Friday, March 23, 2012

30 Teams in 30 Days: Detroit Tigers

Picture via - M Live

30 in 30 – Detroit Tigers - 2012 team preview

Key Additions: Prince Fielder (1B), Octavio Dotel (RP)

Subtractions: Magglio Ordonez (RF), Joel Zumaya (RP), Wilson Betemit (INF)

2011 Record: 95-67

2011 Highlights: Justin Verlander turned out to be a pretty good pitcher for the Tigers and won the AL CY Young award, AL pitching Triple Crown & AL MVP award (posting 24 wins and 250 K’s).  Oh ya he also pitched a no-hitter May 7th against the Toronto Blue Jays.  Jose Valverde saved 49 games.  Miguel Cabrera has a monster season going 111-30-105 and hitting .344 – which won the AL batting title.  Victor Martinez also had over 100 RBI’s with 103. 

Offseason Moves: Everyone was waiting for the Tigers to do something during the offseason, so they just signed the best free agent besides Albert Pujols.  Once an offseason injury forced Victor Martinez to miss all of 2012, the Tigers needed to replace his 103 RBI’s and quick.  In walks Scott Boras and get GM Dave Dombrowski to sign Fielder to a 9 year $214 Million dollar deal.  That means that Verlander, Cabrera and Fielder will earn over $60 million dollars in 2012 – about $5 less than that KC Roylas entire payroll.

2011 Rewind – The Detroit Tigers honored long time coach Sparky Anderson on opening day, who had passed away, and retired his jersey as well.  On July 30th the Tigers saw something in Seattle’s Doug Fister (who was 3-12 and ended up going 8-1 for the Tigers with en ERA of just 1.79).  August 15th the Tigers made another big move and landed Delmon Young from Minnesota (getting 32 RBI’s in 40 games for the Tigers). 

The Tigers went 1-5 playing against the Red Sox, and 7-11 in interleague play.  They could have won 100 games if those two series’ played out differently.  They won 50 games against teams in their own division.  Detroit went on an 11 game winning streak for the first time in over 43 years.  They clinched the AL Central division on September 16th, for the first time since joining the division in 1998.  They beat the New York Yankees to advance to the American league championship series against the Texas Rangers, which they lost. 

2012 Outlook – The Detroit Tigers will just chug along in 2012.  They won 95 games and retooled both during the season and in this past offseason.  Victor Martinez will be a big loss during 2012, but if he didn’t go down, they might not have landed Prince Fielder.  Third Base will no longer be a question mark for the Tigers, as Miguel Cabrera (who will probably end the season being the best 3B in the AL).  They have an above average outfield – with Delmon Young, Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch.  They are solid behind the plate and at the corners, but not so much at DH and 2B. 

Their pitching staff 1-5 sould be a lot better in 2012, with Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, Rick Porcello and Jacob Turner.  Their 1-4 starters could all could win 15 games in 2012.  The Tigers pitchers stacks up with the best of them in the American League, probably the 2nd best behind Los Angeles Angels.       

Question Marks: Can Ryan Raburn put up a 75-20-70 season, like he can to improve on 2011?  How will Miguel Cabrera handle 3B, defensively at least?  Alex Avila came out of nowhere to hit 19 HR and 82 RBI, how will he do in 2012?  If he can get there again, he would be the top catcher in the AL.  Delmon Young needs to get back to his 100 RBI season, and there is no reason why he won’t in this potent lineup.  What do the Tigers have in their DH - Clete Thomas, Don Kelly, Brandon Inge – could be the AL’s worst DH hitter.  The Tigers don’t have a great defensive team, but with their offense and pitching they should win a lot of games once again.

Projected Lineup – Here’s how I would construct the Tigers batting order;
  1. Austin Jackson (CF)
  2. Brennan Boesch (RF)
  3. Miguel Cabrera (3B)
  4. Prince Fielder (1B)
  5. Delmon Young (LF)
  6. Alex Avila (C)
  7. Jhonny Peralta (SS)
  8. Ryan Raburn (2B)
  9. Andy Dirks/Clete Thomas (DH)
Last year the Tigers won 95 games, and came 2 games away from playing in the World Series.  This year, the Detroit Tigers look even better this year than they did last year.  Gone are the days the Tigers will lose 90+ games over a 3 year span, including 119 losses in 2003.  Miguel Cabrera took a ball off his face and has a small fracture under his right eye.  But will be in the opening day lineup.     

At BlueJaysPlus, we see the Tigers winning close to 100 games, and could easily win 100-105 games.  They will once again benefit from playing the Royals, Indians and Twins and White Sox in 2012.  They will make the playoffs in 2012 and look to make the next step and make it to the World Series this year.  That won’t be too difficult with this team. 

The Final Count: 99-63 – 1st in AL Central

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Note: There was an error when calculating how many wins the staff thought the Twins, Royals, White Sox, and Indians would have. Turns out, the entire AL Central's wins total except for the Tigers was messed up. Full corrections will be posted on March 31st in our full MLB Standings preview.

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