The Detroit Tigers are consensus favorites to repeat as AL Central Champions. It's common knowledge, and might not even bear repeating. However, the Tigers crown from last year was won on the backs of several players who had exceptional, and in a few cases totally unexpected, performances. Jhonny Peralta had only batted over .290 one other time in his career, for instance. Justin Verlander's AL MVP performance was historic, and not many expected Alex Avila to be the AL All-Star starting catcher. These guys may have played over their heads, and it's important to keep that in mind heading into this year's season.
The flip side of that coin, of course, is that a few guys played well below expectations. Rick Porcello's ERA was just south of 5, Austin Jackson not only regressed in batting average on balls in play from his 2010 campaign, but also struck out more, and third base was an offensive black hole. Some of the guys who underperformed are bound to take a step forward in 2012.
The question going into this year's spring training is who are the Tigers most likely to take a step back, and who on the team is going to give us a pleasant surprise?