If someone told a Tigers fan that this would be the closing picture to the 2012 Detroit season, they would have been ecstatic. The only problem is that this picture is from the ALCS victory, not the World Series. For the second time in six years, The Tigers were the runner up to a National League club. For Detroit fans in general, I’m sure it seems like you city has been short on luck the past several years with little hockey, the Pistons and Lions being horrible, and general economic problems. (Side note: sometimes it feels like Detroit and Cleveland are in a race to the bottom.) The Tigers have been a bright spot. Spending plenty of money, signing big free agents, and winning. But coming up short hurts bad – no one denies this.
So what did Detroit do in the off season do avoid this fate again.
Major Off-Season Moves:
A lot of people thought the deal that the Tigers gave Sanchez, $80M over 5 years, a steep price to pay for a 4th starter. But that’s the free market. The Tigers valued a 4th starter more than other teams valued a number two – because I think that’s what Sanchez can be. Meanwhile, they filled out the fifth spot by keeping Porcello around. Then the signed Torii Hunter, who is seemingly ageless. He’ll be a upgrade over having to play Delmon Young in the OF.
More goodness after the jump.
Likely Starting Lineup:
This lineup is going to stack up against any in baseball. They have a legitimate argument for the best 3-5 in baseball as long as Victor Martinez is playing like his old self. And this is the part of the lineup that will get the most attention. The reigning MVP, Miguel Cabrera headlines with Prince Fielder not far behind. But the catalyst to the offense is going to be at the top. Austin Jackson. Jackson was approaching an MVP type season, but was overshadowed when Miggy won the first Triple Crown since the 60s. He posted a 5.2 WAR and scored 103 runs. With Jackson leading off and hunter setting the table behind him for 3-5, the Tigers should put up plenty of runs. Oh and they also have a great young catcher in Alex Avila and Omar Infante to round out a fantastic lineup.
Likely Starting Rotation:
Headlining is arguably the best and most consistent pitcher is baseball, Justin Verlander. There is a reason that Verlander is easily the first pitcher selected in fantasy drafts. He is extremely reliable and is the definition of a stopper. We know this. But what’s behind him. The next three pitchers could make this rotation one of the best in baseball, or very frustrating all season. Max Scherzer is a potential star who seems to have trouble finishing games and keeping people off base, but his K rate, 11.1/9, is ridiculous. Doug Fister is a tall drink of water who tore up Detroit in 2011 when he came over in trade, but regressed last year a bit, possibly due to nagging injuries. He’s back and healthy this year. As we said above, Sanchez could easily be the best 4th starter in the league. Procello is there to take the bump every 5th game and move to the bullpen come playoff time. Really he’s perfect for that role. The real question mark is the closing situation. Bruce Rondon is a rookie with plenty of potential but Jim Leyland hasn’t really committed to him yet. The Tigers made it to the World Series despite a mess and the back of the bullpen and they will want to get that fixed before October this year.
93-69, 1st place in AL Central
The Tigers are easily the favorite in the AL Central. No team is close really. Last year, I felt the same way and predicted them to almost get to 100 wins. I’m going more conservative this year, but I still not worried about them clinching the division with time to set up their rotation for another postseason run. I wouldn
‘t mind Detroit struggling through a stretch this year if only to get some quotable stuff from Leyland. Good for blog traffic.