It was 10 years ago that the Tigers went 43 and 119 for a .265 winning percentage. In the modern era (since 1969), it is the worst team in baseball history. Oddly enough, Omar Infante was a part of that wretched 2003 team and rejoins the team after last years trade with the Marlins. Now it is 2013 and the Tigers are still the worst in baseball… well, at least they have the worst farm system. The rest of the team is pretty good and they should easily win the AL central. But that is likely where the Tigers winning ends.
The reigning AL champions improved themselves with a reliable right field option in Torii Hunter. The 37 year old will turn 38 this year. There is no way that Hunter recreates what he did last year at 5.3 wins. But batting behind the very talented Austin Jackson and in front of triple crown winner Miguel Cabrera, Hunter should at least provide a professional at bat and upgraded defense in right field. I have a feeling Comerica will soften his numbers somewhat and his .389 BABIP is simply unsustainable. He almost matched his career low walk rate last year and had a career high K rate. Even though his season last year was very good, at his age, it just simply is unsustainable going forward and I expect a huge drop off offensively.
Prince Fielder, Justin Verlander, and Miguel Cabrera are known entities similar to Adrian Gonzalez, Clayton Kershaw, and Matt Kemp in LA. The difference between these two teams is the secondary contributors. Hanley, Ethier, Greinke, the bullpen, and hopefully Carl Crawford will make the Dodgers better than Jackson, Hunter, Scherzer, and Martinez. I know Rondon is set to be the closer, but has anyone really taken a look at his walk percentage. And he has NEVER pitched in the majors!
In a 7 game series, how could the Tigers possibly beat the Dodgers? What holes do the Dodgers present that the Tigers should take advantage of? Mark Ellis can’t hit righties. Don Mattingly will likely have Ellis batting lead-off or second, even against righties. The Dodgers have 4 legitimate strike out candidates, A.J. Ellis, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Hanley Ramirez. Verlander and Scherzer are going to have to get their strikeouts. And I suppose that they will. Max Scherzer had a fantastic second half last year and there is no doubt that he has turned a corner. Hanley Ramirez is a poor defender, and there aren’t any viable options to back him up that can come in and play solid defense. Kemp and Ethier both have skeptical defense, so I guess that’s one way to try and beat LA.
In truth, the bullpen is too deep, the lineup is too clutch, the offense is too potent, and the rotation is too stacked for Detroit. The one thing I enjoy about the Tigers rotation is the youth. All of them are under 30! In my opinion, youth is the key to health. Youth just isn’t enough to beat LA.