Ah, the smell of fresh cut grass, the sight of orange clay being put down, it only means one thing: Baseball season is upon us.
This time last year, the Detroit Tigers had already acquired Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis, easily making them a favorite to win the AL Central Division, the Pennant, and the World Series.
But with a horrible 0-7 start, swept by the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox, their first win ironically came against the Boston Red Sox. They did not reach the .500 mark until the 80th game of the season.
The main cause of disappointment was the pitching, but they also had been shutout 11 times, a league high.
Towards the end of last season, the Tigers found their groove with the bat, and if they continue that into this year, they should be fine offensively, but it all comes down to Miguel Cabrera and his hitting.
He got hot at the end of the season. He was hitting well below .300 with only 16 HR's and 51 RBI's in the first half of the season, but picked it up in the second half finishing with .292 Batting Average, 37 HR's and 127 RBI's, second in the league.
Since Cabrera has had a year of AL pitching, I see him as the one who will pick up the slack for the rest of the hitters.
With other great hitters such as Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen, Curtis Granderson, Placido Polanco, and Marcus Thames emerging last year, Gary Sheffield has the most to prove in this upcoming season.
After an amazing '07 output, he only hit .225 with 19 HR's and 57 RBI's, and this being the last year on his contract, he has the most to prove if he wants to continue his MLB career, even though this will be his 22nd season.
The batting order this year will look pretty much identical to last year: Granderson leading off, Polanco taking second, Guillen third, Ordonez fourth, Cabrera fifth, Sheffield sixth, Santiago seventh, and Inge eighth.
The biggest strength to this lineup is the hitting firepower. They were in the top 10 in Batting Average, HR, RBI, Hits, SLG%, and OBP.
There are really no weaknesses to this great lineup, but if the pitching isn't there to help, they may get discouraged.
Otherwise, they very well could put up 1,000 runs or more.