Been reading a lot of stuff on the Detroit Tigers, after their big off-season where they picked up Cabrera, Willis, and Renteria. Most are labeling them the best offense in baseball, and I’ve heard predictions as high as 1100 runs.
Eh, not so fast Tiger fans. Let’s look at your lineup:
8. Jones / Thames
Granderson is terrific. Ordonez, Cabrera, and Guillen will all be great (or in Guillen’s case, at least solid). But after that? Polanco probably isn’t going to hit .341 again. And he doesn’t have much power. Sheffield could be decent, but he’s in decline (trust me, he was on my fantasy team- he fell apart in the second half). Renteria posted a nice .390 OBP in the JV league last year. But we already saw him try to play in the varsity (.335 OBP). And he also has limited power, so if he doesn’t get on base, he’s not too useful. Jones and Thames are both sub .300 OBP guys with occasional power. Not good for a premium offensive position, but wouldn’t be bad as a number 9 hitter. But that role goes to Pudge Rodriguez, he of a similar below .300 OBP but with almost no power.
A good offense? Certainly. But historically good? I doubt it. They’re not even projected to score as many runs as the Yankees. And while I am horrendously biased, I feel that more of the Yankee players will surpass their projections (but of course, I’m sure a lot of that is because I follow the Yankee beat and read all their “he’s in great shape” stories).
And as for Detroit’s pitching staff, they have a genuine ace in Verlander, and Bonderman definitely has a good arm but he is coming off an up and down season and is yet to really establish himself. Robertson is a solid option, though his numbers are rather average, because he’s reliable and consistent (not to mention, left-handed). Willis, while I’m sure he is a great “clubhouse guy” and “plays the game the right way,” got knocked around in the JV last season. Can he really handle being in the AL? Kenny Rogers is the 5th starter, and he barely played last season. What happens if he gets hurt? The Tigers traded away a lot of their depth. I still believe they should take a flyer on another starter for insurance- I’m surprised they let Colon go to Boston. He would have made some sense.
In the bullpen for the Tigers, Zumaya’s hurt and Todd Jones… well isn’t. I don’t have much more to say.
So while I agree the Tigers will certainly be a good team (if Sheffield does hit, the top-middle of the lineup will be downright scary, even with Polanco), I wouldn’t pencil them in for 100 wins quite yet.