Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 3/21/12

The Tigers won the AL Central last season after the Cleveland Indians decided that they were sick of first place in May, and started to fall apart. The Tigers machine steadily rolled on, and they advanced to the ALCS, where they were defeated by the Texas Rangers. The team was led by AL Cy Young and MVP award winner Justin Verlander, who had a rather dominant season. With the addition of Prince Fielder to a Tigers lineup that includes Miguel Cabrera, this is clearly the best team in the division.

Tigers on TOC
End of Season Postmortem
Top Ten Prospects
You May Say I'm a Dreamer 

Depth Chart (as of 3/21)
C: Alex Avila
1B: Prince Fielder
2B: Ryan Raburn
SS: Jhonny Peralta
3B: Miguel Cabrera
LF: Andy Dirks
CF: Austin Jackson
RF: Brennan Boesch
DH: Delmon Young
SP: Justin Verlander
SP: Doug Fister
SP: Max Scherzer
SP: Rick Porcello
SP: Andy Oliver
CL: Jose Valverde

New Faces
Hello, Prince Fielder. The Tigers swooped in at the last minute to sign the highly-coveted first baseman to a massive contract. Despite the quizzical decisions to start him at first and move Miguel Cabrera to third, he will at least deliver with the bat. The team didn't do much else aside from Fielder, acquiring Colin Balester from the Nationals and signing reliever Octavio Dotel.

Again, not much here that will hurt the Tigers. Former infielder Carlos Guillen signed with the Mariners, and promptly retired. Utilityman Wilson Betemit signed with the Orioles. Will Rhymes went to Tampa Bay. Reliever Ryan Perry was dealt to Washington. Outfielder Magglio Ordonez is (still) a free agent.

Impact Rookies
The Tigers aren't really going to play around with rookies this year, but keep an eye on starters Andy Oliver and Jacob Turner in their rotation. Oliver is the number five guy right now, and should capably fill that role. Turner has a much higher ceiling than Oliver, but isn't ready yet. Also, reliever Brayan Villarreal looks like he'll be in the Opening Day bullpen for Detroit.

Position Battles
Ramon Santiago was expected to push Ryan Raburn for playing time at second base, but a monster spring from Raburn has seemingly sent Santiago to the bench for good. That's really about all right now.

Injury Concerns
The aforementioned Turner has had some shoulder soreness, and has been shut down. Not a good sign. Miguel Cabrera took a ground ball off of his face this week, and after a minor facial fracture, his Opening Day status is up in the air. DH Victor Martinez tore his ACL over the winter, and will miss the season. Reliever Al Alburquerque had elbow surgery, and will likely miss half the season. Not a good start for the Tigers so far.

Burning Question
Is Detroit's offense going to be the best in the American League this year?

Best Case
The Tigers hit like a gang of studs, score 900 runs, allow maybe 700, and coast to the best record in the American League.

Worst Case
It would take a lot for the Tigers not to win the AL Central, but if they don't, it would require a major injury to Cabrera, Fielder, or Verlander. Hell, maybe two of the three.

Realistic Prediction
If the Tigers don't win the AL Central, it would be a massive surprise. Expect them to absolutely roll to a division title this year.


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