MLB Preview 2012: Comparing the Cleveland Indians to the New-Look Detroit Tigers

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MLB Preview 2012: Comparing the Cleveland Indians to the New-Look Detroit Tigers
Jorge Lemus/Getty Images
Despite signing Prince Fielder, the Tigers could still lose the division.

While the Detroit Tigers' signing of Prince Fielder last week definitely struck a blow to the Cleveland Indians' chances of contending in 2012, all is not lost if you look at the tale of the tape.

Lost in all the Fielder-Detroit hype is how little of an effect one player has on a baseball team's whole season. The best players are only worth around six or seven wins more than your average Joe Nobody doing time at Triple-A. Plus, considering that Fielder is replacing Victor Martinez in the Tigers lineup—a very good hitter in his own right—the return is even less.

The signing was definitely a short-sighted move that will help now and hurt later, but right now, who cares about 2018? The Indians made their own splash last year trading for Ubaldo Jimenez, effectively putting them in win-now mode, same as the Tigers. So, let's look at how these two teams stack up going into 2012.

Note: I will be using the previous three year's worth of fWAR, averaged out to one season, to estimate how much each player will be worth this year. It's a bit crude, but a fairly good predictor of a player's upcoming season. Any player with less than three year's playing time is not estimated nearly as well and noted with an *, but for the most part, the predictions seem in line with what should be expected. 

Rosters are from MLB Depth Charts.

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