Mar 26, 2014; Clearwater, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) laughs in the second inning against the Philadelphia Phillies in a spring training exhibition game at Bright House Field. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports
Opening Day is a few days away, and I’ve been taking a look at each of the teams in the AL Central. You can read about the White Sox here. Next up: Detroit Tigers.
2013 Record: 93-69
Standing: 1st, AL Central
Playoff Performance: Lost in six games in the ALCS to the Red Sox.
Miguel Cabrera, 1B (Extension)
Feb 28, 2014; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus (7) looks on against the New York Yankees at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Tigers, after making it to the World Series in 2012, were close to defending their American League crown once again in 2013. Now with a new manager in Brad Ausmus, the front office took care of business to improve their club. While losing Prince Fielder, adding Kinsler will be a nice piece to their offense. Rajai Davis gives the team added speed alongside fellow outfielder Austin Jackson. Joe Nathan fills a void in the closer’s role after two successful seasons in Texas. Miguel Cabrera, MVP of the last two seasons, fills in the middle of the lineup of the potentially the American League’s best all-around team. The rotation is also one of the best in baseball, featuring Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez at the top.
Who to watch for:
Scherzer won the American League CY Young last year, posting magnificent numbers with a 2.90 ERA and 240 strikeouts in 214.1 IP. He finished with a win-loss record of 21-3. It is really remarkable. Look for him to be right back in the CY Young mix for 2014.
After winning the MVP two seasons in a row, the Tigers rewarded Cabrera with a 10-year, 300 million dollar extension. He has certainly proved his worth over his past three seasons, in which he has a .341 avg, 118 HR, 381 RBI and a 1.036 OPS.
Mar 11, 2014; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joe Nathan (36) throws a pitch during the sixth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Former Twin Joe Nathan comes into Detroit’s bullpen with a lot of responsibility to be able to shut the door in the 9th inning. The Tigers have struggled with the backend of their bullpen, and hope that Nathan is the answer. It will be exciting to have Joe back in the AL Central.
Kinsler comes to Detroit after being traded from Texas in exchange for Prince Fielder. Kinsler, who is as competitive as they get, has always been fun to watch and can be a major power and speed threat. In his first year, he will be exciting to watch.
One of baseball’s best personalities, he makes this list as a former Twin. Hunter has posted nice numbers for his ripe baseball age the past two years. Last season, he finished with a line of .304/.334/.465. He will be 39 in July, can he sustain his success?
Can the Twins beat them?
I’ll go ahead and say in the game of baseball, any team can beat another team on any given day. However, the Tigers, with their loaded lineup and rotation, should be able to win the season series against the Twins. Hopefully, Minnesota will have a fair share of wins as well.
2014 Predicted Finish: 1st Place, AL Central