Last season was an incredible one in Detroit to say the least. Their run in September to clinch the AL Central was unbelievable, but they couldn’t finish the journey. The Tigers had their shot against the Rangers, but couldn’t come through. Being a diehard Tigers fan, I truly believe they would’ve beat the Cardinals. But I have to move on and look forward to this season.
The Tigers had an excellent offseason and are dominating spring training so far. With their powerful lineup and excellent rotation, I truly see them winning 100 games this year.
Prince Fielder – 1B: January 24, 2012. This day will never be forgotten for all Tigers fans. I am still shocked how everything worked out. A combination of Prince and Miggy is the best in baseball and I look forward to seeing their home run celebrations.
Octavio Dotel – RP: Dotel was an under the radar signing for the Tigers. He will set the record for most teams at 13 with his first outing as a Tiger. Besides Valverde, Detroit’s bullpen was quite inconsistent last season. Dotel will be their 7th inning guy, and get the ball to Benoit.
Victor Martinez – DH: Sad to see such a great player and leader go down with an ACL injury. But without it happening, Prince would have never came to Detroit. I’m so pumped for this season, but I couldn’t even imagine all 3 of them in the lineup together.
Carlos Guillen – 2B: I’ve always been a big fan of Guillen and it’s sad to see him retire. He had some incredible potential at the plate, but those injuries just riddled his career. His showboat home run off of Jered Weaver was easily one of the best highlights of last season.
Magglio Ordonez – OF: It was his time to leave Detroit. He’s a great player, but they owed him way too much money for a 38 year old outfielder. Hopefully he can stay in the game, but I’m not sure if his injuries will allow it. I will forever appreciate Mags though because of his walk-off bomb in 2006 to send the Tigers to the World Series. It was the best moment of professional baseball I’ve ever witnessed live.
Jim Leyland’s sporadic line up cards make this very hard to predict. Being a Tigers fan, this is how I personally would make it up for Opening Day.
1. Austin Jackson – CF: I definitely haven’t bought into Jackson as a lead-off, but there really isn’t anyone else who could hit here. He’s got a revamped swing this spring and hopefully that will cut down on his strikeouts. He has the upmost potential and I’d love to see him breakout this year.
2. Brennan Boesch – RF:
3. Miguel Cabrera – 3B: Can’t say enough about this guy. I truly believe he is the best hitter in the game of baseball. He is now cleared to play after taking the grounder off the eye, and I think he will be a solid third basemen too. With Prince behind him, Miguel will get even more chances to hit at the plate and he will definitely float around the MVP award next year.
4. Prince Fielder – 1B:
5. Delmon Young – DH: Could be potentially a sleeper in leagues this year. Delmon hit 8 bombs and drove in 32 runs during the 40 regular season games with the Tigers last season. Then he went on and hit 5 jacks in just 9 games during the playoffs. He will have plenty of RBI opportunities this season and I think he will thrive in his role.
6. Alex Avila – C: After a disappointing 2010, Avila showed off his true talent last season. Hitting .295 while slugging 19 bombs gave Avila the AL Silver Slugger award for catcher. But what truly impressed me about Alex was his durability. When V-Mart wasn’t able to catch and there were no back-ups, Avila marched out behind the dish for 3 consecutive weeks with no days off. It honestly was remarkable. Plus he would take a foul ball off the neck, shoulder, or mask, once a game and it looked like he would be done. But each time, Avila shook it off and led the Tigers.
7.Jhonny Peralta – SS
8. Ramon Santiago – 2B: Andy Dirks could also make his way into the outfield while Raburn could slide into 2nd. Also, don’t count out Brandon Inge here, but I personally am a huge Santiago fan and I believe he should be their everyday 2nd basemen. Only problem is Jimmy Smokes doesn’t always give Ramon the benefit of the doubt.
9. Ryan Raburn – LF
1. Justin Verlander: I thought about not even putting a description here because there is so much to say. His MVP season last year was crazy. People don’t think he can repeat it, but I wouldn’t doubt him. JV is constantly working on getting better and at 29, he’s just hitting the peak of his career. With more run support this season, I expect Verlander to win right about 20-25 games again. Extra runs scored will allow Verlander’s ERA rise a little bit, and I’ll easily take the tradeoff as long as he wins.
2. Doug Fister
3. Max Scherzer – Last year was a little shaky for Scherzer. You never knew what to expect out of him. He’s got the stuff to be ace of a staff, but his inconsistency really needs to be fixed. If Max can figure it out and put everything together this season, this team will be unstoppable. Fun fact: Max Scherzer has two different colored eyes. Go check it out.
4. Rick Porcello – Ricky P struggles with consistency just like Scherzer. He’s only 23 years old so he’s got a lot of time to grow, but now would be the perfect time. His sinker was quite effective in the playoffs and if he can carry that into the spring, Ricky P could potentially sniff 18 wins.
5. Drew Smyly - This spot is still up in the air, but after sending high prospect Jacob Turner and now Andy Oliver down to AAA, it’s down to these 2 guys and Smyly seems at the top. It is between him and Duane Below now. Both are young lefties and could potentially be sleepers.
Jose Valverde – Although each outing had its own scare, Papa Grande converted all 49 of his chances. You can’t expect him to do that again by any means, but he will be their closer no matter what. Joaquin Benoit has some dirty pitches, but he will be the setup man. I can’t wait to see Valverde’s antics after his first save of the season.
Most Overrated Fantasy Player
Doug Fister - I am by no means saying that Fister is overrated. I actually think he is quite underrated as an overall pitcher for this staff, but fantasy wise, people are going a little too crazy. Fister’s numbers were absolutely ridiculous once he came over from Seattle and no way he can repeat them. If he does for an entire season, he should be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Fister is another sinkerballer, and he lives off his defense behind him. That may be a little bit of an issue with two very large men on the corners. Miguel and Prince will get the job done, but aren’t the most agile by any means. I definitely think that Fister will have an outstanding season and could win 20 games, but I don’t see his ERA being the same at all.
Most Underrated Fantasy Player
Ryan Raburn – Raburn is a notorious slow starter, but this year has been different. So far this spring training, he has hit 6 bombs in 37 at-bats. He ended the playoffs on an absolute tear and if he can continue this hot streak, seriously watch out for him. He is 2B and OF eligible too which makes him even more valuable.
Brennan Boesch – Brennan did quite well in his second season up with the Tigers, but injury forced him to miss the end of the season and the entire postseason. His thumb is now fully healthy, and hitting in front of Prince and Miggy, Boesch will see a lot of pitches to hit. If he can hit his normal average of about .280, he will be able to score a ton of runs. I see him scoring about 100 runs this year and hitting about 20-25 bombs. He should easily be drafted in the middle rounds of any league.