Detroit Tigers Last Year: 74-88 Last in AL Central This Year: 4th in AL Central
The Tigers went into 2008 with great expectations. There was talk of scoring 1000 runs and cruising to an World Series title. I for one was swept up in the hype. Then they had to start without sparkplug Granderson, Miguel Cabrera got off to a slow start, Sheffield and Pudge aged very quickly, Willis devolved into a AA pitcher, and Verlander and Bonderman were a disappointment. They got off to a brutal start and it all unraveled from there. While no one is predicting a World Series for the Tigers, there are a lot of people who were burned last year that are underrating this current edition.
Rotation RHP Justin Verlander 13-13 3.79 ERA 174 K RHP Armando Galarraga 14-9 3.43 ERA 139 K RHP Jeremy Bonderman 11-13 4.14 ERA 187 K RHP Edwin Jackson 9-12 4.73 ERA 118 K LHP Nate Robertson 7-13 5.13 ERA 123 K
CP RHP Brandon Lyon 4.46 ERA 28 SV 49 K
Best Case Scenario: Verlander and Bonderman stay healthy and become All-Star aces. Cabrera wins the MVP and competes for the Triple Crown. Granderson burns holes in the basepaths all year. Lyon and Zumaya hold up the back-end of the bullpen. Sheffield, Ordonez, and Guillen stave off old age and retirement for one more year. The team finishes with around 90 wins and 2nd in Central.
Worst Case Scenario: Verlander and Bonderman can't get the ERA under 4.00. Zumaya pitches 5-10 innings this year. Polanco, Guillen, Ordonez and Guillen become completely irrelevant and get released. This team unloads parts for anyone who will take them. Cabrera and Granderson struggle. This team once again battles Kansas City for 4th place in the division.
Player Most Important to Success: Magglio Ordonez. This lineup is old with the exception of Cabrera and Granderson. Guillen is 33, Polanco is 33, Sheffield is 40, Everett is 32 and even Inge is 31. Out of all of them Ordonez is the one who can still contribute the most. He is 35 but still is a solid hitter. He went .317-21-103 last year. If he can equal that production it would greatly help the lineup. Not only would he be able to produce runs it will protect Miguel Cabrera and not let them just pitch around him.
Outlook: Any team with Adam Everett placed on the opening day lineup has issues. This team is full of players in the twilight of their career. However, they also have a few players in the prime of their career. Much was made of Miguel Cabrera's huge contract and early struggles but it went unnoticed that he ended up .292-37-127. He is a huge talent and is still only 26. Granderson is 28, Galarraga is 27, and Jackson is 25. Also despite seeming to be around for ever Verlander and Bonderman are only 26. This team still has young and big talent, the problem is that is not surrounded by a likewise supporting cast. This team can still score runs and has pitchers with ability but they have too many issues that were not addressed during the offseason and if they get off to another slow start I would look for a fire sale to happen.