Taking a look around the AL one rival at a time. Part 1 of 15 First up- the reigning A. L. Champion Detroit Tigers.
Swept again. The Tigers made it all the way to the World Series in 2012. They were there in 2006, too.
World Series record this millenium for AL Central-
White Sox 4-0
The Tigers' only hole is that they don't have a "closer," according to Dave Cameron and his ESPN article, that I saw linked to on some random Tigers blog, Motor City Bengals. They certainly saw their pitching get knocked around in the World Series, so I get the concern.
Best name in baseball Contenders:
Elvis Andrus vs. Al Alburquerque
*Mere posers vs. All-Time Champion 'Stubby' Clapp, the Mayor of Memphis. I mean Stubby? And his real name is Dick? Dick Clapp, nick named 'Stubby'. Wow. That's so good they've been using it for generations- he is Stubby the third! Untouchable.
Back to the Tigers and their bullpen...
If I recall correctly, Al Alburquerque was concussed and missed some significant baseball time. Morneau didn't really come all the way back (yet?) from getting thumped in the head so there is cause for concern there, but his career line looks like the sort of workload you expect from a reliever over the course of a full season. He threw
56.2 IP with an ERA of 1.59 and a WHIP of 1.13. He's got 85 strikeouts, 37 walks, and his BAA sits at .140. So is he unhittable or incredibly lucky? REally, 37 walks is a ton of free passes in that little amount of work.
Bruce Rondon. He's the closer (in theory). He can hit 100, but he's a rookie. Seems like he has the stuff, though.
Joaquin Benoit was crushed in the second half last season with a 5.26 post-break ERA, even though he lowered his WHIP and kept his K/9 better than one per inning. Homers were the culprit, and Jim Leyland says he doesn't want him to close because he doesn't think he can work on consecutive days.
Our old friend Octavio Dotel is in the D. Still. That's worth noting, because he's the most-traveled reliever in league history. He can still get it done.
"I've been all over the place. I've been in every league. Every division, too: West, Central, East. National League – boom, boom, boom. American League – boom, boom, boom." -Octavio Dotel, wikipedia
So according to the 'offense is only as good as your bullpen', theory, the Tigers look good. But what about the actual hitters?
Projected Line up
Probable Lineup NO. PLAYER POS. 1. Austin Jackson CF 2. Torii Hunter RF 3. Miguel Cabrera 3B 4. Prince Fielder 1B 5. Victor Martinez DH 6. Andy Dirks LF 7. Jhonny Peralta SS 8. Alex Avila C 9. Omar Infante 2B
Those top 5 are going to be gone early in most fantasy leagues, and with good reason.
- Miguel Cabrera won the triple crown last season, so, you know, he's pretty good.
- Prince Fielder is gone in the first round, too. He's a constant masher.
- I think Torii Hunter has something left in the tank. Just a hunch, really.
- They finally get to see what they paid for from Victor Martinez. He brings a career OBP of .370.
- Austin Jackson gets on base at a similar clip, and it led to him scoring 103 times in 2012.
They're loaded. The Tigers can hit, catching the ball can be an adventure but they will score more than enough runs to make it an issue.
The rotation is probably the strongest part of the team. Most readers here already know them fairly well so I will just touch up on them, like the offense:
- Justin Verlander is a perennial Cy Young candidate. He's arguably the best in the business. He lead all of baseball with 239 strikeouts.
- Second in MLB was Max Scherzer with 231.Having the top 2 strikeout pitchers covers up a lot of defensive holes.
- Doug Fister won 16 games for them with a 3.45 ERA. He turned out much better than what I thought they were getting from Seattle. Have the Mariners ever 'won' a trade?
- Rick Porcello kept the ball on the ground to the tune of 205 groundouts over 175 innings.
- Anibal Sanchez rounds out the formidable five. He was mostly just OK, but they liked what they saw after the trade and gave him $80 million for five years.
This started out as a very wordy reply to a comment on the thread yesterday discussing the club from Motown, but it was fun looking a little closer so I think I will continue across the AL.