Comparing Septembers: Why Tigers Fans Should Not Worry and Expect Playoffs

Entering September 10, the Detroit Tigers are sitting at 80-65, which is tied for the lead in the American League Central Division. For a team coming off of three-straight division titles, and three consecutive ALCS appearances, with a World Series appearance mixed in, this is not where the Tigers were expected to be.

Heading into the season Detroit was the heavy favorite in the American League, and projected to win their division by the widest margin of any team in baseball. However, in mid-September, the Tigers find themselves in the thick of a pennant race, scratching and clawing for every win.

Where have we heard this before? Has some other team similarly underachieved in the eyes of the fans in the regular season recently, when they were supposed to run away with their division?

Oh yeah, that was the Detroit Tigers too.

Let me take you back two years, to September 10, 2012. Coming off of a deflating 2011 ALCS loss (4-2) to the Texas Rangers, Detroit was favored to win what appeared to be a mediocre A.L. Central.

Yet, when Detroit looked up with just three weeks remaining in the season, they saw themselves three games back of the Chicago White Sox, and the wildcard no where in sight. In fact, even more than a week later, Detroit found themselves still down three games with just 15 games remaining.

We all know how this story goes. Detroit wins 10 of their last 15, Chicago loses 11 of their last 15, and Detroit marches all the way to the World Series, only to end in heartbreak.

Advance to the next season. After the games on September 10, 2013, it appeared as if Detroit had lapped the competition, as they were sitting with the comfiest 6.5 game lead over the Cleveland Indians.

Fast forward 19 days and Detroit was up just one game, with one game remaining.

We know how this one ends as well. Detroit wins, Cleveland loses, but Detroit is heartbroken yet again, this time off the bat of David Ortiz and the grandest of slams in the 2013 ALCS.

This brings us to September 10, 2014, where the Tigers find themselves in a deadlock with the Kansas City Royals, and there is more panic than ever.


Detroit has eight players on their roster making eight figures or more. They own some of the biggest contracts in the game in the names of Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander. In July, the Tigers added the most expensive player on the trade market, David Price.

Is the glass half full or half empty?

I personally don’t know the amount of content in the glass, but what I do know is that Detroit also has seven position players that each make less than one million dollars.

That is the difference in this club compared to squads in the past that threw on the Old English D. This squad is made of all types of players, with contracts in all shapes and sizes, all for one common purpose.

Cabrera coming off of back to back MVP awards, is having his worst season as a Tiger. On the contrary, Victor Martinez is having the best year of his career, leading the league in OPS despite being 35 years old. The season each of these players are having is somewhat surprising, but then when one thinks for a little longer, its not that surprising at all.

Baseball is a funny game.

This is Detroit’s advantage. They have been in this situation. Not this exact situation, but Detroit has been in playoff races recently and had to win in a multitude of ways, with a plethora of players.

They won by a wide margin in 2011 thanks to pitching, had to come back in 2012 behind the Cabrera and Prince Fielder, and had to not be complacent in 2013 with what seemed like their deepest team.

This is a new year, with same script, yet Tigers supporters seem more worried than ever.

It is easy as a fan base to bash a team that is supposed to be dominant and supposed to win the division while they are down, but “supposed” has never once won a game. Just ask the 2012 Tigers that were supposed to manhandle the San Francisco Giants in the World Series.

Detroit has a line up littered with experienced veterans and mixed in amongst those proven elders, are the young fresh legs to keep up the teams energy.

Detroit has never had this type of Shawn Johnson on a beam type balance. It took just about the whole season, but the kitties are finally rounding into form, right when they need to most.

Tony Garcia is the host of Tiger Talk for Impact Sports.