Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Breaking down baseball: Detroit Tigers

This year, the Detroit Tigers continued their tradition of making big off-season moves in hopes of returning to the World Series. An influx of speed and a rejuvenated staff will help them at least contend with the Twins and the Sox in the AL Central.


The Tigers made two moves this off-season in an attempt to bring some much-needed speed into their lineup. Their first move was trading Curtis Granderson to the Yankees in exchange for Austin Jackson (among others).


While Granderson was arguably the Tigers’ best base stealer, the team is envisioning Jackson as their center fielder of the future. Jackson has never played in a major league game, but was the Yankees’ most prized offensive prospect for years. He has speed and developing power; the Tiger’s are hoping he will develop sooner rather than later.

After a long free agency, Johnny Damon signed a one-year deal with the Tigers. Even though his defense has slipped in recent years, Damon had arguably the best season of his career in 2009 offensively, hitting 24 home runs, driving in 82 RBIs, and batting .282 with 12 steals.

Damon will play left field and will likely DH as well, and his one-year contract means that once again he will be in a contract year and will be looking to get paid. Damon brings a veteran, winning presence to a team in dire need of just that.

The batter who will benefit the most from Jackson and Damon’s arrival will be Miguel Cabrera. The run support should help him improve upon his already strong 103 RBIs. Cabrera is one of the best (and one of the most underrated) players in the game, and now being 26 years old, his home run total (already at 34) should increase as well.

Assuming he stays in shape, which is never a sure thing with Cabrera, he should be able to maintain his .324 average. If the Tigers make some noise in the Al Central, Miguel Cabrera will likely be included in MVP discussions.

Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen, the two most seasoned veterans on the Tigers, will start in right field and in the designated hitter’s spot.

Ordonez is out to prove that he is not too old to be a dominant hitter, looking to build on the nine home runs he hit last season. Ordonez has always hit for the average (.310 last season and a career average of .312), so there is no reason to think that his average will drop any time soon.

Guillen, on the other hand, should be worried that his job might be in jeopardy this season. While he was injured last year, in two seasons he has seen his home run average drop from 21 to 10, his RBI total drop from 102 to 41, all while his average took a .50 point hit. As the team’s designated hitter, he will need to find his form if he is not going to be replaced.

Scott Sizemore, at second base, will be the second rookie starter on the Tigers, adding even more speed to the back end of the lineup. Super utility-man Brandon Inge will start at third after having one of the best seasons of his career, Adam Everett will start at short, and Gerald Laird will start the year behind home plate.


Justin Verlander, coming off of a 19-win, league-leading 269-strike out season, will take the mound as the Tigers’ opening day starter. After a down year in 2008, Verlander worked on his mechanics and returned to being one of the game’s most dominant pitchers. The Tigers will need him to have another stellar year if they are to contend.

Rick Porcello, who at 20 years old won 14 games last season, will start behind Verlander. If he can continue to develop and not hit the sophomore slump like so many young starters do, the tigers will be able to start thinking about the postseason.

Jeremy Bonderman who has only made 13 starts in the last two years (just one last season), is looking to regain his spot in the rotation. Max Scherzer, who won nine games for Arizona last season, will move into the fourth spot, and, as of now, Eddie Bonine, who started four games last season, will take over the fifth spot.

Jose Valverde, who came over from the Astros via free agency, will bring his 25 saves to Detroit, taking over closing duties. Hard Throwing Joel Zumaya will likely set him up.


Detroit has the talent to content with the Twins and White Sox at the top of the AL Central. The Tigers greatest flaw is a thin rotation, though, which could kill their playoff hopes if one of the starters gets injured.

Damon and Jackson seem like nice fits and should spark the offense while giving Cabrera more run support. This team, filled with veterans, will need to stay healthy, as an injury to anyone will seriously hurt their chances.

If the offense can stay healthy, and Bonderman can regain his form, then the Tigers could challenge for the division. But no team ever has a season without a number of setbacks, so I do not see them beating out the Twins.

But it wouldn’t be surprising if the Tigers overtake the White Sox and finish second.

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