In 2012, the Detroit Tigers struggled–to say the least–against the Cleveland Indians. The Tigers had a record of 8-10 against the tribe and most Detroit fans know the inability to beat the Indians was a hot topic all year. With all of the additions this past offseason, it might be even harder for the Tigers to beat Cleveland in 2013.
There is no doubt that the Tigers have the better team with the better talent, but that doesn’t always translate to wins against less talented teams and last year was a great example of that. This year, the Indians made some big improvements and it may show in the standings. They added outfield superstar Michael Bourn from free agency, which no one saw coming. Along with Bourn, they also added Drew Stubbs and Nick Swisher to the roster, legitimizing the outfield for Cleveland.
Not only did they improve the roster with players, they also improved with a new manager. Terry Francona was hired to take over the Indians after a disappointing 2012 season where they underachieved, to say the least. Francona spent last year working for ESPN doing color commentary for games and often contributed on Baseball Tonight, but he decided to get back into the dugout in 2013. He spent eight years with the Boston Red Sox, winning their first World Series since 1918, but wore out his welcome in 2012. He has ties to Cleveland, so this is home to him and I expect him to do a great job with the Indians.
The Tigers are the favorites to win the American League Central once again after winning their second straight division crown, but there will no doubt be more resistance this year with almost every team making improvements. I would put the Indians as the next best team in the Central behind the Tigers, but the Kansas City Royals could be good as well.
Detroit struggled against Cleveland when they weren’t a great team by any stretch of the imagination, so now that they are a lot better, there could be some cause for concern. I hope that I’m completely wrong, but the Indians could cause some big problems for the Tigers in 2013.