May 19, 2014 at 10:38 am

Kurt Mensching

Tigers not likely to keep up current pace, but 100-win season is plausible

Tigers outfielders J.D. Martinez, Torii Hunter and Austin Jackson take down the Red Sox Sunday night in Boston. (Michael Dwyer / Associated Press)

Even the computers believe the Tigers can win more than 100 games this year.

I canít believe I wrote that sentence either.

Five teams in Tigers franchise history have won 100 or more games. The last two times that has occurred, 104 wins in 1984 and 103 wins in 1968, Detroit has celebrated with a World Series victory.

With a sweep of the Red Sox, this yearís club is on pace to win 112 games.

Itís pretty safe to say absolutely no one saw that coming. Then again, few, if any, saw the Tigers winning 100 games this year either.

Remember the talk a few months ago? The majority of us were realistic, yes, saying this team may be a little bit worse but it should still win the American League Central with only a little bit of drama.

A few out there very vocally laid claim to the idea Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski hamstrung his organization with strange offseason moves and the team was bound for last place. Unsurprisingly, theyíve been laughably wrong.

Were the rest of us wrong, too, in thinking this club, on pace for the most wins in organization history, was worse? Maybe a little bit.

Letís not overcompensate and buy into a 112-win season just yet either, but 100 wins is certainly not out of the question.

The same flaws we saw all along have been present: The team ranks in the middle of the pack in home runs, and the bullpen, though better recently, still gives reason for pause. Thereís a hole in the lineup at shortstop, and Rajai Davis has begun to return to earth in left field.

Yet clearly these Tigers are a good team, guided by the best rotation in baseball, and the ability to get on base, move around the paths with ease and even slug for a little bit of extra-base power, even if the ball isnít leaving the park.

You can have a good debate about how good Oakland is, but the Tigers appear to be the best in the game.

Are they as good as their start to the year?

Well, probably not.

The Tigers have neither the most runs scored per game nor the fewest runs allowed -- the Aís lay claim to both those marks.

Detroit ranks fifth in the American League in runs scored per game (4.85) but is second in runs allowed (3.44).

So the Tigersí record is actually a little better than sabermetricians would expect it to be, somewhere in the 25-win range based on runs scored and allowed, rather than 27-12. Thatís really not a big deal.

The computers, however, are wary of projecting the blazing start to continue. Adjusting for underlying statistics and quality of opponent, Baseball Prospectus gives Detroit a .623 winning percentage. Obviously thatís not awful. It would still add up to better than a 100-win season. Yet itís quite a bit off the current .692 pace.

The key areas of Detroitís success have come in one-run games, which the Tigers have an 8-4 record in, and on the road, where theyíre 14-4. You can debate whether Detroit will continue to play .667 ball in one-run games, but it seems unlikely to continue at a .778 clip on the road the rest of the way.

So, the statistics point to caution. Just not too much caution.

Nearly a quarter way into the season, this team certainly looks like a 100-win team, so long as it remains healthy.

Now weíll just have to see if it follows in the footsteps of the fabled 1968 and 1984 clubs and brings a World Series title back to Detroit.

Kurt Mensching is editor of Bless You Boys, a Tigers blog (blessyouboys.com). He can be reached at bybtigers@gmail.com.

More Kurt Mensching