The Detroit Tigers have one of the most talented pitchers in the Majors (Justin Verlander), one of the best power hitters in the game (Prince Fielder) and the reigning AL Most Valuable Player (Miguel Cabrera)…so the AL Central should be easy to win, right? Kind of.
After Verlander, the rest of the Tigers starting rotation are inconsistent. When Verlander started, the Tigers were 21-12. In games without him, Detroit was only 67-62.
Will the Tigers go forward with their current rotation or will they make a few trades?
Victor Martinez is back from his knee injury. Will be produce at the same level as 2011, or has he lost a step?
Here is the 2013 MLB season preview for the Detroit Tigers.
2012 Win/Loss Record: 88-74
Key Additions: OF Torii Hunter, C Brayan Pena, 2B Jeff Kobernus, C Roman Cabrera
Key Losses: P Jose Valverde, 2B Ryan Raburn, P Adam Wilk, P Andy Oliver, P Daniel Schlereth, OF Delmon Young
Interleague Schedule: NL East + Pittsburgh Pirates
Projected Starter: Alex Avila, Prince Fielder, Omar Infante, Miguel Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta, Andy Dirks, Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter, Victor Martinez
Projected Starting Rotation: Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez, Rick Porcello
Closer: Bruce Rondon
Fantasy Sleepers: OF Andy Dirks - In limited action last season (344 at-bats), Dirks hit .322 and hit eight homers with 35 RBI. The Tigers just released Brennan Boesch, so Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter and Dirks appear to be the three main outfielders in Detroit. Dirks appeared to possibly be in a platoon with Boesch, so with him out of the picture, he will see increased at-bats. I don’t expect Dirks to hit .300 with 550+ at-bats, but he will finish the season around .280/15/85. He’s worth a few bucks at auction. You could possibly steal him for $1 in mixed leagues.
Team Analysis: As I stated in the opening piece, the Tigers’ pitching staff has issues they wasn’t addressed this offseason. Scherzer and Fister put up fantastic number in 2012, but were inconsistent. The rest of the rotation, Sanchez & Porcello, were even worse. I expect them to make a move at some point this season. I would bet the Tigers will trade the Cubs for Matt Garza and ship a package featuring 3B prospect Nick Castellanos. The other big question mark is at closer. They are insisting that the 22-year old has the job going into Spring Training. He only pitched nine games in Triple-A and has a 5.10 walks-per-nine-innings ratio. To put that stat into perspective, Jose Valverde’s W/9 was 3.5 last season…very respective for closer. I believe the Tigers will hit their way out of a few poor pitching performances. Fielder and Cabrera are in their prime and will put up insane numbers. Victor Martinez is back from an ACL tear. Martinez and newly-acquired Torii Hunter are a major upgrade over Delmon Young and Ryan Rayburn. They should win the AL Central by at least ten games.
Sportsbook.ag’s 2013 Wins Over/Under Line: 93 (Prediction: UNDER)
2013 Projected Win/Loss Record: 92-70 (1st in AL Central)
Since Kate Upton was once rumored to be romantically involved with Justin Verlander, it gives me an excuse to post a shirtless photo of her. She did have a New York Yankees hat on, but with my extremely average artistic abilities, I made it Detroit-friendly. You’re welcome.