2. Defense Makes Up For Offense
Poor postseason aside, Prince Fielder was still a formidable offensive threat last season, and the Tigers are going to miss having him in the lineup. But just as much as Fielder, they’re going to miss the offensive contributions of Omar Infante and Jhonny Peralta, who were among the best hitters at their respective positions a season ago.
The loss of Infante will be made up for by the addition of Ian Kinsler, but the Tigers are going to have to hope that the flashy glove of Jose Iglesias can make up for his weak bat, that Nick Castellanos can figure out a way to improve on the defensive (in)abilities of Miguel Cabrera, and that Cabrera can prove to be a better first baseman than Fielder.
It’s not entirely impossible that the 2014 Tigers could outhit the 2013 Tigers — Alex Avila could put together a full season like his second half, Andy Dirks could rebound, Nick Castellanos could be the bat we hoped he’d be, and Austin Jackson could cut down on the strikeouts and find more ways to get on base, but the odds are long that all of those things come together in the best case scenario.
The more likely scenario (though still not a sure-thing) is that the Tigers show an improved defense (particularly on the infield) to make up for the (almost) inevitable decline in offense. Detroit hasn’t had a particularly balanced team in a number of years, typically forgoing defensive prowess for thundering sluggers. The 2014 club still appears to favor offense, but they have a chance to be a more balanced club than we’ve seen the last couple of years.
Offense is fun — it probably puts more butts in the seats than sound defense does — but the hope for 2014 is that the gloves can save a few more runs than they did in the past, and hopefully make for some of the runs that were lost this offseason.