Detroit Tigers – Predicted Finish: First Place, AL Central
There’s only one way the Tigers can improve on their 2012 result, and it’s hard to imagine Jim Leyland and every member of that team having their goal as anything less than a World Series Championship.
Fortunately for the Tigers and their fans, their primary players are all back in Motown and the team should be set up to make another deep October run. At least at the top of the order, this is one of the best lineups in all of baseball. Let’s see who might carry the load this year for the defending American League champions.
Crackerjack Fantasy Options: Jackson through Martinez will all be good fantasy players in 2013. I like Infante as a player in leagues that count strikeouts against, but unless he can crack into the Top-5 of the order, he’s not a good enough statistical player for fantasy baseball, even at second base. The bottom part of this order just won’t hit well enough for him to score many runs. Peralta’s numbers have been too inconsistent, so he’s not a guy to bank on until you see what he’s done. Dirks and Avila are nothing more than the left-handed side of a platoon.
|1 Starter||Justin Verlander||30||R||240||61||20||242||0||2.59||1.10|
|2 Starter||Doug Fister||29||R||200||45||15||165||0||3.42||1.17|
|3 Starter||Max Scherzer||28||R||190||63||15||205||0||3.65||1.24|
|4 Starter||Anibal Sanchez||29||R||194||50||12||160||0||3.94||1.28|
|5 Starter*||Drew Smyly||24||L||150||55||11||135||0||4.38||1.30|
|5 Starter*||Rick Porcello||24||R||178||45||9||114||0||4.45||1.38|
Crackerjack Fantasy Options: First off, I included both Porcello and Smyly as though they’ll both pitch a full season in Detroit. With that being said, unless someone gets hurt, I fully expect that one of those two will be dealt by Opening Day.
In this era of pitching, there is one pitcher in all of baseball that I am willing to predict will win 20 games, and that’s Verlander. I’m a big fan of Fister and Scherzer really turned a corner. I like Smyly in spots (he’s young, so don’t go too crazy) and you can see my thoughts on Sanchez below.
As for Coke, he’s got the best arm in the bullpen, but has never been a true closer before and had a WHIP of 1.648 in 2012, so he’s far from a lock down guy. I would be very careful about rostering him, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Tigers look to add someone.
Fantasy Star: Cabrera
When a team has the reigning Triple Crown winner on it, it’s hard for anyone to supplant him as the team’s star. Fielder and Verlander are both elite, but neither carry the fantasy value of Miggy.
Fantasy Bust: Sanchez
I generally like the look of this team, but I’d caution you against going too aggressively towards Sanchez. He hasn’t had a WHIP under 1.25 since 2006. While he’s not a slouch in the strikeout department, he doesn’t K enough hitters to make up for what will be a poor WHIP.
Also, although he’s made at least 31 starts in each of the last three seasons, injuries are a part of his past.
Fantasy Sleepers: Martinez
Martinez fits in the sleeper category because missing a full year, it would be surprising if he didn’t get overlooked on draft day. But that’s not a huge concern. He has a career .303 batting average and should have plenty of men on base with the thunder in front of him in the order. That will translate to an abundance of RBI.
Plus, while he missed all of 2012, he’ll maintain catcher eligibility for 2013 and won’t play much catcher. So, he’ll have eligibility at a weak position without going through the strain of playing catcher. It’s a win-win to me.
I’d also point out Jackson. I don’t know if he’s a true “sleeper” but it’s easy to overlook him with so many great fantasy outfielders. There isn’t one category where I’d call Jackson fantastic, but I don’t see any real weaknesses there.
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