Detroit Tigers: Do They Really Have a Top 10 Lineup?
Baseball sportswriter extraordinaire Buster Olney gave the Detroit Tigers a rather nice comment.
According to Olney, the foundational piece of the 2017 Tigers is Miguel Cabrera, which should come as no surprise.
Olney called Cabrera “a plodding right-handed hitter” (which appeared to be a compliment). He mentioned Cabrera’s career .321 batting average and his .399 on-base percentage. Cabrera reached a handful of milestones in 2016 and he will reach at least one more in 2017: 1,000 extra-base hits. The recently released videos of Cabrera’s workouts show that he is ready to play.
Questions about Big Hitters
While Cabrera looks to be a sure thing for 2017, Olney questioned a few other players and how long they will be with the team. Of course, those are the names that keep popping up: Ian Kinsler and J.D. Martinez. If those two men are traded away, the Tigers’ offensive numbers will certainly drop.
Lastly, Olney questioned the consistency of two important players and game-changers: Justin Upton and Nick Castellanos. Tigers’ fans know well that these two are streaky players. Castellanos hit his stride in the early part of 2016 only to struggle at the midway point prior to his injury. And, Upton hit his in the last third of the season. After discussing his pros and cons with the lineup, Olney described the Tigers: “this is a very deep, dangerous batting order.”
What about the Other Teams?
Tenth place out of 30 is not bad, but it’s not great. Olney put nine other teams in front of the Tigers. He put the Boston Red Sox at the top – even without David Ortiz. The rest of the top five include the Colorado Rockies, Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, and Seattle Mariners. Six through nine belong to the Cleveland Indians, Arizona Diamondbacks, Washington Nationals, and St. Louis Cardinals.
Where do the Tigers rank with the AL Teams?
Looking at Olney’s top 10 and the AL teams, the Tigers are only behind the Red Sox, Astros, Mariners, and Indians. Just like 2017, the prediction is that Tigers will be battling the Indians for the top spot in the AL Central and the latest addition in Cleveland could add trouble.
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The Indians did lose Mike Napoli and Rajai Davis, but they did add Edwin Encarnacion. Tigers’ fans might remember Encarnacion’s hat trick against the Tigers in 2015. But, his numbers against the veteran Tigers pitchers are in the Tigers’ favor. He has a .130 batting average against Justin Verlander and .250 against Anibal Sanchez.
The other three AL teams, especially the Red Sox, could create problems for the Tigers. But, without Big Papi and his 38 home runs and 127 RBIs, the Sox are a heavy right-handed team without THE power hitter. The 2017 Astros will look a lot like the 2016 Astros and the Tigers had their way with them, winning four of the six games they played. The Mariners have made a few changes, but Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano still remain.
The Tigers have big shoes to fill and the men on the team have the skills to do it. If the team can remain free of any major injuries, they could easily be in the top five in the AL (and possibly even first).
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