Final Predictions for Who Will Make the Detroit Tigers Roster
However, before the team heads north, it needs to cut its roster down to the required 25 players that can be carried until September 1.
The depth charts may be written in pencil for a few weeks as plans made in Lakeland play out in reality, but those 25 names are in indelible ink.
This projected roster is made with the assumption that the Tigers will carry 13 position players and 12 pitchers. With a number of off days built in to the April schedule, there is not such an urgent need for a fifth starter and the Tigers could go with 14 position players and only 11 pitchers.
*Spring statistics are current through Sunday, March 24 (courtesy of Baseball-Reference).
**Bolded Names are B/R's projections to make the roster.
No surprises here on who gets those two spots.
Alex Avila will be the Tigers' everyday catcher. Pencil him in for 120 games behind the plate.
Brayan Pena will be the obligatory day-game-after-night-game catcher and whenever else Avila needs a day off.
Victor Martinez could also catch a game or two.
All four starters were known when spring training started. Prince Fielder will play first, Omar Infante will play second, Miguel Cabrera will play third and Jhonny Peralta will be the shortstop.
With Jeff Kobernus returning to the Washington Nationals, the Tigers will likely have Danny Worth and either Don Kelly or Matt Tuaisosopo will cover the middle infield when Infante or Peralta need a day off.
Victor Martinez or Miguel Cabrera can play first if on the odd chance Prince Fielder cannot field and Worth can cover third if Cabrera is in the lineup elsewhere.
There was not much question that Andy Dirks was going to be the everyday left fielder for the Tigers before the season. His play this spring has solidified that choice.
Dirks will join Austin Jackson in center and Torii Hunter in right as the everyday starters.
Quintin Berry will be the fourth outfielder and should see time in both left and right field.
The Tigers could also use Matt Tuaisosopo if they needed a fifth outfielder and could recall Avisail Garcia from Toledo if there is an injury.
The front four of the Tigers rotation is one of the scariest in baseball. Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez all had their spots locked up before camp began.
The battle for the fifth spot continues to be between Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly. While Smyly has done nothing to lose that spot, Porcello has not only out-pitched him, but he's out-pitched Doug Fister as well.
Porcello has won the fifth spot provided he is not traded before the season begins.
The Tigers are likely to have seven pitchers in their 'pen to start the season.
Drew Smyly will be the long reliever and can slide into the starting rotation if an injury or a trade happens.
Al Alburquerque, Octavio Dotel and Brayan Villarreal will alternate between the sixth- and seventh-inning spots or pitch in extra innings if the closer has already gone.
Phil Coke and Joaquin Benoit will take turns as the setup men in the eighth inning.
Bruce Rondon has done enough to start the season as the closer.
The leash will be awfully short if Rondon struggles with his control again like he did earlier this spring, but he has done enough to come out of camp at least with the share of the job.
Designated Hitter and Other Options
Victor Martinez will be the everyday DH for the Tigers and could see time either at first base or behind the plate as Hunter, Fielder and Cabrera get an occasional day off from playing the field.
The Tigers will return Kyle Lobstein to the Tampa Bay Rays, as he is a Rule 5 pitcher that has had a horrible spring.
If the Tigers do go and break camp with 14 batters and 11 pitchers, both Kelly and Tuaisosopo will make the team while Drew Smyly will start the year as a starter in Toledo.
Smyly will make the club regardless if the Tigers trade Rick Porcello for a closer before the season gets going. If that happens, then Rondon will be demoted to make room.
Tuaisosopo will make the team over Kelly because Tuaisosopo is a better overall hitter. This spring, Tuaisosopo has a better batting average, .333 to .244, and a better slugging percentage, .733 to .561.
He is also six years younger.
As much as Jim Leyland loves players like Kelly, Tuaisosopo has earned a spot on the team.