Detroit Tigers: 2012 Predictions for Starters at Each Position

Anthony Dinsmore@@AnthonyDinsmoreContributor IIJanuary 5, 2012

Detroit Tigers: 2012 Predictions for Starters at Each Position

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    After losing in the ALCS to the Texas Rangers, the Detroit Tigers are heading into the 2012 season with high expectations. 

    The AL Central is looking like it's going to be a weak division this year, and the Tigers are looking forward to taking advantage.

    Here is a list of predictions for this upcoming season for the starters at each position.

Catcher: Alex Avila

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    Alex Avila was named the starting catcher last season after the departure of Gerald Laird. 

    Avila's average started to slide at the end of the season after getting little-to-no rest down the stretch due to Victor Martinez having a nagging leg injury. 

    With the Tigers bringing back Laird to be Avila's backup, Avila should see some improvements at the plate and in terms of the amount of rest he gets.

    Avg.     HR      RBI

    .302      22       90

First Base: Miguel Cabrera

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    Miguel Cabrera has established himself as arguably the best player in the American League. 

    He had a sensational season at the plate last year, batting a league-high .344 with 30 HR and 105 RBI.  He's been in the MVP conversation the past couple years, but has come up short. 

    Cabrera's batting average is tremendous, with great power numbers despite playing home games at Comerica Park.  His best friend, Victor Martinez, is right behind him in the lineup, so pitchers aren't walking Cabrera as much as they used to. 

    This will be the year Cabrera hits 40 homers and wins AL MVP.

    Avg.    HR    RBI

    .327    41     127

Second Base: Ramon Santiago

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    Along with Jhonny Peralta, Ramon Santiago was one of the few consistently good Tigers infielders last year.  While he wasn't an everyday player in 2011, he still made some solid contributions to the lineup, batting a respectable .260. 

    It seems like Santiago is going to be expected to become an everyday player after signing a new contract this offseason.  The Tigers also parted ways with second base prospect Will Rhymes after some Twitter posts questioning the decisions of manager Jim Leyland during the ALCS. 

    The opportunity is there for the taking for Santiago.

    Avg.    HR      RBI

    .252      4        57

Third Base: Brandon Inge

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    I'm sorry Brandon Inge fans, but this is the year he leaves and doesn't come back. 

    Don't get me wrong, I like Inge, and I think he's a great competitor and a great athlete.  But, let's be realistic; he's on his last leg. 

    When he was designated for assignment last year, do you know why Inge chose to go down to the minors?  Because other teams have very little interest in him, if any at all. 

    Yeah, he would still get his money that he is owed, but Inge has too much pride to quit.  So since Inge won't quit, the Tigers will quit on him, and it'll be the end of his career. 

    Avg.     HR      RBI

    .215      2        10         (Midseason Release)   

Shortstop: Jhonny Peralta

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    Jhonny Peralta had a breakout year with the Tigers after being traded from the Indians the season before last. 

    After being roughly a .250 hitter his whole career, Peralta batted .299 with 21 HR and 86 RBI last season.  

    Jim Leyland bats him in the lower part of the lineup, and Peralta seems very comfortable there.  Leyland is not the kind of manager that likes to change up his lineup often, so as long as Peralta bats around sixth or seventh in the lineup, we can expect him to have a very similar year to last.

    Avg.     HR     RBI

    .288      17      75 

Outfielder: Brennan Boesch

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    Oh my Boesch!  After having a very inconsistent rookie year, Brennan Boesch proved to everyone in his second big league season that he belongs in MLB

    Though an injury ended his season early, he was still impressive last year, batting .283 with 16 HR and 54 RBI. 

    Boesch learned a lot from his rookie year.  One noticeable adjustment he made last year was that he swung at the first pitch less and less.  Swinging at the first pitch is nice every now and then, but making a habit of it will just make a pitcher's job easier. 

    Boesch has grown and will have a breakout season.

    Avg.     HR      RBI

    .315      22       90

Outfielder: Austin Jackson

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    It seems that Austin Jackson has become a carbon copy of Curtis Granderson when he was a Tiger: a leadoff hitter who has great fielding ability, but doesn't have a very high batting average and strikes out way too much. 

    Jackson needs to be the catalyst for this high-powered Detroit offense.  He has started way too many innings with outs, which obviously decreases the chance of getting a run that inning. 

    Some think that Jackson's sophomore slump is because he tries to hit home runs too many times.  When you're a leadoff hitter, your main priority is getting on base.  Swinging for the fences increases the chance of an out, especially for young players with little power. 

    If Jackson can adjust his approach at the plate, he can become a very solid leadoff hitter.  I expect him to do this, but don't be surprised if the Tigers look to take their business elsewhere next offseason.

    Avg.     HR     RBI

    .270     13       59

Outfielder: Delmon Young

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    As long as he's not throwing bats at umpires, he should be fine. 

    Delmon Young was acquired by the Tigers to help fill a hole in the outfield after Brennan Boesch got hurt.  He was the missing piece of the Tigers' puzzle and helped them cruise to the AL Central title. 

    Young's numbers are a little misleading, as he batted .268 with 12 HR and 64 RBI last season.  Young has shown potential to become a better player than his numbers lead you to believe, and that's just what will happen this season.

    Avg.    HR     RBI

    .278     20     88

Designated Hitter: Victor Martinez

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    The Tigers were quite pleased when the Indians traded Martinez out of the AL Central.  Now, he's all theirs, and he's here to stay. 

    When the Tigers acquired Martinez, they expected him to serve a big role, which was simply to protect Miguel Cabrera.  Pitchers were starting to pitch around Cabrera way too much, and when he would be put on first, the Tigers didn't have a big weapon to follow. 

    Martinez changed that rather quickly.  He hit .330 with 12 HR and 103 RBI.  Martinez also became a deadly hitter with runners in scoring position and two outs. 

    His clutch performances helped the Tigers win a lot of games last year, and we can expect him to have an encore season this year, but with a little more power.

    Avg.     HR     RBI

    .334      19      115

Pitcher: Justin Verlander

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    Avg.     HR     RBI

    .000      0        0

    Dang, a guy can have this kind of year at the plate and still win MVP?  And they say the MVP is an award for hitters.  They don't know what they're talking about.