The AL Central is full of intriguing players and those “in the know” at ESPN think that the Detroit Tigers have the second and fourth most intriguing players in the division. They also think that the Tigers have the most intriguing owner, too.
While the Tigers have been consistently named a middle-of-the-road team by the media in the offseason, this little nod shows that the Tigers are worth noticing. (Of course, we fans already knew that.)
The player they named the second-most intriguing player in the AL Central was Justin Upton. He was sandwiched between their top choice Miguel Sano of the Minnesota Twins and the third-place choice Lorenzo Cain with the Kansas City Royals.
During their conversation about Upton, David Schoenfield and Eric Karabell with ESPN discussed Mike Ilitch as the most intriguing owner. They discussed how every year is a need-to-win year, and it has been that way for over a decade. Their conversation moved into how the Tigers lost in 2015 because of pitching, but even with the signings in the off-season, they are still not convinced that Detroit has what it takes to content. They used the same argument about age and how Kinsler, Cabrera, etc., are on the decline because of their age.
Then, two players later, they named 33-year-old Justin Verlander the fourth most intriguing player. And, the most intriguing pitcher in the division. Naming Verlander an intriguing player right after discussing Cabrera and Kinsler’s ages makes no sense. Cabrera is two months younger and Kinsler is eight months older than JV.
Schoenfield and Karabell felt that Upton was intriguing for a handful of reasons, but mostly because he is durable and can hit home runs. They also liked the fact that he is only 28 years old. The Tigers actually have another outfielder who is 28, durable, and can hit home runs, too. J.D. Martinez actually hit more home runs that Upton and Martinez played in more games. While I am thoroughly interested in seeing what Upton brings to the team, I am also intrigued by the possibility that Martinez has the ability to have an even better year than 2015. Have you seen how fit he is looking?
When it comes to Justin Verlander as an intriguing player, Schoenfield and Karabell are completely correct. With the way that JV finished the 2015 season and the way he is feeling, baseball fans all over the country will be watching the former MVP, All-Star, and Cy Young winner. Just a few days ago, JV said: “I don’t want to say it was night and day from last year. Spring training last year, I felt pretty good but, right now, it feels the best I can remember in a long time.”
Thank you ESPN, for actually getting it right. The two Justins are two very good reasons to pay attention to the Tigers in 2016. But, don’t neglect the other players on the roster – Detroit is bringing it this season.