Detroit Tigers State Of The Union Part 1: What Will The Offense Look Like In 2014?

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Despite losing to Boston in the American League Championship Series, the Detroit Tigers had a respectable season in 2013 finishing the Regular Season with a solid record of 93-69, 24 games above .500 and AL Central Winners. To top that off, they also beat the Oakland Athletics in 5 games to advance past the ALDS .

By Dan Wanser (MLB Reports Writer)   

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Moving into 2014, the Detroit Tigers look to have a season which takes them past the ALCS where their 2013 run ended, and potentially all the way to the Fall Classic in November which was just outside their grasp.

The Tigers have made it to the ALCS for 3 straight years, and will attempt to be the 1st franchise since the Yankees made it to 4 consecutive League Championships from 1998 – 2001 in the American League next campaign.

With great players on the diamond everyday like Miguel Cabrera, newcomer Ian Kinsler, and Right Fielder Torii Hunter, Detroit is poised to make another deep playoff run not only in the upcoming season, but in many years to come.

Looking back at the 2013 lineup, there isn’t much that needs to be changed so here’s what I think their 2014 starters will look like.

2013 Detroit Tigers Pump-Up Video:

Miguel Cabrera is arguably the best player in the Major Leagues right now, and is definitely the best player on his Tigers team. On top of winning the Triple Crown two seasons ago, Cabrera has won the American League Most Valuable Player award in each of the last two years and will likely be in the running when next season comes around. The 3rd Baseman is always counted on in big situations and comes through in many of them which is a big reason Detroit is as good as they are.

Miguel Cabrera is arguably the best player in the Major Leagues right now, and is definitely the best player on his Tigers team. On top of winning the Triple Crown two seasons ago, Cabrera has won the American League Most Valuable Player award in each of the last two years and will likely be in the running when next season comes around. The 3rd Baseman is always counted on in big situations and comes through in many of them which is a big reason Detroit is as good as they are.

First Base – Miguel Cabrera: Now that the trade between the Tigers and Rangers have shaken things up a bit, Miguel Cabrera will likely take Prince Fielder‘s spot at first base across from the hot-corner where he played last season.

With the potential move across the diamond, it could help Cabrera focus more on the offensive side of the game and improve his already amazing numbers.

Plus, the move will make room for Nick Castellanos to come up and play every day at 3rd base. Now that he doesn’t have to focus on defense as much, it could possibly pave the way for a 3rd MVP caliber season from the All-Star.

Second Base – Ian Kinsler: With the trade the other day, the Tigers have without a doubt made their team better.

Instead of needing a new guy like Hernan Perez to step up and play every day after playing only 34 games in 2013 they now have a clubhouse leader and experienced second baseman in the former Ranger, Ian Kinsler.

Now that Kinsler has taken over the job, he adds not only solid defense in the field, but a steady bat in the already potent Detroit Tiger offense which will definitely help out Cabrera.

As long as Kinsler can stay healthy and on the field he will definitely be an asset to his new ballclub in 2014 and beyond.

Shortstop - Jose Iglesias: Entering his 3rd year in the Major, Jose Iglesias will likely remain the everyday shortstop for Detroit as he did a pretty solid job at the end of the regular season and through the playoffs in 2013 after coming from Boston.

Like many other people in the Detroit lineup, Iglesias is solid at the plate. In his 109 games played last season, the infielder hit a respectable .303 and managed 106 hits, almost one a game.

Third Base – Nick Castellanos: As a result of the Fielder-Kinsler trade, Nick Castellanos now has a new home on the corner of the diamond.

The young guy got a taste of the big leagues in 11 games last season, managing five hits in his 18 at-bats which isnt terrible for a new guy.

Now entering his first full season, he has some big shoes to fill and expectations to meet that are coming with his starting job.

Ian Kinsler joining the Detroit Tigers is going to have a huge impact on their season. Not only are they freeing up some space salary wise as they got rid of some of Prince Fielders contract, but they are gaining a solid bat to add to the lineup and a presence in the locker room. Ian Kinsler will definitely be an asset for Detroit this season, and in the next few years

Ian Kinsler joining the Detroit Tigers is going to have a huge impact on their season. Not only are they freeing up some space salary wise as they got rid of some of Prince Fielders contract, but they are gaining a solid bat to add to the lineup and a presence in the locker room. Ian Kinsler will definitely be an asset for Detroit this season, and in the next few years

Catcher – Alex Avila: Alex Avila has been the Detroit Tigers catcher for a few years now, and he definitely isn’t going anywhere else anytime soon.

Despite battling some injuries in 2012 and 2013, Avila had a pretty decent season if you take everything into consideration as he is very solid defensively behind the plate and had an extremely good postseason hitting a combined .350 in the Division and Championship series.

Right Field – Torii Hunter: Just like he did last season, Torii Hunter will be patrolling right field once again in 2014.

Even though he couldn’t make the catch in what became an iconic photo when David Ortiz hit a grand slam in the ALCS, he is till a solid outfielder defensively, and brings something to the plate every time he steps into the batters box.

At the plate in 2013, Hunter hit a solid .304 during the regular season, and even though he didn’t hit well during the playoffs he is seen as a threat when he comes to the dish.

Hunter is also good on the other side of the ball, as he only had 3 errors last year, giving him a fielding percentage of .987 to go with 9 outfield assists including 3 double plays.

Center Field – Austin Jackson: Just like his teammate in Right Field, Austin Jackson will also return as a starter just like he did last season as he will remain in Center.

Jackson isn’t as productive at the plate as Hunter, but he is definitely just as good if not better when it comes to defense.

