Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe took on the task of ranking the top 10 MLB teams by overall roster quality (as perceived by him). The Detroit Tigers came in behind the Washington Nationals and Cincinnati Reds (both NL squads) for third overall, but he pegs them as the top team in the American League.
3. Detroit Tigers — You have to be feeling really good if you’re a Tiger. This is a lineup that doesn’t quit, with Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, the returning Victor Martinez, Jhonny Peralta, Alex Avila, Omar Infante, and Andy Dirks. There is a solid bench with an excellent backup catcher in Brayan Pena, infielder Ramon Santiago, and outfielders Quintin Berry andBrennan Boesch. The rotation is a strength, led by Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, and Rick Porcello. Peralta and Porcello could be dealt to improve shortstop defense and/or the bullpen. Right now, rookie Bruce Rondon is the closer, but Joaquin Benoit, Phil Coke, Al Alburquerque, and Octavio Dotel are right behind him.
Right behind the Tigers were the Los Angeles Angels and Toronto Blue Jays at fourth and fifth respectively. The only other AL team to be named to Cafardo’s top ten list was fellow Central Division member Kansas City Royals. He thinks their addition of James Shields will be enough to put them above the .500 mark and allow them to compete for playoff consideration.
Lists like this obviously mean very little. They’re subjective in nature and can’t fully take into account how all the pieces of the roster will eventually fit together. But, still, it’s encouraging to see an objective third-party rate the Tigers up there with the best teams in baseball.
We’re still a long way from opening day and injuries and additions could still change several rosters in significant fashion. Detroit will have to convert potential into wins which is something they struggled with for far too long a year ago. That is, as they say, why they play the games.