Yes, Tigers fans, it is hard to believe that we have reached the halfway point of the 2016 season, as of this writing.
Back in the day, of course, baseball used to hold its All-Star Game at this 81-game juncture. Half the fun of the All-Star game was looking a given player’s stats, multiplying by two, and getting a nice read on what kind of season he might end up with, at least in terms of numbers.
A few years back, however, the geniuses at Major League Baseball decided it was better to play the All-Star Game in the general vicinity of the 81-game point, rather than be precise about it. This year, the Tigers have to play another eight games before the All-Stars head to San Diego.
That is not going to stop us from our fun, however. So with that in mind, let us look at some statistics of key Tigers after 81 games, and choose an over/under going forward. For you non-gamblers out there, here is how it works: Mike Aviles, for example, has six RBIs through 81 games. In a hypothetical multiplying by two, that would give him 12 runs driven in for 2016. If you do not think he is going to reach that figure, you would take the under. If you think he will have more than 12 ribbies, you would take the over.
Ok, here is a look at what we foresee for some Tigers the rest of the season:
Miggy will be Miggy
Miguel Cabrera has 18 home runs, double that is 36. Can he hit that many? I see him primed for a monster second half. He may not win another batting title, but his power is back to where it used to be. It all is contingent on him staying off the disabled list. I think he will finish with over 36 home runs. In fact, I think he will top 40, so I am taking the over.
Is Castellanos developing into a star?
Nick Castellanos has 43 RBIs after 81 games. This year has been a big leap forward for him. He has cooled off after his blistering start, but as long as the opportunities to drive in runs are there, he should continue to mash the ball. He will need to maintain the solid plate discipline that has contributed so much to his improvement. Can he reach 86 RBI? I say take the under.
Fulmer can be Rookie of the Year
Rookie righthander Michael Fulmer has been nothing short of amazing with eight wins. Will he reach 16? Definitely take the under. Fulmer has the ability to do so, but the Tigers have already begun the process of limiting his innings. With the Texas Rangers’ Nomar Mazara coming back down to earth a bit, Fulmer has an excellent chance to be the American League Rookie of the Year.
The health of VMart
Designated hitter Victor Martinez has exceeded expectations this year, and he is second on the team with 91 hits. The Tigers, however, know that he is one false step away from an extended stint on the DL. There is a reason V-Mart has the slowest home run trot in baseball, and it is not because he is a showboat. His body has to break down at some point. Take the under on 182 hits in 2016.
The return of JV
Once the ace of the American League, Justin Verlander is no longer at that level. But Detroit’s staff ace has eight wins. He has pitched very, very well at times, and looked very ordinary at others. Maybe that is just the kind of pitcher Verlander has become, a guy who can give you a solid game most nights, but lay an egg occasionally. I think he will gain consistency as the summer goes on, however, and that alone should boost his second half numbers. Sixteen victories? Take the over.
When will we see Upton’s power?
The Tigers made two big free agent deals during the offseason: starter Jordan Zimmermann and left fielder Justin Upton. Zimm has been between steady and spectacular (until an injury landed him on the DL over the weekend). But JUp has been a huge disappointment with only eight home runs. We are all still waiting for that dominating month everybody told us about, the one where he looks like the second coming of Barry Bonds. I think we will see it yet. This one is easy: He will definitely hit more than eight home runs in the second half.
Don’t expect KRod to keep up his pace
The Tigers new closer, Francisco Rodriguez, has been everything the Tigers were looking for with 23 saves. I just cannot see him getting the same number of opportunities the rest of the way, however. I will take the under, only for that reason.
Kinsler will keep going yard
Spark plug second baseman Ian Kinsler surprised some people by blasting 15 homers in the first half (and as I’m writing this, he has just hit number 16 in Tampa, the 200th of his career). The 34-year old infielder has hit over 30 home runs in his career twice, so I am not going to say he is not capable of it. He is swinging more for the fences this year, as he himself has admitted, so it would be wise to take the over on this one.