Detroit Tigers 2016 Team Preview

The Detroit Tigers had one of the most disappointing seasons in the league in 2015. They've had the star studded lineup for a while now and it just hasn't panned out, but they were particularly bad last year. One of the glaring weaknesses was finally addressed this offseason when Detroit brought in three stud relievers.  Another thing Tigers fans can be excited about is the acquisition of star outfielder Justin Upton. Overall it looks like this Tigers team should have all the elements of a team who can compete for a division title in 2016.

Listen to Tyler talk to Nate Braam about the Tigers

Key additions

Justin Upton, Jordan Zimmerman, Francisco Rodirguez, Mark Lowe, Justin Wilson, Cameron Maybin, Mike Pelfrey, Mike Aviles, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, John Mayberry Jr, Tommy Field, Nate Shierholtz, Logan Kensing, Preston Guilmet, Drake Britton, Lendy Castillo

Key Subtractions

Rajai Davis, Al Alburquerque, Alex Avila, Luis Cessa, Gabe Speier, Ian Krol, Josh Wilson, Neftali Feliz, Tom Gorzelanny, Joe Nathan, Randy Wolf, Kyle Lobstein, Chad Green, Javier Betancourt, Guido Knudson

Biggest Strength - Top 5 lineup in the league

If you follow baseball at all, you know the Tigers have one of the best lineups in the league anchored by one of the best hitters of his generation Miguel Cabrera. This season the heart of the lineup is going to be 4 players deep with Upton likely to hit second, followed by Cabrera, the Victor Martinez and JD Martinez. On top of that you got one of the best leadoff guys in the league in Ian Kinsler to lead things off. This is a recipe for success. Calling them a top five lineup is probably conservative because if things click early and often for them, they could compete with Toronto to be the best lineup in all of baseball. The only thing this team is missing is a legitimate lefty bat to divide up all these righties.

Biggest Weakness - Lack of a left handed bat

They filled their hole that was easy to point out each of the past few seasons when they picked up Francisco Rodriguez, Mark Lowe and Justin Wilson to finish close games out. The only clear visible weakness on paper at this point is a small one and it's the fact that they don't really have a lefty who can divide up all their right handed power in the middle of the lineup. This puts a lot of pressure on switch hitter Victor Martinez, who is beginning to get up there in age and had a pretty bad season in 2015. At the end of the day, this shouldn't be an issue they can't overcome.

Something to Keep an Eye on - Revamped Bullpen

Hypothetically, this bullpen looks like it could be fixed. The reality is that you have three brand new guys who haven't proved themselves in a Tigers uniform yet. The moves look very solid, but something about the fact that Detroit always has issues closing out games means that until it starts happening for real, you can't count it as fixed. For the Tigers' sake, hopefully the problems were with the actual pitchers and aren't coaching problems or systematic problems involving the bullpen. Only time will tell.

Getty Images
Getty Images

Projected Lineup… *=Lefty, ^=Switch Hitter

  1. Ian Kinsler - 2B
  2. Justin Upton - LF
  3. Miguel Cabrera - 1B
  4. Victor Martinez^ - DH
  5. JD Martinez - RF
  6. Nick Castellanos - 3B
  7. James McCann - C
  8. Jose Iglesias - SS
  9. Anthony Gose* - CF

Projected Bench

Jarrod Saltalamacchia^

Andrew Romine^

Tyler Collins*

Mike Aviles

Projected Rotation

  1. Justin Verlander
  2. Jordan Zimmerman
  3. Anibal Sanchez
  4. Daniel Norris*
  5. Mike Pelfrey

Projected Bullpen

Francisco Rodriguez - Closer

Mark Lowe

Justin Wilson*

Bruce Rondon

Blaine Hardy*

Angel Nesbitt

Drew VerHagen

Injured to start the year

Cameron Maybin

Alex Wilson

Fantasy Bargain - Justin Verlander

People are down on Verlander after his 2 years of pitching terribly. Time for said people to realize that he has pitched himself to multiple Cy Young awards and an MVP in the somewhat recent past. Perhaps Justin was distracted by a Kate Upton and leaked pictures a little bit in most recent years, but in the second half of last season, Verlander pitched well. He says he's fully healthy for the first time in a long time and the trend looks like he's ready to begin 2016 on the right foot. Don't be scared to draft him like we have been the past two seasons.

Overvalued Fantasy Option - Jordan Zimmerman

Zimmerman is a great pitcher, he's just one of those guys who is so much better in real life than he is in fantasy. The best strategy is to understand that going in to the draft and let someone else be excited to take him. If you are ever drafting guys for wins and ERA, your strategy for drafting pitchers has flaws. People who make your fantasy team should have a minimum strikeout rate, and that rate should be several notches higher than what Zimmerman provides. Also, he's transitioning from the NL to the AL, so there's that.

Conclusion/Season Prediction

This Tigers team is better than they were last year. It looks like Verlander has finally gotten healthy so they should have the good version of him all year, plus they get a full year of Upton to boost the offense. A wildcard to watch for is Victor Martinez. If he returns to form, he could make Detroit the best offense in the league in 2016.  Overall, this team should win 80 games or more. Even with all the improvements they have made, the rest of the division improved just as much if not more. They do have a chance to compete for the division, but the world champion Royals will be there again and the Indians look ready to contend with their elite pitching staff as well.