Does David Price make Detroit the Automatic Favorites?

david-price-detroitThe Detroit Tigers are already having a very good season, sitting atop the AL Central with a 59-47 record. Of course, every baseball team can use some improvement and the Tigers are no exception.

This is especially the case when you consider that they’re several games behind the Oakland A’s in the race for the American League’s best record. They are also neck and neck with AL East leader Baltimore for the league’s second-best record. So what did Detroit go out and do? Give their starting rotation a jolt by adding former Cy Young winner David Price.

The left-hander was brought over from Tampa Bay in a three-team deal that also involved the Seattle Mariners. Before we discuss Price’s impact on Detroit, let’s take a quick look at the breakdown of this three-team trade:

– Rays get infielder Nick Franklin from the Mariners and left-hander Drew Smyly from the Tigers. They also receive 18-year-old shortstop prospect Willy Adames from Detroit.

– Seattle receives outfielder Austin Jackson from Detroit.

– The Tigers get Price from Tampa Bay.

This was definitely an important move for Detroit, which recently watched the A’s add left-hander Jon Lester through a trade with the Boston Red Sox. Oakland also picked up Chicago Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija in early July, which will make them even tougher should they hold on to their division (and AL) lead.

Detroit now boasts a starting rotation that includes Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Price – all former Cy Young winners. So from a pitching perspective, they will match up very well with the A’s, should the two teams meet in the postseason. One might even consider the Tigers to be favorites to win the AL, and maybe even the World Series, since they boast an extremely strong starting rotation.

Looking at Price individually, he’ll replace Smyly and add another ace to the pitching staff. He leads the AL in both strikeouts (189) and innings pitched (170.2), and he’s third in strikeouts per walk and seventh in WHIP (1.05). Price also boasts a 3.11 ERA and a record of 11-8. The latter figures to improve now that the 28-year-old is playing on a team with better bats, with Detroit averaging 4.7 runs per game.

david-price-detroit-1Based on everything that Price brings to the table, one might favor the Tigers to win the World Series. Of course, there are still over 40 games left in the regular season, which is a long time before the postseason. So it’ll be a while before we see how everything plays out.

One thing that is for sure, though, is how the Price deal also makes sense beyond this season. Scherzer can be a free agent at the end of the year, and he’s already turned down a 6-year, $144 million extension from Detroit. So there’s definitely a chance that he’ll be in a different uniform next season. As for Price, he won’t be a free agent until after the 2015 season. And if Detroit can’t convince Scherzer to come back, they could use that extra money to extend Price. Combined with Verlander, Anibal Sanchez and Rick Porcello, that makes for one strong rotation moving into the future.

MLB Power Rankings for April 30th, 2013

david-ortizIn the last Major League Baseball power rankings that we ran, nobody had played more than a couple of games, which made it difficult to gauge where teams were headed. However, a month is now down in the 2013 MBL season, and we’ve had time to get a little more accurate perspective on who’s for real this year.

Interestingly enough, some of the early season favorites have struggled out of the gate, with the L.A. Dodgers (12-13) and L.A. Angels (9-16) both falling short of expectations thus far. They certainly won’t be appearing in our top 10 this week, but the following teams will.

1. Boston Red Sox (18-7) – It’s been a season of streaks for Boston since they won seven games in a row earlier and are now on a five-game win streak. Clay Buchholz (5-0, 1.19 ERA) and Jon Lester (4-0, 2.27 ERA) have been the league’s best 1-2 starting combo this year. But there is cause for concern with the rest of the staff since it’s been average at best. The batting lineup doesn’t give opposing pitchers any break, and David Ortiz’s (.516 BA, 11 RBI) return from injury has only made the best team in baseball that much better.

yu-darvish2. Texas Rangers (16-9) – Nobody has pitched better in 2013 than the Texas starters. The Rangers’ staff boasts a 3.02 ERA, which is tops in the league. Yu Darvish (4-1, 1.65 ERA), Nicholas Tepesch (2-1, 2.53 ERA) and Justin Grimm (2-0, 1.59 ERA) have all been outstanding and are the biggest reason why Texas leads the AL West. On offense, Lance Berkman (.319 BA, .933 OPS) has shined with his new team; but some of the other hitters like David Murphy (.176 BA, .524 OPS) leave something to be desired.

