Detroit Tigers: Victor Martinez, Anibal Sanchez Can Rebound
With the 2015 calendar year now in the books, it is only natural to look forward to what 2016 will bring for the Detroit Tigers. Last year was a rough one for the Tigers, but this new year comes with much more promise.
While success isn’t a certainty, it is certainly expected given the team’s recent offseason additions. New general manager Al Avila moved quickly to fill a number of needs for the Tigers. The team now has a much more positive outlook in the rotation and in the bullpen thanks to the new additions.
Much of the failures in 2015 were due to inconsistency and injuries. A number of Detroit players struggled last season, including usual stalwarts Victor Martinez and Anibal Sanchez. Each player has had great success in a Tigers’ uniform. Martinez finished second in MVP voting in 2014, while Sanchez won an ERA crown in 2013. Both have also been key cogs in Detroit’s recent winning seasons. The team will need the duo to bounce back next season. Luckily, that doesn’t seem like to far-fetched of a proposition.
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The 37-year-old designated hitter may have had his worst season as a Major-League player last year. Martinez hit .245 with 11 home runs and 64 RBI in 120 contests. Before that season, the man known as “V-Mart” had never posted a batting average below the .270 mark. After leading the league in OPS in 2014 with a .974 number, Martinez posted a comparatively meager .667 OPS last year.
The good news is that the veteran returns to a loaded lineup that will see him hit between two of the game’s premier sluggers in Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez.
Add in the continued development and improvement of Nick Castellanos and James McCann, not to mention the addition of Cameron Maybin, and Victor Martinez has the chance to post strong offensive numbers in 2016. The fact that Martinez has hit above .300 in seven of his 13 seasons in the bigs, including the last four leading up to 2015, is also encouraging.
After posting a 22-13 record with a sparkling 2.92 earned run average and a 2.52 FIP, Sanchez struggled last season. The 2015 season saw the right-handed pitcher post a comparatively ugly 4.99 ERA (4.73) in addition to an increase in walks and hits.
However, the biggest culprit in Sanchez’ down season was an increased number of home runs allowed. Opposing batters hit 29 home runs off the former Marlin last season. From 2012 to 2014, the right-hander only gave up a combined 33 home runs. That included the 2013 season when Sanchez posted the lowest number of home runs allowed per-nine innings in the league. That number was 0.4.
By simply cutting down on the home runs (easier said than done), Sanchez has the chance to be a much more effective pitcher in 2016, not to mention one with a significantly lower ERA.
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If Martinez and Sanchez can bounce back and produce strong seasons in 2016, the Detroit Tigers will be much closer to contending for a World Series title.