The three of us here at April in the D have an amusingly curmudgeon-like grandfather who seems to take no greater pleasure than dashing our hopes and dreams by being ridiculously pessimistic about the Tigers. In a way, he is our classic literary foil. He plays devils advocate and forces us to realize all the good things about our boys in order to defend them against his vicious verbal attacks.
However, he said one thing recently that rang a little too true... "The only guys on this team that are pulling their weight are Verlander, Fielder, Jackson and Dirks. The rest of them are a bunch o' bums."
While we would tentatively expand that list to Smyly and Cabrera as well, we kind of have to agree. All of the bumming around has done nothing to improve our win-loss ratio. It seems that these six dudes are the only ones standing between us plummeting down to last place behind the freaking-terrible Minnesota Twins.
Okay, that might be a little over dramatic, but everyone knows that the way we've been playing recently is below what this team can or should be doing.
Verlander, Fielder, Smyly, Dirks, Cabrera and Jackson, however, have been playing fabulously. Jackson got off to a fast start this year, and hasn't really slowed down at all. He may still strike out a lot, but he's fifth in the league in batting average, which is not too shabby at all. Also, Jackson may even be stepping up his defense this year. This year, he's done something that we don't think we've ever really do before, which is dive for balls. He almost always just gets there in time, or let's it bounce, but apparently he's ready to starting diving for them, which means centerfield just got smaller for all those opposing hitters.
Dirks has fit into the number two spot seamlessly, and is hitting up a storm in the month of May. The one two punch of him and Jackson is probably the most comfortable we feel in the batting order, and, since we're always rooting for the under-dog, it's nice to see a guy who was a non-roster invitee a year or so ago have the number two spot in the starting rotation. Or that's a really bad thing...we're not sure which.
Prince hits long balls, which is no surprise, but he's also been doing a lot of hustling.... more hustling than I thought possible for a big superstar like Prince. He's really shown a desire to win, which should be true of all competitive professional athletes, but seems to be especially true for him. He gets those "ribbies" for us so that's all that really matters.
Smyly has come a really long way from being a scared AA pitcher making his first start in the bigs. He's arguably the second best starter on the team, and definitely the third best in terms of performance this year. He has the second best ERA, the second best WHIP, and the third most strikeout out of all the starters. He's been doing a very good job of putting the Tigs in the position to win, which they frustratingly haven't been doing, which shows in Smyly's win loss record. Don't let that fool you though, Smyly is talented, and more importantly, he's been consistent all year long.
Verlander is the bomb. What else needs to be said? He just took a no-hitter into the ninth, and it wasn't even surprising... you're always expecting that kind of play with Verlander, which says enough in himself.
And Miguel Cabrera is Miguel Cabrera. Sure, he's not hitting .400, and he's had some rough patches, but he's always come roaring back with a vengeance. We're still holding out for him to win his first MVP of his already sparkling career. And that defense! Who out of all of you saw that coming??
So with these six great players on the team, why are we still losing to the Indians? The answer is, the rest of our team are a bunch o' bums! We couldn't have said it better ourselves, Grandpa. Leyland needs to whip these guys in to shape soon if we have a hope of realizing the dream all us crazy Tiger fans saw at the beginning of the season.
Shape up Tigers, and soon! It's getting waaaaaaaaay too hard to be optimistic.