The Detroit Tigers are rebuilding, but they're also hanging around in the American League Central.
The first is a no-brainer, following last year's roster purge in which stars such as Justin Verlander, J.D. Martinez and Justin Upton were dealt for a bevy of prospects. The second, though, is one of the five biggest first-half surprises in standings, according to MLB.com's Richard Justice.
Granted, it's early June, and the Tigers have scored all of one run in two games so far in Boston in the midst of losing four of their last five. But at 29-34, the Tigers sit in second play in the AL Central entering Thursday's games, just 4.5 games behind the Cleveland Indians and just a half-game ahead of the Minnesota Twins.
The Indians' sluggish start certainly has helped, but Justice writes the Tigers have plenty to feel good about with their young talent.
"They still have some work to do, but the emergence of youngsters like third baseman Jeimer Candelario and reliever Joe Jimenez have offered fans a glimpse of a bright and shiny future," Justice writes. "In addition to using the No. 1 pick of the Draft on Auburn righty Casey Mize, the Tigers have four right-handed pitchers on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list, and all of them could be in the big leagues next season. With Nicholas Castellanos having his best season and Miguel Cabrera continuing to build on a Hall of Fame resume, the Tigers have been an entertaining, scrappy team in 2018."
The Tigers have an opportunity to strengthen their foothold in the division over the next eight days. After wrapping up the Boston series on Thursday, the Tigers play host to the Indians for three games Friday through Sunday, and then entertain the Twins in a three-game series June 12-14.
The Tigers have won just two of seven meetings so far with the Indians this season, and lost two of three to the Twins last month in Minneapolis.