By James Nahikian
Hype for the 2012 season was taken to new heights when the Tigers signed homerun slugging, Prince Fielder (First Basemen). One of the most sought after free agents in this year’s class. Virtually no one expected the Tigers to land “The Prince.” Exciting as the signing was, the move forced All-Star first basemen, Miguel Cabrera, to move to third base. The position that he broke into the league with, but also a position that he has struggled with in previous seasons. Most recently in his first season as a Tiger, in 2008. He struggled so much, that the organization thought he should stop playing the position entirely. Although manager Jim Leyland seems very optimistic about his star moving back to third, many are sceptic. The issue is one of many that surrounds the much anticipated 2012 season.
Expectations. Back in the 2008, the Tigers took the world by surprise and picked up Cy Young winner, Dontrelle Willis and soon to be batting champ, Miguel Cabrera. Sports Illustrated picked the Tigers as the runaway favorite to win the World Series. As did the rest of the baseball world. How did they do? Terrible. The season was a complete flop and the Tigers did not even qualify for the postseason. Will this season be any different? Although the absence of Victor Martinez will hurt, the Tigers return most of their stars from last years’ AL Central Champinship team. Younger players have another year under their belt. And yes, the addition of Prince Fielder is still fresh in every fan’s mind. Expectations are as big as they have ever been in Detroit, even more so than when the Tigers let everyone down in 2008. Will the Tigers let the hype get the best of them again? Will Miguel Cabrera last at third base? Will the defense as a whole make enough plays? Keep in mind, Prince Fielder is no iron man. Will Austin Jackson (Center Fielder, who batted only .249 last season and had 181 strikeouts) figure things out? Can Prince Fielder’s bat help replace the injured Victor Martinez? Martinez was huge for Detroit last season, batting .330 with 103 RBI. These are just a few of the questions that surround the 2012 Detroit Tigers.
Yes, fans do have their concerns. But if all goes well, there is no reason why the Tigers cannot have a magical season. They are competing in without a doubt, the easiest division in the American League and they have arguably the most potent lineup from top to bottom. The rotation seems to be fantastic. Headed by reigning AL MVP and Cy Young winner, Justin Verlander. As well as Doug Fister, who went 8-1 in the regular season after being aquired from Seattle. And Max Scherzer combined with Rick Porcello to earn 29 wins last season. Even the bullpen got stronger with the acquisition of Octavio Dotel. Who will fit in nicely with the closer, Jose Valverde (Who saved all 49 games last season) and set up man Joaquin Benoit who had a 2.95 ERA in 2011.
The Moter City will be buzzing all year long this baseball season. Although there are many questions, most of the key guys on the roster have proven track records. Their numbers speak for themselves, and those numbers have stayed put year after year. When its all said and done, Jim Leyland can more than likely pencil in 30+ homers apiece for both Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder and count on Justin Verlander to come up with another 20+ win season. Couple that with guys like Jhonny Peralta (Shortstop) and Alex Avila, (Catcher) who both made the American League All-Star team last year, and you already have a very dynamic roster.
Every team will always have their weaknesses. But for this year’s edition of the Detroit Tigers, the strengths seem to outnumber those weaknesses substantially. It all gets underway tomorrow afternoon at 1:05 PM. The Tigers will battle the Boston Redsox at Comerica Park. “The Ace,” Justin Verlander is set to duel with Boston’s, Jon Lester on the mound. The boys of summer will be at it for the next 7 months. And when it is all over, Detroit will hope to party again like its 1984.
James Nahikian blogs about the industry of sports. And specializes in articles about the Detroit Tigers, Major League Baseball and Bowling Green State University Athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org And follow him on twitter @KingNahikian or facebook where you can find links to his articles and updates about future posts.