After looking at the Giants season preview on Friday, it’s time to turn our attention to the team that came out on the wrong end of last year’s World Series. The Detroit Tigers look to be well-stocked for another run at the AL Championship and ultimately a deep run in October.
Let’s examine the upcoming season for Detroit in our ongoing Starting 9 series (archive here). We’ve tapped into the knowledge and insight of the Fansided network editors for each team, and today we’re privileged to be joined by Matt Snyder the Senior Editor for the Fansided Tigers’ site, Motor City Bengals.
Here’s his take on the Tigers this season:
1. Did your team do a good job this offseason?
2. Who is the key player to your team’s success this year?
The obvious choices are Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera, but taking them for granted I’d go with Victor Martinez. He missed all of 2012 with a knee injury so the Tigers and their fans had to suffer through a season of Delmon Young at the DH spot. Martinez will be hitting 5th behind Cabrera and Prince Fielder, so he should see plenty of RBI opportunities. He’s a great fantasy option due to his catcher eligibility.
3. Who is a position player many people may not know about who is going to have a breakout season?
I don’t think Detroit has many under-the-radar players, but a good bounce-back candidate is Alex Avila. He hit a lot of ground balls last year which cut into his power numbers, but he’ll be dropped in the lineup to eighth where he can relax and just swing the bat. If the fly balls return, so will the home runs.
4. What starting pitcher is going to have a surprisingly good season?
Rick Porcello hasn’t been a good fantasy option due to his low strikeout rate, but he’s adjusted his pitching repertoire this spring and has received positive results thus far. He scrapped the slider which got pounded all too often last season and added back a curveball. The curve appears to give his arsenal a different feel and provides a larger contrast to his power sinker (now 92-94 mph instead of 89-91 mph where it was a couple of years ago) and the result has been more swings-and-misses this spring.
5. How does your team’s bullpen look going into this coming year especially at the closer position?
The closer position is probably the one big question mark on the team. The club hoped that rookie Bruce Rondon could jump in and do the job, but he’s struggled mightily in the early going. If he’s not ready for the gig, they’ll turn to Phil Coke, Joaquin Benoin, Octavio Dotel, Al Alburquerque, or any combination of the above. Coke probably gets the first shot to be “the guy” if Rondon doesn’t make the team.
6. Who do you think is the most “over-rated” player on your team?
I think a lot of people in Detroit are expecting Andy Dirks to repeat his rather good 2012 campaign while locking down the everyday left field position, but I don’t think it’s a guarantee that he’ll be as reliable as he was a season ago. He’s still only about 600 plate appearances into his MLB career, so the jury is still out on what type of player he’ll be. Perhaps I don’t really think he’s “over-rated” so much as his assumed level of production seems to be taken for granted.
- 7. Are there any rookies that will impact the team from the beginning of the season or as a midseason call-up?
Rondon could make a big impact if he can right the ship and win the closer job, but other than that outfielder Avisail Garcia could see action as a mid-season call-up. Garcia was impressive in his debut last season, but it was clear that he needs to work on his approach at the plate against advanced pitching in the minors before he’s ready for the show. It looked like he was simply trying to make contact last September in the big leagues.
8. What would be considered a successful season for your team?
9. What exciting things do you have coming up on your site this season?
We do a pretty good job of keeping our readers up-to-date on the happenings of the Tigers’ minor league system, and we like to approach our analysis with a statistical mindset. If you’re a numbers nerd, you’ll probably like Motor City Bengals.
Special thanks again to Matt from Motor City Bengals for helping us with his insight on the Tigers. If you’re a Tigers fan, make sure to add the their posts to your daily emails, or if you’re already getting their news make sure you’ve added FantasyCPR in the extras section.
Come back throughout the rest of spring training for more fantasy baseball previews from the baseball writers across the FanSided network.