Key Additions—Prince Fielder
Key Losses——-Magglio Ordonez, Victor Martinez
Lineup—Obviously when you start talking about this lineup it starts with the acquisition of Prince Fielder. Putting him in the middle of this lineup along with Miguel Cabrera immediately gives the Tigers what I consider the best 1-2 punch in the league. I know there are a lot of questions marks about what they are going to do when Martinez returns from his injury, but I don’t think those are things that need to be worried about now; obviously the Tigers are trying to win this year. I do worry about them defensively. Along with those 2 Jhonny Peralta will provide you some offense, but is terrible defensively. Ryan Raburn rounds out the infield, and he is a good compliment to the corner guys. Alex Avila is a very good catcher, and provides a good hitter at that position. Their outfield is weak. Brennan Boesch has been predicted by many to take a step forward, but I don’t think he will be much better than he was last year. Austin Jackson is a stud defensively, but he is light hitting. But with that being said, with the 2 big boppers in the middle I do expect him to score 100 runs this year. Can Delmon Young produce enough to help out the big 2? That is yet to be determined. All in all because of how good Fielder and Cabrera is this team is going to score runs, but how much the lack of defense by this infield affects this team is to be determined. But at the end of the day, they upgraded, and this should make them better.
Pitching—Not only does this team have a stud at the top and very solid in the middle of the rotation, but they also have great depth. It all starts with Justin Verlander. It is hard to imagine him having a better year than what he had in 2011, but he will still put up very good numbers and lead this staff. Plus, with the runs they will score, he will once again put up a big win total. As you look down this staff, I really like where they stand 2-4. I loved the trade for Doug Fister last year, and expect him to put up some solid numbers. They have youngsters at the 3-4 spots in the rotation with Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello. I believe last year I was somewhat down on Porcello, but expect big things from him this year. I think he will put it together and provide quite a season for the Tigers. I also love the depth of this rotation, as any number of guys could step in at the 5 spot and product. I am especially excited to see what Jacob Turner can do if he can stay healthy. He has #1 stuff and upside. They picked up Jose Valverde’s option to provide stability in the back end of this bullpen. I also like the rest of this pen, as they have power arms and a good mix of lefties/righties. Plus, considering their starting pitching, they should not be overused. All in all, this is one of the best overall pitching staffs in the league.
Outlook—Although as I said I do worry about the defense of this team, and the overall balance of the lineup, they are not going to be touched for the division. They are just too good. They nearly won 100 games last year, and you could strongly argue they got quite a bit better with Fielder. I expect Jim Leyland to be setting up his rotation right around the time that Detroit kids go back to school at the end of August. And with their staff, this is a team that has to be in the first wave mentioned as teams that have the best shot at a World Series title.