When Victor Martinez went down with a torn ACL last January, Detroit Tigers nation collectively hung their heads in doubt.
However, the club went out and added slugging first baseman Prince Fielder to bridge the offensive gap left by Martinez. It worked out as they wound up winning the American League pennant and playing in the MLB World Series.
A year later, Martinez has begun a base running program and is set to begin spring training ahead of schedule. Martinez will enter the third year of the four year, $50 million contract he signed with the Tigers prior to the 2011 season. I believe he can make a great team even better and the Tigers favorites to repeat as American League champions.
Although Martinez caught 110 games with the Boston Red Sox before heading to Detroit, he was behind the plate for only 26 games in 2011. Coming off of micro-fracture surgery, I would be absolutely stunned to see him behind the plate at all in 2013.
Now, this will put Martinez at the designated hitter position where the Tigers did not get much production with just a .257 batting average and .687 OPS in 2012. Martinez will improve that production tenfold as he was an MVP caliber player the last time he stepped up to bat. The 10-year veteran posted a .330 average, 60 doubles and 12 homers in 2011–leading the Tigers to their first divisional title since 1987.
With Fielder and Miguel Cabrera slugging alongside Martinez, this team will compete with the Los Angeles Angels for the preseason accolade as the “Best American League Team.”
With Martinez back in the fold, look for the Tigers to make hay in an AL Central that was less than stellar in 2012.