The Detroit Tigers are the clear favorites to win the American League Central division and are even the favorites to represent the American League in the World Series in 2014. There will be plenty of factors that contribute to their success, but the main factors that will lead to another postseason berth include the following.
1. The Starting Rotation
The Tigers starting rotation is one of the best in the game, if not the best. Led by All-Star pitcher Justin Verlander and last year’s Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer, the Tigers have the best starting duo pitchers in game. Even pitcher Anibal Sanchez could easily be an Ace pitcher for a lot of teams in the MLB. With a bullpen that is the Achilles heel for the Tigers, the starting pitching will not only have to be dominate, but they will have to put in extra innings in order to not have to call to the struggling bullpen so much, which they are more than capable of doing.
The Tigers have now become a team where they understand they are going to have to improve on their base running and realize that their barrage of power hitters is scarce. Losing Prince Fielder in exchange for second baseman Ian Kinsler was a big blow to the power of the lineup, even losing shortstop Jhonny Peralta took away some of the pop as well. The Tigers have countered the loss of power with the addition of speed. By adding speed to the lineup in the form of Kinsler and adding former Toronto Blue Jay Rajai Davis to go along with center fielder Austin Jackson who already has some speed of his own, look for the Tigers to have a dramatic increase in stolen bases in 2014.
In order to get all these base runners across home plate that Detroit is going to put on base, they will need a hitter who has the ability to find a way to bring them home. First baseman and Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera is the man for the job. In order to do that though, Cabrera will have to remain healthy as he is Detroit’s biggest asset.
In 2013, Cabrera dealt with many injuries that held him back from his full potential, which is scary for other MLB teams to see. Cabrera was able to put up almost identical numbers compared to his Triple Crown winning year in 2012. After winning back-to-back MVP titles, Cabrera has sure proved why he is worthy of the award.
Cabrera is the only true offensive firepower that the Tigers bring to the table being because well; he is the best hitter in the game. But with the pressure being put on Cabrera to have another MVP type season, look for the first baseman to respond to the pressure well.
For the Tigers, anything less than a World Series title will be looked at as a disappointing season. But getting to the playoffs should be no problem.