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Miguel Cabrera led the league in batting average, home runs and RBIs last season, but it did not earn the Detroit Tigers a World Series ring.
There is absolutely no doubt that the Detroit Tigers will be the team to beat in the American League this season, and thanks to a large investment in a quality starting pitcher there is no reason they should not make a second consecutive appearance in the World Series.
The Tigers made one of the best moves of the offseason by re-signing Anibal Sanchez to hold down the No. 4 spot in the rotation, and brining in veteran outfielder Torii Hunter will only help Detroit come playoff time.
Ace right-hander Justin Verlander will be one of the favorites to take home the Cy Young award come season's end, Doug Fister is going to be a dominant No. 2, Max Scherzer will be a strikeout machine once again and either Rick Porcello, or Drew Smyly will round out the Tigers' rotation.
Offensively, Miguel Cabrera is coming off of a triple crown year, Prince Fielder hit .313 with 30 home runs and over 100 RBIs in his first season in Detroit, so adding a career .303 hitter like Victor Martinez to the Tigers' lineup almost seems unfair.
Martinez spent all of 2012 recovering from an ACL injury, which will keep him in the designated hitter role for 2013.
The only concern for the reigning AL champs is the major question mark about who will be the closer this season.
General manger Dave Dombrowski already announced the team will not bring back Jose Valverde, who racked up 110 saves in three seasons as Detroit's closer, which means the Tigers will likely turn to 22-year old Bruce Rondon to pitch the ninth inning.
Even though Rondon is characterized as a "rare talent," the Tigers would be wise to take a chance on a recovering Brian Wilson, or Francisco Rodriguez in case the Venezuelan righty struggles as the closer.
If all else fails, Detroit could attempt to promote one of their other relievers. Set-up man Al Albuquerque or lefty Phil Coke should be the top two candidates if the Tigers are forced to go that route.
Regardless of who manager Jim Leyland elects to give the ball to in the final inning, it will not impact the Tigers significantly until the postseason. Detroit has more than enough offensive firepower and starting pitching to survive the regular season with a shoddy closer, but if the Tigers want to win a World Series title they will need somebody to be effective in the ninth.
Prediction: 94-68, First Place in AL Central