Blues Brothers

Considered title contenders, both Detroit and Philadelphia are below .500. Which is more likely to turn around its season?
July 09, 2012

The Data

39--40 (through Sunday); 3rd place in AL Central, three games back; $132.3 million payroll (fourth highest in AL)

36--45; last place (fifth) in NL East, 11 games back; $174.5 million payroll (highest in NL)

The Culprit

The Tigers have the worst defense in the majors, with a ball put in play against them more likely to produce a base runner than against any other team. As a result, Detroit ranks 11th in runs allowed (353).

Because of injuries, starter Roy Halladay, second baseman Chase Utley and first baseman Ryan Howard had combined for 721/3 innings pitched and 14 plate appearances (excluding Halladay's 27).

Outside Help

Detroit has to address its defense, which may mean either acquiring a third baseman, such as San Diego's Chase Headley, and moving Miguel Cabrera to DH, or upgrading the corner outfield spots.

The Phillies' bullpen in front of closer Jonathan Papelbon has been problematic. The A's Brian Fuentes, Twins' Matt Capps and Astros' Brett Myers are all logical targets.

The Outlook

The Tigers play in the AL Central, where 85 wins might be enough. The rotation could be much stronger in the second half: Righty Doug Fister recently returned from the DL after a left-side strain.

The Phillies will look to the DL for their help. A lineup with Utley (already back) and Howard (could return in July) and a rotation with Halladay (possibly early August) will bring them to full strength.

Verdict

The Tigers. They have an easier division, more prospects to deal and a G.M. (Dave Dombrowski) who knows how to upgrade a roster.

TWO PHOTOS

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)