While the Rangers, Cardinals, Yankees, and Reds all have a better record than the Detroit Tigers, your money should still be on the Tigers as the first team to clinch a playoff spot.
Not only that, but they will most likely end up with the best record in the AL.
As a matter of fact, according to their run differential, they already are the best team in the MLB. At +60, they boast easily the best run differential and their expected win/loss record right now is 25-13. Which is much different than their actual 22-16 record.
The offense has been unreal, ranking 1st in the MLB in runs, average, and OBP. While the pitching has been solid and has seemed to get better, now ranking 3rd in quality starts, WHIP, and BAA.
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Not to mention that they play in a division with—lets be honest here—3 teams (White Sox, Twins, and Indians) that almost certainly will finish below .500. No offense to the Indians, I have enjoyed their early season success, but they wont be able to continue to mash their way to wins.
All of that combined with the fact that the Tigers possess the best hitter in baseball and arguably the best starter over the past few years, to me, means the Tigers are going to start running away with their division any day now.
After all, their one apparent weakness, the bullpen, is suddenly stable and very reliable. The combination of Ortega, Putkonen, Valverde, Benoit, and Smyly has given up a total of 9 ER in 58 innings now.
If those 5 continue to pitch like that, expect the AL Central race to be over really really soon.
Follow Cole Stevenson on twitter: @Cole_Stevenson