Playoff Previews: Detroit Tigers

Posted: October 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

tiger

2013 Record: 93-69, First AL Central

Offense: The offensive success of the Tigers rides on the back of one player, Miguel Cabrera (.348-44-137). Despite Baltimore’s Chris Davis preventing Cabrera from achieving the Triple Crown for the second consecutive season; the Tigers’ third baseman has once again enjoyed a storybook campaign. Joining him in Jim Leyland’s lineup are capable support hitters like Prince Fielder (.279-25-106) and Torii Hunter (.304-17-84). The true key to Detroit’s success on offense, however, will be the success of the role players like SS Jose Iglesias (.259-2-10), OF Austin Jackson (.272-12-49), and 2B Omar Infante (.318-10-51).

Rotation: Detroit possesses the best starting staff in all of baseball. Justin Verlander (13-12, 3.46), considered one of the best in baseball in most years, did not enjoy a fruitful campaign. But, even with the former MVP’s struggles, the Tigers have seen their staff succeed. It is this depth that will make Detroit an incredibly difficult team to eliminate this postseason. Max Scherzer (21-3, 2.90) will be the team’s game one starter. After he and Verlander, veteran RHPs Doug Fister (14-9, 3.67) and Anibal Sanchez (14-8, 2.57) provide the Tigers with playoff experience and stability. This, after all, is the same rotation Detroit utilized en route to the AL Pennant last year.

Bullpen: The only real weakness on this entire roster is the bullpen. The team learned their lesson with José Valverde (0-1, 5.59) and have since turned to Joaquin Benoit (4-1, 2.01, 24 SV) as their closer. Benoit has playoff experience with Detroit and Tampa Bay. But, he has never had to pitch the high-intensity ninth inning. The support staff is average. LHP Drew Smyly (6-0, 2.37) is a decent left-handed specialist and Al Albuquerque has power, even as he led the bullpen in walks. Still, the Tigers could have done more to improve this aspect of the team during the season.

Coaching: You will not find another skipper with more playoff experience than Leyland. The veteran manager, who has led Detroit since 2005, achieved the pinnacle of success with the Florida Marlins in 1997. He has also led the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Tigers to the postseason, twice championing Detroit to the World Series. If anyone is prepared for October, it is Jim Leyland.

Outlook: Win World Series, 4-2

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