Tuesday 2 October 2012
Playoff Preview: Detroit Tigers
Someone finally stepped up and won the AL Central.
Turns out it was the team that everybody thought was going to win 134 games, and they clinched with two days left in the season, but heh. And really, this just goes to show us all how weak the AL Central is. Chicago was the only other respectable team in the division all year long, and this was actually a race until about a week ago.
The Tigers definitely have some star power: Cabrera is probably going to win the MVP (even though he shouldn't), Justin Verlander has a good shot at the AL Cy Young, and they've got Prince Fielder and Austin Jackson playing some strong roles as well. The big issue I have with this team is that, well, that's about it. Alex Avila and Jhonny Peralta are nice regulars, but offensively, this team isn't anything special behind the three bats that they have, and giving Delmon Young or Brennan Boesch a bunch of AB's is pretty well counter-productive to everything else they have going on.
This was my real issue with the Prince Fielder signing. Sure, he's a great player, putting up almost 5 WAR, but that $214MM could have been used to plug the four holes they had in the lineup at that time (and still have, to a degree).
Justin Verlander is obviously the ace of this staff, and he appears to have a rubber arm, throwing 238 innings so far this year, without really losing any effectiveness. I wouldn't worry about him moving forward. They've also gotten nice performances from Max Scherzer and Doug Fister, who both appear to still have some gas left in the tank. Neither are likely to hit a career high in innings pitched, even with a playoff stretch (Fister actually missed time with an injury this year), so I'm actually expecting some nice performances from these two as well, especially if they can be fully rested for the playoffs, since they don't need to worry about holding any division rivals at bay for their playoff berth.
This is one of those scary teams that can just jump up and bite you, despite only have 5 or 6 real quality major leaguers, as opposed to a team like Texas or New York, who are just deep all over. Guys like Cabrera and Fielder are certainly game-changers with the bats, so if either gets hot, especially if the pitching works out, it's a team that could surprise us and make a run.