DETROIT – Hey Detroit sports fans, we need a little help settling a newsroom debate.
On Monday, our wise and thoughtful assignment editor Matt Triplett walked into the newsroom and asked an interesting question:
“Which of the four major Detroit sports teams will have the best winning percentage next season?”
These types of debates are nothing new at Local 4, so of course, assignment editor James Jackson and ClickOn’s Dave Bartkowiak and Ken Haddad jumped in on the fun. Mostly we argue about sports, food and whatever Rod Meloni is fired up about on a given day.
We often have strong opinions on sports topics, but Matt’s question really made us pause.
We’re talking about each team’s upcoming season. So for the Pistons, Red Wings and Lions, that’s the 2021-2022 season. For the Tigers, it’s the one that begins in April 2022.
Right off the bat, we narrowed the discussion down to two choices: the Tigers and Pistons.
Even Dave, who lives and breathes hockey (he’s still battling trust issues from the Barry Sanders era of Lions football), didn’t pick the Red Wings. Steve Yzerman has the franchise pointed in the right direction, but not much is expected of this upcoming season.
The Lions, well, nobody wanted James to laugh at them, so they didn’t get brought up. If Ken had even opened his mouth, Matt would have yelled, “Kool-Aid Ken” and teased him for being a season ticket holder, like, 100 years ago.
So again, it came down to the Tigers and Pistons.
James and I are baseball guys first and foremost, and we were mostly on the same page. But as is often the case, I came off a bit more... outspoken.
While I think the Pistons are more likely to make the playoffs next season, my gut feeling is that the Tigers will have a better winning percentage.
Sure, with Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart, Jerami Grant and other contributors returning from last season, we should all be very excited about what Troy Weaver is building. Adding Cade Cunningham -- who I believe is a surefire difference-maker with star potential -- will multiply that excitement tenfold.
But I think the Tigers have a chance to finish around .500 next season, and people might be forgetting just how big of a jump that would be for the Pistons.
Last season, despite all the positive signs and improvement, the Pistons finished 20-52 -- the second-worst record in the NBA and THIRTY-TWO games below .500. The roster is going to look more or less the same next year, with the addition of Cunningham and a couple other draft picks. If that’s enough to add 20+ wins in one season, it would be an epic turnaround.
I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it feels a lot less likely than the Tigers doing it because, well, the Tigers have already been doing it for three months.
Since losing 24 of their first 33 games, the Tigers are 38-31 this year. That’s almost half a season’s worth of games playing well above .500 baseball. It’s not difficult to imagine the Tigers flirting with .500 next year because they are already physically doing that right now.
Take into account that Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, Matt Manning and some young offensive players are likely to take steps forward, and it’s easy to see a path to 80+ wins in 2022.
If the Tigers pay up for a free agent shortstop like Carlos Correa, Trevor Story or Corey Seager, that would also be a huge boost. Prospects Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson could make their debuts at some point, too.
It’s worth noting that Ken and I are very high on the direction of the Pistons, and by the time October rolls around, we’ll both talk ourselves into believing they’re the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference. But that’s still many Cade Cunningham YouTube videos away, so right now, I’m sticking with the Tigers.
Dave agrees with me, because he’s a really smart guy. Ken also chose the Tigers, but I know his heart is telling him otherwise. He has very good food opinions, so I try not to be too hard on him either way.
I don’t think Matt or James gave definitive answers, but I get the sense they were even more torn between the Tigers and Pistons than the ClickOn staff.