Detroit Tigers State Of The Union Part 1: What Will The Offense Look Like In 2014?
By Dan Wanser (MLB Reports Writer) Follow @DanWanser
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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:
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.
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.
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.
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 could also trade one of their extra Starting Pitchers to acquire a LHB at some point this offseason, or early into next year.
*** 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***
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Posted on November 25, 2013, in MLB Teams State Of the Unions, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged 2011 ALCS, 2012 world series, 2013 ALCS, 2013 playoffs, 2014 preview, @DanWanser, @danwanser on twitter, AL Cenral, alex avila, American league, andy dirks, austin jackson, dan wanser, detroit, detroit tigers, Don Kelley, ian kinsler, Jose Iglesias, miguel cabrera, mlb, nick castellanos, prince fielder, prospects, Torii Hunter. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.