The Detroit Tigers are good, just how good remains to be seen. There are plenty of questions still to be answered throughout spring training before the team heads home to the blustery spring of Michigan.
But make no mistake: On paper, this is the best team fans have had to cheer for in nearly 30 years.
That year was 1984 and Sparky Anderson's Cats were 35-5 in their first 40 games—a start never seen before and never repeated since. The corner of Michigan and Trumbull had Motown rockin'.
In 2006, few had any real expectations that Jim Leyland's new team would do much more than in the previous decade of floundering. A small wager on the Tigers that season would have provided a long-shot gambler vast riches, as Leyland took his rag-tag bunch all the way to the World Series B.M.G. (Before Miguel Cabrera).
Six years later, the tables have turned and everyone will be gunning for the presumed preseason American League king of the hill. While the boys of summer are still working out the winter kinks in Lakeland, they'll soon head home to the comforts of Comerica Park to begin their prowl toward a second straight A.L. Central Division title.
Their arrival will be lead by defending American League Cy Young and MVP pitcher Justin Verlander, as well as last season's blockbuster pickup Doug Fister and third-year Tigers fire-baller Max Scherzer.
The Tigers will also have a now-seasoned Rick Porcello, who bounced back last season and finished 14-9—the same record as his rookie season, following a poor showing his sophomore season in 2009 when he went 10-12. This is a huge swing season for Porcello. A great year will lock him in Detroit's rotation for a long time to come. The organization has invested in that already.
Depending on which Vegas book sports fans favor, the Tigers are an odds-on favorite to win the World Series, second only to the Philadelphia Phillies. Against Vegas' best line makers, the Tigers seem a sure bet for postseason play. Where they stand at Game 162 will have to wait eight months. Plenty of forecasts will be wagered between now and then.
Here's a forecast of how things will shake out for Detroit's starting rotation.