While the Tigers have a few questions going into the off-season, one of them is not in the outfield. However, with all of the speculation swirling around the newly-defected phenom Yoennis Cespedes, one has to wonder if his skill set could put Detroit over the top in the American League.
There is no doubt that Cespedes has the potential to have an immediate impact on whatever team he plays for.
Here are five reasons why the Detroit Tigers should be that team.
First off, let me say that I truly believe Austin Jackson has the talent to be a great player in this league. However, even though it is only his second season in the majors, he lacks the consistency at this point in his career to truly help the Tigers.
Even during his best season one year ago, Jackson still struck out 170 times. His numbers after the recent season should give the Tigers something to be wary of.
Cespedes would be an amazing addition to an already powerful Detroit lineup. At 26 years old, Cespedes has managed to put up amazing numbers year in and year out. His batting average has stayed upwards of .300, including hitting .333 during 90 games last season, and his on-base percentage is north of .400 almost every season.
With his ability to get on base and his range in the outfield, Cespedes could be a definite upgrade over current center fielder Austin Jackson.
This would also allow the Tigers to use Jackson as a pivotal trade piece in their search for a second baseman during the off-season.
While it is evident that the Tigers have one of the most potent offenses in the Majors, it is true that they still have some major flaws that need to be addressed.
One of those flaws happens to be speed. The Tigers do not have it.
During the 2011 season, the Tigers accumulated a total of 48 stolen bases. To put that into perspective, Michael Bourn, Coco Crisp and Brett Gardner all out-stole the entire Tigers team during 2011.
Because of the Tigers' definite "need for speed," one could make the argument to both sign Cespedes and keep Austin Jackson. Even though this will surely create controversy for Detroit in center field, it also gives the Tigers two very fast and athletic players.
This move gives the Tigers two legitimate stolen base threats, as well as two incredible defensive players in the outfield.
The Tigers are one of the few teams in the league who do not have major concerns with their offense. After boasting the fourth-ranked offense in the Majors during the 2011 season with all their key players returning, the Tigers do not have to look far for improvement.
However, Cespedes could provide a huge lift at key points in the lineup. First of all, the Tigers could try him out at leadoff, considering Jackson's struggles throughout the season.
It is safe to assume, however, that Leyland will continue his faith in Jackson and leave him in the number one spot.
With Ordonez's departure all but certain, that leaves the number two spot open in the lineup. This could be a great spot for Cespedes, considering his on-base percentage and speed. With Boesch, Cabrera, Martinez and Peralta all behind him, those four would have even more RBI opportunities.
There is no question that Cespedes would immediately make Detroit's offense even more feared than they are currently.
Let's be honest; right now, there is no other team better than the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central.
With all of the Tigers' major contributors from 2011 returning, there is no question that they are the team to beat in the division. The addition of Cespedes would make a repeat of the AL Central title all but certain.
Most of the teams in the AL Central, with the exception of the Kansas City Royals, are continually getting worse.
The White Sox are looking to unload a lot of their players to almost start over with their new manager taking over. Adam Dunn and Alex Rios must play better for the White Sox to have any shot at doing anything during next season.
The Indians have recently resigned Grady Sizemore to a one-year deal, but he does not make them much better than they are now. While they had a great start to last season, it is not reasonable to assume that their players can continue that success again. They will play hard, but they are no competition to the Tigers.
The Minnesota Twins are completely on the backs of both Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. If they are able to put together a better 2012 season than this past season, the Twins have a chance to give the Tigers some problems. They lack true depth in their pitching rotation, and that is a weakness that the Tigers will feed upon.
Finally, the Kansas City Royals are the rising team in Major League Baseball. With the amount of young talent they have, they will be making some noise during 2012. However, they lack experience to win a division right now.
They will have the opportunity to play spoiler to a number of teams near the end of the season, though. The Royals will not sneak up on anyone during the 2012 season.
Because the Tigers are already the dominant team in the Central Division, the addition of a dynamic young player like Cespedes would make them almost unbeatable.
Everyone saw the Tigers' amazing run at a World Series title in 2011. While they proved to be better than the New York Yankees, their weaknesses made national news during the ALCS.
The Tigers had no answer for the Rangers' pitching staff. Likewise, their hitters, especially Nelson Cruz, did their jobs and got on base when given the opportunity. Detroit struggled to get runners on base throughout the series. At the same time, they had trouble getting runners in when they had the chance.
Therefore, the Tigers need to make a move that shows the players and the fans that they are committed to winning right now. The signing of Gerald Laird, while necessary, does not make this team much better than they are now. While it will allow Martinez to get rest and strictly be a DH, it does not add any offensive firepower.
Because of this, the Detroit Tigers should definitely take the chance and sign Yoennis Cespedes to a deal soon. Excitement around Detroit would be at an all-time high, as well as expectations. They would immediately become the team to beat in the American League.