Let's take a look at the competish, shall we? The Detroit Tigers were in the World Series last season. That is pretty good! Delmon Young was the MVP of the ALCS. Delmon Young. Clearly the goal of the ALCS is to take the choppiest steps while running. While watching the playoffs, my wife astutely pointed out that the 2012 Tigers could have been the fattest team ever. Miguel Cabrera, Jose Valverde, Prince Fielder, Delmon Young, Phil Coke, and Jhonny Peralta come to mind. It's not nice to make fun of people for their weight though. She thinks all baseball players are kind of fat, to be fair. It must be the uniforms. So, what were the Tigers up to this Winter? What does the 2013 season hold for the Detroit Tigers?
Let's find out!
Detroit Tigers 2012 - Actual W-L - 88-74 ; Pythagorean W-L - 87-75
Free Agent Signings - Torii Hunter - 2 years, $26 Million; Anibal Sanchez (re-sign) - 5 years, $80 Million; Brayan Pena - 1 year, undisclosed $
Trade Acquisitions - Ramon Cabrera from Pittsburgh for Andy Oliver
Key Losses - Andy Oliver, Daniel Schlereth, Adam Wilk, Jose Valverde, Delmon Young
Seriously? Actual key losses - Wow, none really
Addition by Subtraction - Valverde, who was overrated when he was good and mostly bad last year. Young, as no one in Detroit as to worry that Delmon will run into a dam while chasing a fly ball and flood the whole city.
Waiver Claims - None
Notable Minor League Deals - Shawn Hill, Don Kelly
Other Moves - Exercised Jhonny Peralta's Ohption and Octavio Dotel's option, depriving him of his annual new team tradition
Former Twin alert! - Torii Hunter signed a pretty big deal for a 37-year-old, but he's been productive the last few years.
Bullet Dodged - Torii Hunter did not sign said contract with the Twins, who would have no reason to sign him and no place to reasonably play him without blocking a younger player. There were many who still wanted the Twins to sign him.
I couldn't believe this team went to the World Series last year. I wrote this short post about the Tigers in late September last season. I did not believe in their defense and I did not think their bullpen was good beyond Joaquin Benoit. To be fair, the whole AL was pretty weak in last year's playoffs. The Yankees imploded and the Orioles and A's overachieved to even get there. I still feel that the Angels were the best AL team last season. Regardless, you can't take a World Series appearance away from a team.
Even though I still hate their defense, I see a close to non-zero chance that they miss the playoffs. In fact, I'd be very surprised if they do not win the Central. The Royals jumping up significantly is pretty much the only scenario that I see, but that still seems a bit unlikely. As big as the Tigers' holes are, they can fill them with massive power-hitting beasts. Miguel Cabrera was the MVP of the AL last year and won the Triple Crown. Prince Fielder was as advertised. Victor Martinez returns and Torii Hunter replaces Delmon Young, which makes the lineup that much scarier. If Austin Jackson and Avisail Garcia continue to develop and Alex Avila bounces back, this lineup could be extremely potent.
Their starting pitching is great as well. Justin Verlander is the best. Max Scherzer, Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez are are solid and sometimes much better than solid. The bullpen could be better, simply with the subtraction of Valverde and the addition of flame-throwing rookie Bruce Rondon. This guy throws wicked hard. He should be really fun to watch, although growing pains are to be expected. Dotel is back and Benoit is solid. Phil Coke emerged in the ALCS and could ride his confidence/quirkiness to a successful season. In fact, you could argue that Phil Coke is the Zooey Deschanel of the Tigers. You could.
All in all, this is a really good team. I think they are clearly the class of the AL Central.
Are they better than last year? Yup. Their bullpen should be improved and they get a full season of Anibal Sanchez. Plus, Victor Martinez is back and they really didn't lose anyone of significance.
How the Twins can finish ahead of them - Um, they can't?
Predicted Division Finish - First. I'd be shocked if they didn't win the Central. As high as I am on the Royals, I still think the Tigers are better. There is way too much talent on this team. Obligatory injury mention. Fin.
Interested in the rest of the Central? Here are the remaining teams. Twins coming soon.
Chicago White Sox
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Kansas City Royals