By David Miller @DavidMillerRant on March 29, 2014
The Detroit Tigers are a great example of perennial contenders in MLB. Every single season they are picked to win it all by some handful of experts and for good reason. Even with some offseason changes like the trading of Prince Fielder and the retirement of Jim Leyland, this team still looks to be as good as anyone. They have been touched by the injury bug however so new manager Brad Ausmus definitely will have to get the best out of his team.
As far as how the top of the batting order shakes out, the addition of Kinsler should be a plus. He and Austin Jackson have similar average and on-base numbers throughout their careers but Kinsler is more experienced. In addition to that he will be a great leader of the clubhouse as well.
Every season someone claims that Hunter is about to start the downward spiral towards the end of his career but it still hasn't happened. Don't assume it will happen this year either. There is a reason that he still performs at a high level, no matter what his age. He works hard to provide the best to the Tigers from right field and he will do it again this year.
What can you say about a guy who won the Triple Crown a couple of years ago and almost won it back to back years last year. He likely would have if he had not have been slowed by injury at the end of the season. Miggy is by many accounts the best overall player in MLB from a power and run support point of view. The move to first base should just help him get the most out of the next decade.
Though the designated hitter position is a key position for American League teams, not everyone is able to field a really good one. The Tigers are one of the lucky teams as one of their better hitters is in this spot. Look for about the same good numbers from him this year.
I think not spending much if any time at the top of the batting order will be good for Jackson in 2014. He needs to stay healthy and achieve a level of consistency this season. With the changes they have made during the offseason, the team could actually fit his style of hitting better than it has before.
Avila is a very important member of this team as can be said of any catcher in MLB. Though his numbers were not great in 2013, he could rebound to previously better numbers this season if he stays healthy and plays all season long. The last time he did that he belted 19 home runs and played well enough to finish twelfth in MVP voting.
Castellanos is a bit of a wild card only because he is a rookie. His ability to play third base did allow the trade of Fielder and now he takes over where Miggy left off at third. Don't expect Cabrera-type numbers from him just yet but he could certainly make some noise in the A.L. Rookie of the Year voting.
With the injury to Andy Dirks, Davis and fellow outfielder Don Kelly will have a larger role for the first half of the season. With Kelly nursing hamstring issues going into the season's first week, you can look to probably see Davis out there. Either way, this is an uncertain position for the Tigers. It could prove to be an added strength if the various players do well or a weakness if they do not.
The biggest injury bite on this team is clearly the one to shortstop Jose Iglesias. There have been two moves in response, one for a young player in Andrew Romine and one for the veteran Gonzalez. Look for Gonzalez to get some time to start the season. Considering how much he struggled one year ago however, don't be surprised if this develops into less time for him and more of a chance for Romine.
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