5 Reasons the Detroit Tigers Will Win the AL Central in 2011
The Tigers are in a tight race this year with the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox for the AL Central title. I think the Tigers will claim their first central title since 1987. I think there are five main reasons why the Tigers will come out on top in this division race.
1. Justin Verlander
The Tigers ace is on pace to have a Cy Young and possibly a MVP award to add to his shelf, but more important to Verlander is reaching the playoffs. Verlander has about eight more starts this year, and I would bet he'll win at least six of those starts. While the rest of the rotation will be needed (more on that in a minute), the Tigers know they have an above average chance to win every time Verlander steps on the mound.
2. Miguel Cabrera
The Tigers are lucky to have two players who should be in the MVP talk. While Cabrera hasn't put up the numbers some would expect, he has, and will, carry the Tigers offensively down the stretch run. The Tigers will need Cabrera to provide offense on a nightly basis if they are going to be able to pick up wins for the back half of the rotation.
3. Jose Valverde
Valverde is 36-for-36 in save opportunities, and is the type of pitcher the Tigers can rely on to close out victories. The bullpen has had issues, and the Tigers will need the rest of the 'pen to step it up. Having an elite closer gives the Tigers the advantage in close games.
4. Delmon Young
Young will finish the season like he did last year: strong. With Brennan Boesch in front and Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez behind him, Young will get opportunities to see decent pitches and get on base. Young also has good power which, next to good pitching, wins baseball games.
5. Brandon Inge
Yes, I know half of you just swore, or threw your computer. However, I think Inge will hit better than he has, and his defense will be critical—especially in games where Doug Fister and Rick Porcello pitch. It will be as a late defensive replacement that Inge will have the biggest positive impact.
The Tigers will win the central—they have the pieces, they have the guts and they have five guys who will guide them to their first AL Central title, and hopefully a long playoff run.
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