Sunday, March 18, 2012

Detroit Tigers Preview/Prediction

Now that we got the division predictions done it is time to dig a little bit deeper.  Between now and the opener in Japan each team will get their own prediction/preview.  I am going to go in alphabetical order.

Our next post takes us to the Motor City, where a huge signing has the Tigers thinking World Series.  Let's see the rest of the roster.

Infield: Alex Avila at catcher, Prince Fielder at first base, Ryan Raburn at second base, Jhonny Peralta at shortstop, and Miguel Cabrera at third base.

Alex Avila had a break out year in 2011, hitting .295 with 19 home runs.  Those are outstanding offensive numbers from a position you normally don't expect to get much out of.  He did strike out over 130 times last year, but hey no one is perfect.  Prince Fielder was one of the biggest free agent signings this year, and the fact he signed with the Tigers came as a bit of a surprise to everyone.  With Victor Martinez out for the year, they need some more offense and why not go after a guy who is a lock for 155 games, 35 home runs and 100 RBI's.  They paid an awful lot of money to get him, but if he helps them win a world series he would be worth every penny.  Ryan Raburn will get his first shot at an opening day second base start and while he also strikes out a lot, he is another player that has power at an unlikely position.  Wouldn't surprise me to see him hit 20 home runs this year, and he will have the lowest number of home runs of every infield starter on this team.  Peralta has long been underrated as a good defensive shortstop who can also hit a little bit too.  I don't expect him to hit 35 points higher than his career .269 average again, but in this line up he will not have too.  Miguel Cabrera is going to get a lot of pitches to hit with Fielder hitting behind him.  He is already the best pure hitter in the American League and now teams have no choice but to pitch to him.  Cabrera is going to have a MONSTER year this year.  

Who will have the best season of these guys? Cabrera will have the best year this year among this talented group.  He will also win the American League MVP award and will also be in the running for the Triple Crown.  Him and Matt Kemp of the Dodgers ate the two players that have the best chance to win the Triple Crown, and Cabrera will come close this year.

Outfield:  Delmon Young in left field, Austin Jackson in center field, and Brennan Bosch in right field.

Delmon Young was a hero in the Division Series against the Yankees last year, hitting home runs and clutch hits to help the Tigers advance.  He has been around forever and is still only 26, and while he doesn't really hit for a lot of power or steal a lot of bases, he has a good approach at the plate and will get plenty of chances to drive in runs hitting fifth behind Fielder.  Jackson will bat lead off and has so much talent.  He has amazing speed and if he can get on bases could score 150 runs with this lineup.  The problem with Jackson is he doesn't get on base enough, and he has got to cut down on his 181 strike outs from last year.  Bosch is a powerful left handed hitter that will also see a lot of strikes with Cabrera and Fielder behind him.  If this team is going to go far in the post season they need Bosch and Jackson to get on base for Cabrera and Fielder to hit them in.  

Who will have the best season of these guys?  All three are talented players but I am going to go with Bosch this year.  He has perhaps the least amount of talent of the three but he also has the best approach at the plate and I think that is most important.  He will score 100 runs and drive in 100 runs and be the third best hitter on this team.

Starting Pitching:  Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, and Jacob Turner.

Justin Verlander won the pitching Triple Crown last year and won both Cy Young and Most Valuable Player awards.  He is the best starting pitcher in all of baseball and will dominate again.  A lock for the all-star team, Verlander only needs to make sure he has enough in the tank for three starts in a seven game series in October.  Doug Fister will continue to make the Mariners regret that trade last August. I don't even think the Tigers expected him to be as good as he was last year, and with this lineup and this big park he will continue to thrive.  Scherzer seems like he has been in the league forever, but he is only 27 and he did win 15 games last year.  Still the drop-off between 2 and 3 is very big, and something the Tigers will have to worry about come playoff time.  Rick Porcello is only 23 years old and has very good stuff.  He is a very good #4 and should match up well with other teams fourth starters.  Jacob Turner is the top prospect for the Tigers and if he is healthy will make the staff.  He isn't even old enough to drink and yet he has the talent to make an opening day roster.  Very impressive. 

Who will have the best season of these guys? As good as Doug Fister is going to be this year, it has to be Justin Verlander.  As stated above, the man is the best in the game and is still young.  He will be in the running for the Cy Young again this year, and it wouldn't surprise me if he goes back to back.

Bullpen: Jose Valverde, Joaquin Benoit, Octavio Dotel, and Phil Coke.

This is a deep bullpen that has a little bit of everything in it. It will be a huge advantage for this team having guys like these closing down games.  This is the most underrated part of this team.  Jose Valverde had 49 saves last season and had 0 blown saves.  That is one of the more impressive stats from 2011.  The man doesn't have the most electric stuff, but he knows how to close games and that is huge for a team with World Series aspirations.  Benoit had 61 innings pitched and 63 strikeouts in 2011.  Those are good numbers.  Octavio Dotel is pitching for his 13th team this year.  That is the most for one person in MLB history.  He must be doing something right to still be pitching in the bigs, but he also wears out a lot of welcomes because he does give up a lot of home runs.  Phil Coke is the left hander out of the bullpen, and he has made so many appearances the past few years that I expect his arm to fall off at some point this year.

Who will have the best season of these guys?  Valverde will blow a save this year but not many.  With the squad that has been assembled he will have many opportunities.  He will get 40 saves at least this year and will do it with grit, moxie, and just enough pitching ability to get the job done.

Record Prediction: 101-61 first in the American League Central

Next up:  Houston Astros

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