30 Clubs in 30 Days: Detroit Tigers

Posted: March 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

tigers1The class of the American League Central, the Detroit Tigers have held a a monopoly over this division since 2011. While the last few months saw the three-time defending division champions lose some key pieces, Jim Leyland’s club returns as the favorite once again. Power threat Miguel Cabrera (.348-44-137) returns along with his supporting cast of Torii Hunter (.304-17-84), Austin Jackson (.272-12-49), and Victor Martinez (.301-14-83). Gone is Prince Fielder. The former All Star was dealt to the Texas Rangers over the winter for second baseman Ian Kinsler (.277-13-72). While the move serves to weaken Detroit’s heart-of-the-order, it greatly improves their defense and the balance of their lineup.

Joining Kinsler as first time opening day Tigers are Jose Iglesias (.259-2-10), who was acquired last trade deadline in the Jake Peavy deal, and Nick Castellanos (.278-0-0), the team’s top prospect and new third baseman. Castellanos’ addition and subsequent shift of Cabrera to first makes Detroit’s infield defense world’s better than opening day 2013. Free agent signee Rajai Davis is expected to compete with Andy Dirks and Don Kelly for the starting spot in left field. Davis is absurdly quick, and would present the team with a fine complement to Jackson on the basepaths.

The Fielder deal wasn’t the only groundbreaking move for Dave Dombroski and the Tigers this winter. Detroit also served to improve their bench and prospect pool by dealing 6-8 RHP Doug Fister (14-9, 3.67) to the Washington Nationals for INF Steve Lombardozzi (.259-2-22), and southpaws Robbie Ray and Ian Krol (2-1, 3.95). The latter should prove to be a versatile left handed bullpen piece in 2014 for the Tigers. Joining Krol in that pen will be veteran closer Joe Nathan (6-2, 1.39, 43 sv), who signed with the team as a free agent from Texas. The 39-year old proved a year ago that he still has a significant amount of gas left in the tank and is immediate upgrade over Jose Valverde and Joaquin Benoit, both of whom are no longer with the organization.

Of course, the strength of the Tigers remains their dominant rotation. Even with the loss of Fister, Detroit boasts one of the more impressive pitching staffs in baseball. Justin Verlander (13-12, 3.46) remains one of the best in the bigs despite a down season in 2013. He is now joined as co-ace with Max Scherzer (21-3, 2.90), who won the AL Cy Young award during his breakout campaign. Anibal Sanchez (14-8, 2.57) is probably the best #3 in the league. Rick Porcello (13-8, 4.32) and Drew Smyly (6-0, 2.37) round out the rotation. The latter pitched out of the bullpen a year ago.

Key Acquisitions

2B Ian Kinsler (Rangers)
INF Steve Lombardozzi (Nationals)
OF Rajai Davis (Blue Jays)
RHP Joe Nathan (Rangers)
RHP Joba Chamberlain (Yankees)
LHP Ian Krol (Nationals)

Key Departures

C Brayan Pena (Reds)
1B Prince Fielder (Rangers)
SS Jhonny Peralta (Cardinals)
OF Matt Tuiasosopo (Diamondbacks)
RHP Doug Fister (Nationals)
RHP Joaquin Benoit (Padres)
RHP Jose Valverde (Mets

Projected Lineup and Rotation

2B Ian Kinsler – .267-16-63
RF Torii Hunter – .281-15-71
1B Miguel Cabrera – .321-38-114
DH Victor Martinez – .292-13-75
CF Austin Jackson – .275-13-58
C Alex Avila – .247-12-49
3B Nick Castellanos – .265-11-51
LF Rajai Davis – .262-5-32
SS Jose Iglesias – .267-5-47

RHP Justin Verlander – 14-8, 3.29
RHP Max Scherzer – 14-9, 3.26
RHP Anibal Sanchez – 14-9, 3.34
RHP Rick Porcello – 12-10, 3.95
LHP Drew Smyly – 10-6, 3.76

RHP Joe Nathan – 4-3, 2.90, 35 sv

Outlook

Even without Fielder, the Tigers boast one of the best lineups in baseball when healthy. Their defense, weakened over the past few seasons thanks to Cabrera’s ole act at third, is dramatically improved with the addition of Kinsler as well as the continued development of Iglesias at short. With Davis, Jackson, and Hunter patrolling the outfield, the Tigers might possess the best defensive lineup in the American League. That’s especially impressive when one considers that they could probably succeed with league average defense thanks to the proficiency of the Tigers’ rotation and bullpen.

tigers 2In other words, this Tigers team is a rare breed. They’re strong in the rotation, the bullpen, the lineup, and defensively. If everyone stays healthy (especially Cabrera, Verlander, and Scherzer), the Tigers will cruise to a division title once again. What happens after that is all luck as Billy Beane would say. Detroit has been in each of the last three American League Championship Series and I see no reason why they shouldn’t make it four in a row this fall. The Tigers, powerful, quick, and defensively dominant, will win between 95-101 games to capture their fourth consecutive AL Central crown. The team’s first world championship since 1984 might be next on the horizon.

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  1. […] american league central division – Google Blog Search 30 Clubs in 30 Days: Detroit Tigers | Skood Sports The class of the American League Central, the Detroit Tigers have held a a monopoly over this division since 2011. While the last few months saw the three-time defending division champions lose some key pieces, Jim … more info… […]

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