The Detroit Tigers had a wonderful opening weekend, taking two out of three from their division rivals, the Cleveland Indians. As a result, and as of this moment, with 1.8% of the season in the books, the Tigers’ 2-1 record has them sitting atop the AL Central, tied with the Minnesota Twins and the Kansas City Royals.
So yes. The Tigers are in first place. And while it’s too early to break out the champagne, it is worth noting that Michigan sports bettors are plenty excited about the Tigers’ early success.
In fact, according to DraftKings’ internal numbers, the Tigers — at +6000 to win the division — have a measly 5% of the sportsbooks’ nationwide handle. But in Michigan? The handle soars to 61%.
That’s right. Of all the money bet on the AL Central in Michigan, 61% of it is coming in on the Tigers. Worth noting: Coming into the season, the Tigers’ win total at DraftKings was pegged at 68.5.
This quirk was first reported by Ben Fawkes, the vice president of digital content for VSiN, which was recently purchased by DraftKings.
Great MLB betting stat from @DKSportsbook's preseason notes:
In Michigan, the Tigers were the most popular bet (39%) and had the biggest handle (67%) to win the AL Central at 60-1 odds.
Across all DK books, Detroit had 5% of bets and handle to win division.
So far, so good …
— Ben Fawkes (@BFawkes22) April 1, 2021
Of course, the Tigers probably aren’t going to keep up their .667 pace, which begs the question: Is there any chance this team is actually hanging around come the dog days of summer?
So you’re saying there’s a chance?
On the offensive side, the team has a bit of pop up and down the order. No home run champions in this current crew, but from Robbie Grossman at the top of the lineup down to Jacoby Jones at the bottom, the whole lineup has, at minimum, decent power. This is not to say this is a murderer’s row of any sort; at best, it’s a “light kidnapping” row.
The pitching side is a little dicier, with the team hoping their nominal No. 1 Matt Boyd goes back to his 2019 form. After Boyd … well, much like their current lineup, not terrible, but not exactly making batters quake in the cleats. Spencer Turnbull is serviceable, and there’s hope Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal make the jump to “serviceable-to-a-notch above.”
The real hope for the Tigers, however, comes with their top prospect, Spencer Torkelson. He’s not expected to be with the big club this year, but if the Tigers are hanging around come August, who knows.
Another would-be rookie is pitcher Matt Manning, a 6-foot-6-inch strikeout machine who is expected to join the Tigers at some point this season.
So … Boyd and Turnbull hit their stride … Mize and Skubal exceed expectations … Manning comes up mid-season and burns through the league … Torkelson gets a surprise call-up and starts smacking the ball around Comerica Park … the bullpen holds together … the regulars have career years …
All that happens, and maybe, just maybe, those +6000 longshot Tigers make a bunch of Michigan residents some real money.