Opinion: A Special Squad’s Secret to Success

Detroit is not just the best team in baseball. They are also the most enjoyable to watch.

Coming into Fenway against rowdy Boston fans would make any team sweat, right? You would think a team sitting at the top of the competitive MLB would have some pressure to continue winning.

If there is, they sure are not showing it.

Between Torii Hunter’s award-winning smile, Miguel Cabrera high-fiving fans in the on-deck circle and the overall happy atmosphere in the Tigers’ dugout, Detroit looks like they are thoroughly enjoying yet another six-game winning streak. Sweeping the AL East on a six-game road trip is no easy feat. But what makes this team click? It is a different squad from 2013, in the best possible way, and the answer is simple: they are having fun.

Granted, it is easy to love your job when you have won 15 of 18 games, but every game for Detroit seems to bring smiles from everyone involved. Manager Brad Ausmus is easy to love after Detroit’s start, but he has brought a whole new style of baseball to this team. The players are comfortable in the position they serve for the team and everyone goes out and does their job. Cabrera hits, Martinez drives in runs and the pitchers continue to deliver commanding performances.

The luck will run out with Detroit eventually. They will lose a few series in the next couple months. It is baseball. It happens. What we should all hope is that this team does not lose the charisma and cheer on the diamond they are showing right now. Confidence that you can smack the ball at every plate appearance makes a big difference in that batter’s box.

Look at Miguel Cabrera. Since the beginning of May, he is batting .389 with six home runs and 32 RBIs. Both he and the pitcher know that, no matter where that ball is going, he is going to get a piece of it. In 2014, Cabrera is batting .500 with runners in scoring position. It is his job to get the runs in, and he does it almost every chance he gets.

While Cabrera heats up, Victor Martinez only gets hotter. He picked up the slack for Cabrera in April and seems destined to match his ability after every at-bat. If you have watched any Tigers games, you know the statistic revolving around Martinez. He is batting an insane .390 in May, and has more homers on the year (10) than strikeouts (nine).

Martinez has the all-important job of protecting Cabrera. In 2014, he is doing more than protecting the All-Star, he is surpassing him.

In the end, pundits and critics can debate about what makes this Tigers team so special. They can point to pitching, fielding or hitting. Yes, it is a combination of all three, but the want to play baseball and the enjoyment this team is having every game is a more defining feature than any statistic can provide.

Detroit has the winning attitude in May. They can go far if they keep it up into October.

Richie Cozzolino is the host of Tiger Talk for Impact Sports.