Detroit Tigers: Staff preseason predictions
By Andy Patton
Victor Martinez hits 20 or more home runs
Victor Martinez has hit 20 or more home runs seven times in his illustrious career, with two of those seasons coming in Detroit. While Martinez’s 2017 season (10 home runs, .255 average) was disappointing, a bounce-back from V-Mart seems plausible heading into his age-39 season. Martinez only hit 10 home runs last year, but his hard-hit rate was actually higher than it was in 2016, when he hit 27 round-trippers. His problem was his launch angle, as he saw his fly-ball rate drop to 34.2% in 2017.
If V-Mart can continue to hit the ball hard while increasing his fly ball percentage, there is no reason he can’t easily eclipse 20 home runs for the third time as a Tiger.
Nicholas Castellanos makes his first All-Star Game
Castellanos was a sabermetric darling last year, boasting an incredible 43.4% hard-hit rate and the tenth most ‘barreled’ baseballs in the league last year. The results were there, as Casty hit 26 home runs with 101 RBI and a .272 batting average. All this while learning to switch positions on the fly. Now, Castellanos is locked in as the everyday right fielder. He looks likely to move into the clean-up spot in Detroit, and this is the year he will complete his break through and make the AL All-Star team.
Christin Stewart outperforms Mikie Mahtook
This prediction is more apprehension about Mahtook’s ability to repeat his performance from last year. Mahtook has looked terrible this spring, and while that is not a major cause for concern, it does beg the question: How long of a leash does he have until they call someone else up?
Stewart is the likely beneficiary if Mahtook struggles. The 24-year-old power hitter will struggle defensively, but has worked hard to become an adequate left fielder. He has the potential to hit 25 home runs in the big leagues, and posts strong walk numbers as well.
I think Mahtook will struggle to match last season’s performance, and will be replaced midseason by Stewart, who will have a stronger second half.
Next is co-expert Adam McIntosh’s predictions: