Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 3/15/13
After assembling an All-Star roster going into the 2012 season, everyone expected Detroit to just kick the crap out of the American League. They eventually did that once the calendar turned to September and moved into October, but you have to keep in mind that the Tigers were as much as three games back on September 18th, with 15 games to play. I'm sure Jim Leyland's club doesn't want to have to get into a dogfight come September again to just make the playoffs. Tigers on TOC End of Season Postmortem 2013 Season Preview You May Say I'm a Dreamer (12:00 PM) 2013 Burning Question (1:30 PM) This Is My Nightmare (3:00 PM) 2013 X-Factor (4:30 PM) Depth Chart (as of 3/15) C: Alex Avila 1B: Prince Fielder 2B: Omar Infante SS: Jhonny Peralta 3B: Miguel Cabrera LF: Andy Dirks CF: Austin Jackson RF: Torii Hunter DH: Victor Martinez SP: Justin Verlander SP: Doug Fister SP: Max Scherzer SP: Anibal Sanchez SP: Rick Porcello CL: Bruce Rondon New Faces The only real new face in Detroit is Torii Hunter, who the team inked to a two-year deal quickly after free agency began to fill a glaring hole in right field. Victor Martinez missed all of 2012 after tearing his ACL, but will be back and healthy for the 2013 season. The Tigers also have a new backup catcher in Brayan Pena, replacing long-time Tiger Gerald Laird, who signed with the Braves this winter.  Departures The Tigers didn't lose much this winter. Laird left to sign with the Braves, and the team gave Delmon Young a nice fruit basket when he signed with the Phillies. Closer Jose Valverde wasn't re-signed and still needs a job, and reliever Daniel Schlereth was nontendered and signed a minor league deal with the Orioles. Also, backup outfielder Brennan Boesch was released this week, but after the Tigers already had gone to arbitration with him, essentially flushing some money down the toilet (not that the Tigers need to worry about that). Impact Rookies Bruce Rondon, come on down. The Tigers appear to be going all in with Rondon as their closer despite a bit of a shaky spring and less than 30 innings thrown above high-A during his career. Gulp. Avisail Garcia had a nice impact on Detroit during their stretch run last season, and could battle for a bench spot. Top prospect Nick Castellanos appears primed to grab a starting role in the majors if an injury opens up a job for him, and an injury in the rotation could open up a spot for Casey Crosby (though he's likely also behind Drew Smyly on the depth chart). Position Battles Rule 5 pick Jeff Kobernus will be given every opportunity to win a spot on Detroit's Opening Day roster, but is finding competition from Garcia and maybe even Don Kelly. There's also the question of whether or not Rondon is the best option for the closer's job, but if they don't outright hand the job to Rondon, the Tigers will likely just employ a committee at the back end of games instead of anointing another reliever as the capital C closer. Injury Concerns The Tigers are a very healthy team aside from Martinez's knee, but considering he won't be catching much (if at all) in 2013, it's less of a concern than if he were an every day backstop. That's really all that's going on with Detroit's MASH report. Burning Question Just what are the Tigers going to do with their closer's job if Rondon doesn't grab the bull by the horns? Best Case A World Championship for the Tigers sure would be sweet, especially with the incredible roster that GM Dave Dombrowski has put together. With Justin Verlander's free agency looming (cue Tigers fans vomiting), a title for Detroit would be the absolute best case scenario, and it's a realistic one too. Worst Case If any of the Tigers core players get injured (like Martinez did last season), you could see a repeat of 2012 in terms of early season struggles. Detroit can't exactly slog through the season like they did last year after the White Sox stood pat from last year's great team and the Indians and Royals both made substantial improvements. Realistic Prediction This is the best team in the division, and I'd feel pretty confident in saying they're going to finish first. But the games are played because crazy things can happen. I'll be shocked if the Tigers *aren't* a playoff team this season, and they've got the talent to go all the way. [follow]

This article first appeared on The Outside Corner and was syndicated with permission.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Some coaches expect Tom Brady to 'dramatically age’ in 2017

Cavs reportedly wanted to sign Rose before Irving trade request

Report: Whitehead changed his story to Cowboys multiple times

Report: Novak Djokovic could miss rest of season with elbow injury

Reggie Jackson praises, urges caution with Aaron Judge

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Panthers QB Cam Newton shows up to camp in best shape of career

Yankees progressing on deal to acquire Sonny Gray, Yonder Alonso

Report: Derrick Rose was unwilling to accept bench role with Lakers

Stephen Strasburg expected to make next start for Nats

John Lackey makes history, hits four batters in one game

Report: Suns G Brandon Knight suffers torn ACL

The 'Kyrie revolts against the King' quiz

Every MLB team's best and worst deadline trade from the last 25 years

The most memorable moments from the class of 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame inductees

BIG3 Ref Hotline Bling: James White slams the phone down

28 MLB trade deadline deal prospects since 2000 who went on to become All-Stars

Box Score 7/25: The pressure of the trade deadline is here

The 'When George Brett went completely batty' quiz

Finding the possible Achilles' heel for baseball’s best teams

Getaway Day: A pair of aces get lost in the shuffle

Sports & Politics Intersect: Trump casts shadow over U.S. Women's Open

Best of Yardbarker: General managers take the spotlight

The 'Pay that man his money' quiz

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 'Kyrie revolts against the King' quiz

BIG3 Ref Hotline Bling: James White slams the phone down

The 'When George Brett went completely batty' quiz

Finding the possible Achilles' heel for baseball’s best teams

Getaway Day: A pair of aces get lost in the shuffle

Sports & Politics Intersect: Trump casts shadow over U.S. Women's Open

The National League Wild Card is suddenly relevant again

The 'Pay that man his money' quiz

BIG3 Week 5: Pivotal make-or-break weekend in Chicago

The 'Let's show a little love for James Jones' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker