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MLB Detroit Tigers

5 Detroit Tigers Who Have Been Pleasantly Surprising in 2013

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5 Detroit Tigers Who Have Surprised in 2013

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

After a recent sweep of the Cleveland Indians, the Detroit Tigers have extended their American League Central lead to 5.5 games and look like a clear-cut favorite, at this point in the season, to run away with things.

Being in one of the weakest divisions in baseball and being the only team over .500, the Tigers still have a long way to go, but their best baseball is still ahead of them.

While they are 35-26 and not looking back, I believe that they have underachieved as a team. They have yet to hit their stride and carry themselves to a stellar record. If it weren't for their recent stretch of poor play without center fielder Austin Jackson, they could find themselves close to 20 games over the .500 mark.

Having one of the best offenses, if not the best, in the MLB, the Tigers are sure to score runs every time out. Miguel Cabrera has put his Triple Crown hat back on and is feverishly chasing the coveted award for the second straight season. If Cabrera wins the Triple Crown again in 2013, he would be the only player to ever accomplish such a feat in league history -- two straight Triple Crowns.

Cabrera isn't the only batter that has been hitting the cover off the ball this season for Detroit. Prince Fielder is second on the team in home runs and his batting average is hovering around the .290 mark, hoping to make it two straight seasons with a .300 or better average.

Pitching has also been a strong point for this team as Anibal Sanchez has led the way in 2013. Justin Verlander has disappointed a bit, but still has eight wins and intimidation on his side.

Here are the top five Detroit Tiger players who have been pleasantly surprising this season.

Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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Anibal Sanchez, SP

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Sanchez has been sparkling all season long for the Tigers. Leading the team with a 2.65 ERA and second on the team with 98 strikeouts. With a little more run support, he'd have close to 10 wins. He's not necessarily a surprise, but the amount of success he's had has been out of the blue.

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Brayan Pena, C

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

When the Tigers got rid of Gerald Laird after the 2012 season, many fans were upset because of the solid backup play he delivered at catcher. Now they have Brayan Pena and he has picked up right where Laird left off. Hitting .289 with two homers and 11 RBI's, he's been a solid relief for struggling catcher Alex Avila.

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Jhonny Peralta, SS

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While he's in the middle of a performance-enhancing drug scandal, Jhonny Peralta has still been a pleasant surprise for the Tigers. Leading all shortstops with a .338 batting average, he also has six homers and 26 RBI's to go with it. No one saw this coming.

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Jose Valverde, Closer

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Jose Valverde is by no means a lights-out closer. Every once in a while, a team tags him for a handful of runs and a blown save, but for the most part, he has been solid since being reacquired by the Tigers in 2013. Up until May 31, his ERA was an impressive 0.75 and he had five saves, two weeks later and his ERA has ballooned to 4.02, but now has eight saves. He's been surprising in the way that no one thought he would remain with the Tigers for longer than a couple weeks.

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Matt Tuiasosopo, OF

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Having been awarded his first MLB stint since 2010, Matt Tuiasosopo has been brilliant for Detroit. Coming off the bench and being that guy that can get a clutch pinch-hit has been his specialty and he has not taken any chance to play for granted. He's hitting .339 with two homers and 14 RBI's, coming out of nowhere to be a solid contributor for the Tigers.