Before the 2011 season, Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, Scott Miller of CBSSports.com, and Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com all predicted that the Detroit Tigers would finish 2011 in third place in the American League Central Division behind the Chicago White Sox and the Minnesota Twins. Likewise, none of Tim Brown, Steve Henson, and Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports had them finishing better than second in the division.
A panel of reporters, broadcasters, and former players polled by MLB.com tabbed the Twins as the likely division champions.
Only six of 45 predictions by writers and analysts on ESPN’s staff had the Tigers reaching the playoffs; those six favorable predictions came from Jason Churchill (ESPN Insider), Richard Durrett (ESPNDallas.com), Gordon Edes (ESPNBoston.com), Jayson Stark (ESPN.com), Peter Pascarelli (ESPN), and Gene Wojciechowski (ESPN.com). Edes and Wojciechowski had them as the AL Wild Card.
Basically, members of the national media who had the foresight to accurately assess the 2011 Detroit Tigers are few and far between.
Of course, who would have predicted this? Justin Verlander has far exceeded expectations and vaulted himself far in front of all other Cy Young contenders and even into the MVP conversation. Jhonny Peralta and Victor Martinez are having career years–though it’s unlikely many across the country, other than followers of teams in the Central, could tell you that. Alex Avila, in his second full major-league season, has firmly established himself as one of the finest all-around catchers in baseball. Questions surrounded Miguel Cabrera before the season, but he quickly put to rest the notion that he would allow his off-season issues to affect his on-field performance. Jose Valverde has been perfect in 46 save opportunities to lead the bullpen. On top of all that, the Tigers’ front office proved willing to do anything it would take to ascend to the top of the standings by adding Doug Fister, Delmon Young, Wilson Betemit, and David Pauley to an already capable squad.
It’s been a good year for baseball in the Motor City. Hopefully it keeps up well into October.
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