The whole baseball world was shocked when the Detroit Tigers signed Prince Fielder a week after Victor Martinez went down with an ACL injury during conditioning. That does not bode well for the career of an already banged up 33-year-old catcher down the road. That is a major injury that he is going to have trouble coming back from. Enough about the depressing stuff — how about this title contending team? They may not shape up as the best defensive team out there, so they say, but they are going to have one of the best offenses in the league. Here is an outlook of the Tigers in 2012.
In “30 Teams in 30 Days,” the Fantasy Baseball Cafe will preview each team in Major League Baseball on a daily basis. In addition to projecting starting lineups, rotations and closing situations, the Cafe will identify potential targets for 2012 fantasy baseball drafts.
|C Alex Avila||.295||.389||.506||63||19||82||3||464|
|1B Prince Fielder||.299||.415||.566||95||38||120||1||569||w/MIL|
|2B Ryan Raburn||.256||.297||.432||53||14||49||1||387|
|3B Miguel Cabrera||.344||.448||.586||111||30||105||2||572|
|SS Jhonny Peralta||.299||.345||.478||68||21||86||0||525|
|LF Don Kelly||.245||.291||.381||35||7||28||2||257|
|CF Austin Jackson||.249||.317||.374||90||10||45||22||591|
|RF Brennan Boesch||.283||.341||.458||75||16||54||5||428|
|DH Delmon Young||.268||.302||.393||54||12||64||1||473||w/2T|
Unsettled: Designated hitter and third base. It is unclear what skipper Jim Leyland will do with that DH spot. He will most likely platoon Kelly, Andy Dirks and Young in LF and give Young most of the time at DH. Delmon is not the best outfielder, so giving him more ABs and less fielding chances may be the best option. Leyland could also insert long time veteran Brandon Inge at 3B and let Cabrera DH for a while if he has some nagging injuries. Leyland is committed to having Cabrera play 3B and states, “He has a terrific arm and great athletic ability.” Rumors have it that Cabrera has already lost close to twenty pounds during conditioning for his new position.
Target: Besides the two big men, Austin Jackson. It is his third year in The Show and it is time for him to make major adjustments. He has held the leadoff spot ever since he came to Detroit, but Leyland has thought about taking him out of that spot to take pressure off him. He should have a much better season this year. His K% may be at a Mark Reynolds height, but his speed makes up for it. If he can get on base, he is a guy that can steal 30-plus bags. Comerica Park yields lots of triples in that right-center field.
|Justin Verlander (R)||24-5||2.40||0.92||250||57||251.0|
|Doug Fister (R)||11-13||2.83||1.06||146||37||216.1||w/2T|
|Max Scherzer (R)||15-9||4.43||1.35||174||56||195.0|
|Rick Porcello (R)||14-9||4.75||1.41||104||46||182.0|
|Jacob Turner (R)||4-5||3.44||1.16||110||35||131.0||in MiLB|
Unsettled: Jacob Turner is the Tigers top pitching prospect, but it is unclear if he will be the fifth starter going into 2012. He will pitch in the spring to show he is ready for the Major Leagues. If he doesn’t become that fifth starter, it is not known who the Tigers will put in that rotation spot. Turner is only 20, remind you, and he surely has the arsenal to strike batters out, but is he ready?
Target: Justin Verlander. Come on, the AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner last year, how could this guy not be ranked as the top pitcher? Yet Doc Halladay is still above him on most lists. I think Verlander proved last year that he is the top threat in the Majors. His curveball is absolute magic. When he can reach 99-100 mph with his fastball, and then throw a wicked curveball to freeze the hitters … that is why he reached 250 strikeouts last year and had a WHIP under 1.00! I think he will come close to repeating those type of stats again this year. The only thing that worries me is his innings. He has thrown under 200 innings once in his career, that was when he as a rookie, and still threw 186 innings. It adds up.
The 8th and 9th Innings
|Jose Valverde (R)||49||2.24||1.19||69||34||72.1|
|Joaquin Benoit (R)||2||2.95||1.05||63||17||61.0|
Chasing Saves: Jose Valverde was a perfect 49 for 49 last year, and frankly, it was pretty lucky. I am not doubting his pitching ability, but he loves to put guys on base. He is a very emotional player, which I love in any ball player, but he must keep it in check. Valverde can sometimes get himself into trouble with his split finger fastball. If that ball has trouble finding the strike zone, he ends up putting guys on base. Benoit had an excellent season; after a shaky April and May, he was lights out. When the Tigers got to the 8th and 9th innings with a lead, they were pretty confident these two would lock down the win. I think it will happen again throughout this year.
The Tigers should win the AL Central without a doubt. Cleveland might give them a little hassle like they did last season, but the Tigers prevailed then and they’ll do the same in 2012. By adding a huge bat in Prince Fielder, their offense (along with their payroll) is up to Yankee status. They might not have the best defense, but they are going to outscore their opponents in many games. It is going to be a great season for them, and they should be the favorites to come out of the AL as champs. I wish them the best of luck.
Check back tomorrow for our look at the Royals.
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