
and Placido Polanco
both had great seasons yet again and have solidified the Tigers infield. Another promising player to watch over the next few years is outfielder Cameron Maybin
. Even though Maybin did not do that well statistically wise, his upside is huge and has the skills to become very successful in this league. He was one of the highest rated players in the minor leagues and getting him some experience this season will help him out significantly. Another young player that acquired some experience this season was pitcher Andre Miller
. Like Maybin, Miller was one of the highest scouted players in the minor leagues. He looked great at times but also showed his inexperience at other points in the season. He will most likely be on the pitching staff for years to come in Detroit. As for the rest of the pitching staff, Justin Verlander
again had a tremendous season after winning Rookie of the Year award last season. He finished with an 18-6 record and 183 strikeouts. Throughout his two year career he has a 35-17 record and will be one of the best pitchers in baseball for a long time.
Now shifting over the opposite side of the spectrum, a Tigers fan can see the negatives from the 07 Tigers. First of all, as mentioned before, they did not make the playoffs and defend their American League Championship. Someone can make any excuse or say anything good about the Tigers, but they did not reach their goal of at least making the playoffs again and beyond. They fell apart when it mattered the most and could not step up to the competition. They led their division for a number of weeks, but could not hold unto the lead.
The main reason they could not make the playoffs this season was because of their pitching staff. Last season the Tigers' team ERA was 3.84, this season it jumped up to 4.57. Their staff was riddled with injuries and they had few stable arms. They blew a number of saves this season, especially the first half of the season. Verlander led the staff but no one else really stepped up. Jeremy Bonderman
was probably the biggest disappointment to the pitching staff. He started out very strong again but like usual, fell apart in the second half. The two biggest injuries that hindered them were injuries to Kenny Rogers
and Joel Zumaya
. Both were pillars of the staff last season but they barely played this season. Hopefully both will come back next season healthy to lead the pitching staff once again. One thing that was not talked about enough after last season, was the loss of reliever Jamie Walker
. Walker signed a deal with Baltimore, because the Tigers did not offer him enough money. Walker was a great reliever for the Tigers for a number of years and not resigning him was a stupid mistake. Perhaps if they had kept Walker, their bullpen would have been more solid and would have blown less saves.
Even though the Tigers failed to reach their goals this season, it has been great to see the turn around for the Tigers. They were the laughing stock of major league baseball during the 90s and the early part of this decade and have not been good since the late 90s. They are finally competitive and fun to watch. Fans are no longer embarrassed to be Tigers' fans or to go watch their games. Team president Dave Dombrowski
and team manager Jim Leyland
have been a huge part of bringing the roar back to Detroit and not giving them some credit would not be right. Dombrowski has brought in a great mix of talented players to a once talent starved team. Leyland has managed that talent beautifully and was the perfect choice for being the manager of this present Tigers' team. The Tigers continued success would not have been possible without the leadership both men have provided.
Now that the 07 season is over, the Tigers can start looking ahead to 2008. The Tigers should still be a very good team and should have fewer injuries. They have a number of young developing players that will continue to only get better. They also have solid players at nearly every position. However, a few concerns would be: the age of some of their key players, a solid rotation in the pitching staff, and the need for more good pitching in the bullpen. If they deal with some of those issues over the off season, they will continue to improve towards their goal of a world championship. It will be interesting to see how this potentially great team does in 2008.