The Detroit Tigers were the American League champions last year and can repeat this year with their starting pitching and offense. The only thing that can hold them back is their bullpen.
Their starting rotation is the deepest in the league and the top four could easily be starters on other teams. On Friday, Justin Verlander signed a huge new contract with the Tigers for seven years, $180 million. If he opts for the eight year it will be worth $202 million. He is the best pitcher in baseball and last year went 17-8 with a 2.64 ERA. Max Scherzer led MLB in strikeouts and ended the season 15-4, 3.14 ERA. Doug Fister is a great #3 considering last year he was 10-10, 3.48 ERA. Anibal Sanchez will be #4 and he went 15-4 in 2012. On March 26 the Tigers announced Rick Porcello will get the fifth spot.
But that is where their pitching ends. Jose Valverde was their top closer, but after his disastrous Game 1 of the ALCS the Tigers knew they had to move on. He left the team, leaving the Tigers with a huge gap. They thought they had a closer in Bruce Rondon, but on March 28 they sent him to the minors. They still do not have a set closer for the season.
Most thought the Tigers offense couldn’t get better, but it did by adding the talented Torii Hunter. Victor Martinez will be back after sitting out 2012 from knee surgery. With those two back the Tigers could have six .300 hitters. Miguel Cabrera had a Triple Crown year and there is nothing obvious that makes one think he could not repeat his .330 and 139 RBIs. He has Prince Fielder protecting him and now that Martinez is behind Fielder, pitchers will really have to think about their pitches to Cabrera.
Austin Jackson will lead off and should not have a problem getting on base. Last year he scored 103 runs and hit .300. He led the team with 10 triples. He is a great person to have in front of Hunter and Cabrera and could easily pass 103 runs this year.
The Detroit Tigers should easily win the AL Central. A lot of pundits and writers think the Tampa Bay Rays will beat them in the playoffs, but if the Tigers can figure out their bullpen before July they can win the AL again and make the World Series again.