The Detroit Free Press columnists made their predictions today, take a look. You can read THB’s official AL Central Preview here.
Why? 1) The bottom half of the batting order, 2) the back end of the rotation, 3) the middle relievers. You tell me you’ve got those problems licked, I’ll tell you the Tigers are in the playoffs for sure. Otherwise, some young talent is going to have to do some mature things — fast.
Why? Carlos Guillen might be the team’s key player. If he can produce as he’s capable in the fifth spot, teams won’t be able to pitch around cleanup man Miguel Cabrera, who might be ready for his biggest year in a career full of them. If Cabrera and the switch-hitting Guillen keep driving in runs, the Tigers could have enough offense. Pitching is important but not everything — Seattle and the White Sox allowed the fewest runs in the American League last season, but they didn’t make the playoffs because they had two of the league’s worst offenses.
Why? The Tigers have talent and the division is weak. But this team needs way too much to go right for my liking. The back end of their rotation is a potential disaster. They are starting two rookies: second baseman Scott Sizemore and centerfielder Austin Jackson, and while both are highly regarded prospects, neither is regarded as can’t-miss. And too many of the big names are nearing the end of their careers. After getting outscored last year but still almost winning the division, the Tigers will be hard-pressed to squeak out so many close victories.
Why? The Tigers should contend because they should pitch well. The difference between winning the American League Central and another disappointing close finish is whether they can get a combined 150 RBIs from Magglio Ordoñez and Carlos Guillen. If they do that, it means both are healthy and also that the rookie Austin Jackson and the rusty Johnny Damon are doing their jobs of regularly getting on base. Despite losing closer Joe Nathan for the season, Minnesota remains the favorite in the Central.