When Pre-Season Predictions Go Wrong Part Two: Detroit Tigers

By Rich MacLeod

To read Part One of “When Pre-Season Predictions Go Wrong”, click here.

Normally I’m pretty good with my pre-season predictions. That trend has not continued this year.

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Like many, I bought into the Detroit Tigers this season after the big-time acquisition of Prince Fielder. I mean, why wouldn’t you? This knocked off the vaunted New York Yankees in New York in the American League Division Series last year without him. They’ve got guys like Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, Alex Avila and a closer who had a perfect season in Jose Valverde. And yet, to this point, this season has been a colossal failure in Detroit. But why?

One team taking advantage of the Tigers’ early season struggles have been the once again surprising Cleveland Indians who sit atop the American League Central with a 26-20 record. Even the Chicago White Sox, who had been the trendy pick to make the playoffs in years past have started the season well and have done it fairly under the radar. Why are these teams in the positions they’re in now? It’s because the Detroit Tigers have underperformed, and that’s putting it lightly.

Alex Avila, who became a breakout star in 2011, has been anything but in 2012. While he has shown some power with 5 home runs this season, Avila is batting just .234 with an on base percentage of .313. That just won’t cut it after showing what he is capable of last season. Jose Valverde, who went 49-for-49 last year in save opportunities, has blown two saves already and has an ERA of 4.91. Could you have realistically have asked for or expected another perfect season from this closer? No, but you definitely would have expected better. Even in the saves that he’s converted he has struggled and he is seemingly not comfortable when coming into games in a non-save situation.

Guys like Fielder and Cabrera have been as advertised but it’s the rest of the team that needs to perform if they want to make it back to the postseason and make a potential run to the World Series. Also, Doug Fister needs to get some damn run support. I expect the Tigers to, at some point, put things together and take this division. The White Sox and Indians are not teams that are fully ready for playoff runs in my mind, at least not yet. But, while I do think that Detroit will get back on track, it is clear that this team has more flaws than I thought. Well, at least this wasn’t as bad as my pick of the Colorado Rockies.

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