The first pitch has yet to be thrown in the 2017 Detroit Tigers season, but there are already a signs that a few players are going to have mind-blowing seasons.
If these Detroit Tigers players can repeat what they did in the Grapefruit League, the team will make the playoffs.
Let’s take a look at the players who could carry the team to the playoffs in 2017:
There is some serious swagger emanating from Nicholas right now. From the tight pants to the open neck on his jersey, he’s looking fresh and ready for action. Along with the new style on the diamond, Castellanos also looks like he is ready to do damage to opposing pitchers’ WHIPs and ERAs. He finished spring training with an impressive slash line of .377/.424/.721 with a mind-blowing 1.146 OPS along with 4 home runs, 9 doubles, and 15 RBIs.
He also enters the 2017 season with extremely kind words from Al Kaline who believes he is one of the best defenders on the team. While Castellanos was expected by many to have a breakout season in 2016, he floundered in the middle of the season, then sat out the end with a broken hand. He looks ready to come back with a vengeance and could become one of the young leaders on the team.
Like Castellanos, Romine looked like a new man in spring training. While his style on the diamond didn’t change, his performance at the plate sure did. He made more contact than usual and ended spring training with a slash of .300/.315/.486 and an impressive OPS of .801. He played nearly every day finishing with 2 home runs, 5 doubles, and 1 triple. He knocked in 8 RBIs. Of course, his defensive play was exquisite which is why he will be sharing center field with rookie JaCoby Jones.
Throughout his career, he has been a quiet utility player who is already ready to take the field. But in 2017, he looks ready to make some noise. His switch-hitting capabilities will be valuable to the Tigers who only have Tigers who only have Alex Avila, Tyler Collins, and Victor Martinez who swing from the south side.
After fighting for the fifth starting spot, Boyd is going to show why he deserved it. Of the five starters, Boyd finished spring training with the lowest ERA – 2.10 and WHIP – 1.01. He pitched in 25.2 innings allowing 25 hits and giving up 6 runs and 1 walk. Yes, these are notable stats, but the two that were even better were his number of strikeouts and home runs allowed. He threw 23 strikeouts and did not give up any home runs.
Boyd pitched in the same amount of innings as Justin Verlander and their stats were close. Verlander gave up four home runs and pitched four fewer strikeouts. Strangely, the only pitcher with more strikeouts was Anibal Sanchez.
If Boyd can keep these numbers up, he will be a serious force and will work his way up the rotation into the third spot behind JV and Michael Fulmer.
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It is hard to forget the last half of Upton’s 2016 season. After a brief discussion with David Ortiz, Upton’s bat found the ball, over and over and over again. As the only sure thing in the outfield right now, he is going to have to take on a leadership role in left field and at the plate. He finished 2016 with 31 home runs and he finished spring training with 5, which lead the team. Notably, he did not lead the team in strikeouts during spring training. Alex Avila had 20 strikeouts in 43 at-bats and Mikie Mahtook had 21 of them 64 at-bats. Upton had 13 in 64 at-bats.
While he’s no wonderboy in the outfield, he is consistent. In 137 innings playing in the Grapefruit League this spring, he made one error. Not too bad, not too bad at all.
Of course, Tigers fans have come to expect great things from Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, and Ian Kinsler. But, if Castellanos, Romine, Boyd, and Upton can do great things, the Tigers could play more than a game or two of October baseball.