5 Reasons Why Detroit Tigers May Not Need Another Bat
5 Reasons Why Detroit Tigers May Not Need An Extra Slugger
Spring Training is now underway, and a brand new era of Detroit Tigers baseball is about to begin. Brad Ausmus, the Tigers' new manager, is inheriting a team that is going to be expected to win. However, a few key players who were a big part of the team's recent run at success will be noticeably absent. Although questions remain about the Tigers' 2014 lineup, many still consider the Tigers' lineup to be one of the best in all of MLB.
Some fear that the Tigers do not have enough power, and there have been quite a few rumblings involving the Tigers possibly having interest in free agent slugger Nelson Cruz. However, Tigers GM, Dave Dombrowski, has shot these rumors down and for good reason. Cruz would have been a very poor fit for the Tigers for a variety of reasons, and two of the biggest reasons are because he is not a good defensive outfielder and he is not a left-handed hitter.
The Tigers' lack of left-handed bats is a legitimate concern. Victor Martinez, Andy Dirks and Alex Avila are the only three lefties who are projected to be in the everyday lineup against right-handed pitching this coming season. Furthermore, only one of them, Martinez, actually had a good season in 2013. However, it should be noted that the Tigers have won a lot of games in the past without having the luxury of a surplus of left-handed hitters.
When the Tigers went to the World Series in 2006, Carlos Guillen and Curtis Granderson were the team's only consistent left-handed bats throughout much of the season. Sean Casey did not arrive until the trading deadline, troubled Dmitri Young only played in 48 games and was released in September of that season, and the Tigers picked up Matt Stairs with only a couple weeks left in the regular season (however, he was ineligible for the postseason). Nevertheless, the Tigers still won 95 games and reached the World Series.
The Tigers did not have an overwhelming abundance of power during the 2006 season either, as nary a single player on that squad reached the 30-HR mark. The Tigers have won with right-handed heavy lineups that featured limited power in the past, and here are five reasons why they should be able to do so again in 2014.
5. Starting Rotation
Although having a good lineup is important, pitching and defense are what wins ball games. Good pitching will always beat good hitting, and the Tigers have one of the best rotations in all of baseball. They have the three-headed monster which consists of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez, and the three of them could combine for upwards of 50 wins in 2014. Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly are likely to have great seasons as well.
4. Improved Bullpen
In keeping with the theme of pitching and defense as keys to winning games, the Tigers also have an improved bullpen for 2014 and the team should be able to win more tight games. The Tigers should not blow as many leads late in games this coming season, and will therefore not find themselves in need of a ninth-inning grand slam nearly as often.
3. Added Speed
Ausmus stated this winter that "there is more than one way to skin a cat" when referring to the changes the Tigers have made to their lineup. The Tigers may not hit as many home runs in 2014 as they did in 2013, but they will certainly steal more bases and should still score plenty of runs. The Tigers' new speedsters include Ian Kinsler and Rajai Davis. It should be noted that Jose Iglesias and Nick Castellanos will also move much better than some Tigers have in recent years.
2. Wally Joyner
The Tigers' new hitting coach, Wally Joyner, could very easily have a significant impact on the Tigers' lineup. Rumor has it that Joyner could not wait to get to the Tigers' Spring Training camp in Lakeland, Fla. to work with the early arrivals. He served as an assistant hitting coach for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2013, and received a good portion of the credit for the emergence of Domonic Brown. Hopefully, Joyner can have a similar effect on Tigers hitters.
1. Miguel Cabrera
The Tigers still have the best hitter in all of baseball in Miguel Cabrera. Regardless of who he has batting behind him, Cabrera can be expected to hit at least .300 with 30 home runs and over 100 RBIs. He is the rare type of hitter who can carry an entire team on his back, and any lineup that features his name in the middle of it should be in great shape.