3. Detroit Tigers (14-10) – There are some signs of life in the defending AL champions as they’ve now won four straight games. Anibal Sanchez (3-1, 1.34 ERA) has been one of the best pitchers in baseball while the offense is doing fairly well too. Miguel Cabrera (.375 BA, .992 OPS) and Torii Hunter (.375 BA, .917 OPS) have been outstanding, but they really need some help from Andy Dirks (.167 BA, .468 OPS) and Alex Avila (.169 BA, .490 OPS).

chris-johnson-braves4. Atlanta Braves (16-9) Following a disappointing sweep at the hands of the Detroit Tigers, Atlanta no longer has the league’s best record – although they do still top the NL. And they’ve gone just 3-7 over the past 10 games. But there’s certainly no reason for panic because the Braves feature two of baseball’s best hitters in Justin Upton (12HR, 1.171 OPS) and Chris Johnson, who’s hitting a torrid .387 so far. The bullpen has also been dominant with a league-leading 2.18 ERA.

5. New York Yankess (15-10) – The Yankees are currently going through some injury issues right now, but they’re still playing fairly well. Bright spots include starter Andy Pettite (3-1, 2.22 ERA) and closer Mariano Rivera (1.80 ERA, 9-for-9 SV). New York has also featured a solid batting lineup, led by Robinson Cano (.316 BA, .986 OPS), Travis Hafner (.305 BA, 1.117 OPS) and Vernon Wells (.294 BA, .911 OPS).

starling-marte6. Pittsburgh Pirates (15-11) – Pittsburgh has been the early season’s biggest surprise after ascending to the NL Central’s top spot. They’ve gone 14-6 after a rough 1-5 start and have mainly pulled this off through good pitching. A.J. Burnett (2-2, 2.83 ERA) is doing a solid job, as is Jeff Locke (3-1, 2.83 ERA). The only major weakness – and it’s a big one – has been Jonathan Sanchez (0-3, 12.71 ERA). On offense, 24-year-old Starling Marte (.323 BA, 7SB) has really stepped up and given the Pirates a spark.

7. Baltimore Orioles (15-11) – The Orioles have played strong at both home (7-5) and the road (8-6). Baltimore can give a big thanks to their hitters since the team is second in baseball with 129 runs scored. Going further, Adam Jones (4HR, 9RBI) and Chris David (9HR, 28RBI) have been a fearsome 1-2 punch over the first month. The only reason why the Orioles haven’t won more games is due to subpar starting pitching. Jake Arrieta was demoted after a poor start and the Orioles are currently searching for a reliable number five starter.

pat-corbin8. Arizona Diamondbacks (15-11) – Although a game behind the Rockies right now in the West, we like Arizona’s young emerging squad. First baseman Paul Goldschmidt (.305, .923 OPS) has looked really good while pitchers Pat Corbin (3-0, 1.91 ERA) and Wade Miley (2-0, 2.37 ERA) have helped give the Diamonbacks a solid rotation. However, Brandon McCarthy (0-3, 7.48 ERA) is really going to need to step up his play.

9. Washington Nationals (13-13) – This is not the ideal start for a team which most people thought was the best in the National League. A lack of offense has been detrimental so far with cleanup hitter Adam LaRoche (.135 BA, .480 OPS) epitomizing these struggles. Anthony Rendon (.200 BA) hasn’t done too well either after replacing the injured Ryan Zimmerman at third base. But as expected, the pitching staff has held things together with a collective 3.63 ERA.

10. Colorado Rockies (16-10) – The Rockies bolted out to a hot start and and still remain atop the NL West. However, their starting pitching has come back down to earth lately and Colorado has only gone 4-6 over the past 10 contents. But there’s also plenty to be excited about since this team gets staff ace Jhoulys Chacin back from injury. Plus the offense is leading the league with 127 runs scored and has smacked a collective 32 home runs.