Last season, Jackson hit a mere .272 during the regular season but made up for that as he only had 2 errors to go with his 5 outfield assists, landing him a fielding percentage of .993 which should give him job security over the next couple seasons.

Left Field - Don Kelly / Andy Dirks: At this point in time I don’t think the Tigers really have a set starter in Left Field.

Before the Fielder-Kinsler trade, Nick Castellanos was likely going to get the job, but now he is going to take over at 3rd base so Cabrera can play at First, which leaves a hole at the Left Field position.

Because of that, I think Don Kelley and Andy Dirks are going to split time at the position.

If you compare the stats of Kelley and Dirks, they are very similar players, with Dirks being slightly better.  

Last season, Dirks played in 19 more games and hit .256, .024 higher than Kelley’s average of .232 and also had more Home Runs, RBI’s, and Hits in general.

On the defensive side of the ball, its literally a toss up as their stats are basically identical as both players had 2 errors in 2013, with Dirks having the better fielding percentage at .992 because he played in more games.

When push comes to shove Dirks is likely going to get more time out in Left than Kelly will, but they will definitely both get chances as they are likely to share the time in the field.

Victor Martinez is one of the top 2 Designated Hitters in the game.  The 34 Year Old had an incredible Post ALL - Star campaign in 2013 - .363/.413/.913, and has continued the hotstreak in the Playoffs - hitting .421/.450/1.055 so far.  The Tigers only have him locked for one more year in 2014 ($12 MIL) before he hits Free Agency.  Perhaps it is time to re - up with the man now that they have traded Fielder away to free up spending cash

Victor Martinez is one of the top 2 Designated Hitters in the game. The 34 Year Old had an incredible Post ALL – Star campaign in 2013 – .363/.413/.913, and continued the hotstreak in the Playoffs – hitting .405/.450/1.003 in 42 AB – with 6 Multi – Hit contests out of the 11 Games Played. The Tigers only have him locked for one more year in 2014 ($12 MIL) before he hits Free Agency. Perhaps it is time to re – up with the man now that they have traded Fielder away to free up spending cash.  Martinez holds a Career Slash of .303/.369/.850 in 11 years of play.

Designated Hitter - Victor Martinez

With an awesome 2nd half, and a postseason directly right after, V – Mart playing at the top of his game must have been a motivating factor for the club to trade Prince Fielder. After all, Fielder was brought in after a freak injury to the man prior to the 2012 season.

Potential Moves Left In the Offensive Lineup?

Don’t be surprised for the Tigers to be involved all winter long on Free Agency. I am just not sure they will spend anymore on their lineup – considering their Team Payroll already, plus a need for several relievers. 

But they may go ever budget at Mike Illitch has done so many times in past years.

They should be players on Carlos Beltran, Shin-Soo Choo (to a lesser extent) and maybe even tote the notion of bringing back Curtis Granderson to offset their right handed heavy lineup. 

They could also trade one of their extra Starting Pitchers to acquire a LHB at some point this offseason, or early into next year.

Spring Update.

Andrew Romine was drafted in the 5th Round of the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft. He comes from a baseball pedigree with his dad (Kevin Romine having played for the Boston Red Sox from 1985 - 1991) and his brother Austin Romine Catching for the New York Yankees this year

Andrew Romine, the new Tigers SS,  was drafted in the 5th Round of the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft. He comes from a baseball pedigree with his dad (Kevin Romine having played for the Boston Red Sox from 1985 – 1991) and his brother Austin Romine Catching for the New York Yankees this year.  He will be in the mix for playing time with Hernan Perez.

Rajai Davis is one of the best 4th Outfielders in the game of baseball.  He has stolen 216 bags in the last 4 years.  Might he be the answer to the LF woes of the Tigers while Andy Dirks recovers from injury.  At the very least, he can replace the speed vacated by Reyes,  Davis is a Career .268/.316/.377.  In addition to his quickness, Davis is above average defensive Outfielder.

Rajai Davis is one of the best 4th Outfielders in the game of baseball. He has stolen 216 bags in the last 4 years. Might he be the answer to the LF woes of the Tigers while Andy Dirks recovers from injury. At the very least, he can replace the speed vacated by Reyes, Davis is a Career .268/.316/.377. In addition to his quickness, Davis is above average defensive Outfielder.

Detroit Tigers State Of The Union 2014 – Part 2: The Pitchers

For the most part, the Detroit Tigers outfield will likely look very similar to what it did last year, with Don Kelley possibly getting some time in Left or Right Field if Hunter or Dirks need some time off. All 4 guys are very solid defensively, but guys like Dirks and Kelley may need to hit a little better if they want to make it further than they did a season ago.

For the most part, the Detroit Tigers outfield will likely look very similar to what it did last year, with Don Kelley possibly getting some time in Left or Right Field if Hunter or Dirks need some time off. All 4 guys are very solid defensively, but guys like Dirks and Kelley may need to hit a little better if they want to make it further than they did a season ago.

*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com and their partners***

For all of the Rosters, Depth Charts, State of the Unions and Salaries Posts that we do, please visit our dedicated page link here.

A big thank-you goes out to Our writer Dan Wanser for preparing today’s featured article.  Dan is a Baseball Writer for MLB reports. He is a Junior at Pottsville High School in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.

Dan is a huge fan of Chase Utley and Cliff Lee.  He has been a baseball fan his whole life and loves writing about baseball.

You can reach Dan on Twitter  

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Posted on November 25, 2013, in MLB Teams State Of the Unions, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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