Doug Fister is key to Tigers meeting high expectations Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Through 24 Games, Tigers Only 1 Game Out Of First

In my first article for MCB, back in July, I spoke about expectations.  I stated that the Tigers were in fact meeting expectations but that the Indians hot start had adjusted the reactions of the fan base.  Of course, we all know what happened as the season progressed – the Tigers traded for Doug Fister, the bullpen and the offense clicked and the Tigers won the AL Central by a boatload of games.  Now, one month into 2012, people are once again jumping aboard the panic train.  Again, expectations need to be examined.  This 2012 Tigers team is almost exactly what we had in 2011 while substituting Prince Fielder for Victor Martinez.

In 2011 the Tigers were struggling at 2B and the OF corners in addition to a mystery spot in the rotation.  Fast-forward to today and you have the same issues, in addition to a catcher and shortstop having some bad luck.  The difference between 2011 and 2012 is that all that Tigers fans need to do is hope that players return to their career norms, not have career years.  Not only that, but in 2011 the Tigers had to trade for Doug Fister and had Brad Pennyin the #5 spot in the rotation.  In 2012, the Tigers just bring Fister off the DL instead of giving up value to acquire a pitcher and have a promising rookie in the #5 spot in the rotation.  The 2012 are positioned to perform better than the 2011 Tigers were.  It doesn’t mean that they WILL, it means that they COULD.

Major League Baseball is a long season and certain things will equal out.  The Tigers rotation will get better, the re-addition of Doug Fister almost guarantees this.  In addition to Fister, it is safe to assume that Max Scherzer will figure some things out and perform like a #3 or #4 SP…not a AAA pitcher mistakenly collecting a big league paycheck.  Alex Avila, while he may not perform up to last year’s standard, will certainly improve as his BABIP is quite low.  Jhonny Peralta has had a significant increase in his K rate, something is probably correctable.  Brennan Boesch has taken all of two walks so far.  That is certain to change.  In the previous two years his K/BB ration was under 2.5…this season it is at 11.5.  One has to think that he is pressing as his power has taken a significant dip as well.

The Tigers question marks at LF and 2B will likely remain for at least another month.  The possible remedies in LF seem to be a bit more evident (as detailed last week) than 2B where the cupboard is bare after Danny Worth.  Looking outside the organization, LF is also much easier to address as there just are not that many 2Bs (worth the trade cost) who figure to be on the trading block this year.

So, while I know that Tiger fans are anxious and they don’t feel this team is meeting expectations, the likelihood that the 2012 Tigers end up as AL Central Champions is still rather strong.  In addition to players meeting their career norms, one has to expect that Dave Dombrowski will be looking to improve this team at its weak spots given what has taken place over the last 12 months.

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Tags: Alex Avila Brennan Boesch Danny Worth Detroit Tigers Doug Fister Jhonny Peralta Max Scherzer Miguel Cabrera Prince Fielder Victor Martinez

  • ChrisHannum

    I’m not confident in Scherzer’s projectability right now – for a guy who has a tendency to let his mechanics get out of whack (or start to tip pitches) bad results aren’t due to bad luck.  I’d be more confident that Porcello’s have been due to luck.  If it’s luck, his next start should snap back to his own individual ‘true talent’ mean.  If it isn’t, it won’t, any more than a car that’s running rich will fix itself if you just keep driving.

  • valordesign

    I consider DD one of the better GMs in the game, thats why it is just confounding to me why he has let the 2nd base situation slip as much as he has. I think having a quality hitting 2nd Baseman is very under appreciated in the league. It is easier to find offensive production from the corner infield and and outfield on the market than it is at 2nd. Thats why it boggles my mind that the Tigers aren’t more aggressive in drafting them through the years. Instead they’ve drafted alot of relievers in the earlier rounds. I really feel a productive 2nd baseman is the final piece to put them at the Rangers level, who seems to be standing above everyone else right now.

    • Sam Genson

       @valordesign The problem is that 2B is perhaps the weakest position in baseball right now.  There just is not that much talent to go around.

      • valordesign

        Thats what I’m curious about though, if 2B is such a premium, why haven’t they drafted more middle infielders in the draft, especially in the higher rounds. The farm system seems barren with middle infield talent, and it seems like they have had a philosophy of drafting pitching first. However, last year, they did buck the trend and took almost all position players, but they still took a catcher with a mediocre bat with their first pick, with Avila and Brantly it doesn’t seem like there would be a need for.

        • Sam Genson

           @valordesign that is a great question…and I have no idea what the answer is

        • valordesign

           @Sam Genson Yeah, certain teams seem to nail it with the draft, the Nationals, Rays, Rangers, all seem to get great value and a variety of talent from even later rounds. The Tigers, not so much. Sure, they’ve made some great picks, Castellanos at 24th pick, they got Smyly in the second round, Boesch in the thrid, and Granderson in the third as well. But overall, they just don’t seem to as much value for their picks as the majority of other teams. Luckily, DD has been on it when it comes to trades lately.

        • valordesign

           @Sam Genson *44th pick