Are the 2016 Detroit Tigers the best team in years? According to Victor Martinez, the answer is yes.
In an article by Chris McCosky with The Detroit News, Martinez claims that this squad is the best team he played on – ever. Considering that V-Mart has played for 13 years and has been to the post-season five times with three different organizations, his opinion is a serious vote of confidence.
Martinez is a media favorite because he never sugar coats his comments, he truly tells it like it is. According to Martinez (and his numbers back it up), 2015 was his worst year ever in baseball. It was the only year in his history that he recorded a negative oWAR. Regarding his arrival and practices in Lakeland, he commented to McCosky, saying: “I can tell the difference. It’s a lot different than last year, for sure. I can do stuff. Last year I couldn’t do anything.”
For fans who have been waiting for an update on Martinez, this is outstanding news. There is no doubt that V-Mart will be a key player in the race for the postseason both on the field and in the clubhouse.
Is this the best Detroit Tigers team in over 13 years? Possibly. On paper, it certain is a team that is built to win. Much has been said about the players staying healthy; but in reality, this is an issue that plagues every team. As the Tigers saw in 2015, young players like Shane Greene and Daniel Norris can get hurt just as quickly as the veteran players like V-Mart and Miguel Cabrera.
Martinez commented on what the Justin Upton signing did to the team. His average of 95 runs scored in a season is a big improvement over the 18 runs that Tyler Collins scored in his 60 games in left field in 2015. Of course adding Jordan Zimmermann, Mark Lowe, Francisco Rodriguez, and Mike Aviles were powerful moves, but the J-Up signing was the last piece of the puzzle.
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Despite the poor season the Tigers had in 2015, there were glimmers of hope that can certainly carry over into the 2016 season. Cabrera, despite missing nearly a month, managed to have the best batting average in the AL. James McCann committed zero errors as a rookie catcher. J.D. Martinez finished 8th in the AL home run battle hitting 28 dingers. Justin Verlander had one of the worst season starts in his career but he finished the season with a 1.088 WHIP – his third lowest in his career. Ian Kinsler also had a notable season hitting .296, his highest batting average since 2008 when he hit .319; he also had his second highest number of hits – 184. All of these men are back and feeling good.
Add to this the fact that the bullpen has been seriously upgraded and that there actually is a pitching rotation, V-Mart’s analysis of the team cannot be far off. Martinez knows what he is talking about. He was on the DL for all of 2012 when the Tigers last went to the World Series and he was a part of the 2013 team that lost in the AL series to the Red Sox. Those two teams had a similar pitching rotation led by Verlander and Max Scherzer. But, the two teams also had weak spots like Andy Dirks, Jose Valverde, and Omar Infante.
Right now, it is difficult to find a weak spot anywhere on the 2016 roster. And, even if there is one, there is a backup player who can fill the spot without cause for worry.