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Detroit Tigers: Staff preseason predictions

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JULY 23: Victor Martinez #41 of the Detroit Tigers hits an RBI single against the Minnesota Twins during the ninth inning of the game on July 23, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Tigers 9-6. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JULY 23: Victor Martinez #41 of the Detroit Tigers hits an RBI single against the Minnesota Twins during the ninth inning of the game on July 23, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Tigers 9-6. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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DETROIT, MI – AUGUST 11: Shortstop Jose Iglesias #1 of the Detroit Tigers tags out Jorge Polanco #11 of the Minnesota Twins trying to steal second base during the third inning at Comerica Park on August 11, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI – AUGUST 11: Shortstop Jose Iglesias #1 of the Detroit Tigers tags out Jorge Polanco #11 of the Minnesota Twins trying to steal second base during the third inning at Comerica Park on August 11, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /

Jose Iglesias will be traded

Iglesias agreed to a one-year deal this offseason to avoid arbitration, but will be a free agent following the season. He’s one of many Detroit Tigers who have shown up in trade rumors, and it makes sense for him to be dealt. Better to get something instead of losing him for nothing after the season.

Dawel Lugo will be the everyday second baseman by August

An Iglesias trade would open the door for Lugo to come up and play every day. Lugo was acquired in the J.D. Martinez trade, and hit a combined .277 with 13 homers and 65 RBI in his two Double-A stops last year.

Lugo possesses the ability to play any of the infield spots, so he could be a straight replacement for Iglesias, or could slot in at second with Dixon Machado moving to shortstop.

Even if for some reason Iglesias doesn’t get traded, Lugo could be promoted to replace Machado. If Machado struggles in his first extended look as an everyday player, Lugo could take over at second, and Machado could return to his former role as a utility player.

The Tigers will win 70 games

Detroit went 64-98 last year, underperforming their Pythagorean record by three wins. The offense should be improved with Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez seemingly healthy, and Nicholas Castellanos looking primed to take the next step.

On the pitching side, the Detroit Tigers were at or near the bottom of the league in several pitching categories. Matt Boyd, Daniel Norris, and Jordan Zimmerman all had ERAs nearly a run higher than their FIP, suggesting some bad luck. Even the slightest improvements on the pitching side should lead to a few more wins.

Finally there’s the Ron Gardenhire factor. Gardenhire continuously got the most out of his young players in Minnesota and can do the same here. It won’t lead to a playoff appearance or a .500 record this year, but he is a better fit for this team than Brad Ausmus was.

Next: Using Baseball-Reference to predict 2018 performance

The fun part about predictions is that truly anything can happen. While a few of us are bound to hit on some of these, 162 games is a lot of baseball. Starting Thursday, all bets are off.

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