Key Acquisitions: Miguel Cabrera – 3B, Dontrelle Willis - SP, Edgar Renteria - SS, Jacque Jones – OF
Strengths: Detroit has power bats throughout the lineup and possesses the ability to score in bunches. The Tigers were relentless against right handed pitching, scoring almost 700 runs - 133 of those the long ball variety. This club also hit lefties just below a 300 clip. The offense churned out 5.47 RPG on the road in the division. They have veteran pitchers 1 through 5 as well. Ace Justin Verlander matches up with anybody and he is just now entering what should be his prime.
Weaknesses: The only pitcher who dominated division opponents in 2007 was Bonderman, who ironically had a difficult season on the whole. The bullpen has some strong points (Fernando Rodney, Todd Jones) but it struggled to be consistent. It ranked in the bottom third of the league in RPIA and walks per inning allowed. Detroit also fought to keep division teams off the board at Comerica Park (they gave up an even 5.00 RPG there).
Summary: The Tigers had the best off-season of any team in baseball. They've added great talent to an already potent lineup. Last season Detroit struggled to produce runs at home in division play. The additions of Cabrera, Renteria, and Jones should more than fix that problem. However, for them to overtake Cleveland their starting rotation and bullpen will have to perform better than it did a year ago. Todd Jones is not getting any younger and Joel Zumaya will be out until at least mid-season. Additionally, Jeremy Bonderman will have to rebound from a sub-par 2007 as will Dontrelle Willis. There is no doubt Detroit will be a major force but they still have a few questions to answer before they can be crowned champion.
Prediction: 2nd Place AL Central
DH: Gary Sheffield
CF: Curtis Granderson
RF: Magglio Ordonez
LF: Jacque Jones
C: Ivan Rodriguez
SS: Edgar Renteria
3B: Miguel Cabrera
2B: Placido Polanco
1B: Carlos Guillen
Key Players & Trends
Nate Robertson finished 2007 with a 9-13 record; however the Tigers were just 10-19 in games he started. In AL Central games Detroit finished with a record of 3-8 when Robertson took the hill. The average game score in Robertson's 11 division game starts was 8.27. Additionally, only five times out of those 11 games did the games score exceed eight runs. In the last three seasons Detroit is 38-57 when Robertson starts, so the Tigers lose 60 percent of the time when Robertson pitches. Since 2005 the Tigers are 11-23 when Robertson starts in division games - in other words, Detroit has lost 68% of the time that Robertson started in division games from 2005 through 2007.
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