Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Can Detroit Win the AL Central?

Now that the MLB All-Star Game is in the past the focus squarely lands on the remainder of the season and the prospect of October baseball. The question in Detroit is; can the Tigers win the American League Central?

Short answer; yes.

The long and rather nerdy answer is much more revealing. This answer is a little less definitive. Can the Tigers win the American League Central? Maybe.

Despite a few rough patches over the course of the first 92 games of this season the Tigers find themselves in first place over the Cleveland Indians by 0.5 games. Sabermetrics show that if the Tigers continue on the exact same pace as they have had for the first 92 games, they will win the AL Central by 0.884 games.

Those same sabermetrics show that Detroit is on pace to win 86.282 games this season, which is physically impossible but given the nature of baseball can't be put out of the question. They are also on pace to lose 75.71 games this year. 

So, statistically speaking, the Tigers can indeed win the American League Central, albeit by only 0.884 games. But just making it to the postseason isn't good enough, do the Tigers have a shot at advancing in the playoffs?

Although nothing is impossible, the fact of the matter is that the Tigers may win the Central but they would be the weakest team in the postseason. At the All-Star break the Tigers would be in third place in the American League West, trailing the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In the AL East, Detroit would be sitting in fourth place a whole seven games behind the Boston Red Sox.

The Tigers can win the AL Central, simply because it's the weakest division in the American League. But don't expect too much from Detroit should the statistics prove to be true. They're the sixth best team in the American League for a reason.

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