World Series championships are not won with the biggest, most recognizable names. They’re won with solid play on the field during the most significant moments.
We’re already hearing the following narrative, driven solely by name recognition:
"The Tigers have the best rotation in their history and one of the greatest ever, led by the three most recent AL Cy Young winners."
The second part of that statement is true. To find as strong a Tigers’ rotation as they’re now featuring, you’ll have to get in your Delorean and travel all the way back to … get this, 2013.
To examine this fully and fairly, let’s use two stats. One, ERA, is our old dog; the other, FIP, is just a puppy. By both metrics, last year saw better versions of Max, Sanchez and JV. Only Porcello has improved since then, and only in his ERA. His FIP was superior last year.
Enter David Price. The most reasonable and well-rounded way to conduct this experiment is to compare David this year to the fifth member of last year’s rotation, Doug Fister. Here, David is superior, but not by that much.
If you factor in the worse versions of Max, Sanchez, and JV, sprinkle in roughly the same Porcello, and add an upgrade in David Price, you’re looking at a similar group.