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Offense Will Again Drive Tigers

March 17, 2008 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Edgar Renteria will improve the Tigers' defense.
New Tiger shortstop Edgar Renteria should provide a boost to the pitching staff with his stellar glovework. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

No one doubts that the Detroit Tigers will score their share of runs this season, but if this team has designs on returning to the postseason after sliding last year, much of it will rest in the hands of the rotation and bullpen.

Let’s deal with what we know first. Detroit was second in the AL last year in batting, runs and slugging percentage. Clearly, this lineup can rake, and with Miguel Cabrera and Edgar Renteria now included, it’s going to be an even more potent attack.

Leading off is Curtis Granderson, who last year became just the third major leaguer (and first since Willie Mays) to put up at least 20 homers, 20 doubles, 20 triples and 20 steals in one season. He also hit .300 and ranked third in the AL in runs scored. Oh, did we mention it was just his second full season? By the way, Ivan Rodriguez will lead off against lefties, with Granderson, who struggles against southpaws, batting eighth or ninth.

Placido Polanco, coming off a career year, bats second. He’s one of the best contact hitters in the game, and just enjoyed his first 100-run, 200-hit season.

Gary Sheffield, who had a strong recovery last year, bats third. Although his days as a .300 hitter appear over, he’s still a feared slugger and top run producer.

Batting cleanup is Magglio Ordonez, who again stayed healthy last year while enjoying one of his finest power seasons.

Newcomer Cabrera bats fifth, bringing his stupendous batting averages and fantastic slugging over from the Marlins. Still just 24, would it be shocking to see him make a legitimate run at the Triple Crown soon, especially in this lineup?

Batting sixth is Carlos Guillen, who enjoyed another excellent season, as some of his doubles turned into homers. The patience he showed in 2006 deteriorated somewhat, however, taking his BA down under .300 after two straight .320 seasons.

Guillen is followed by Renteria, I-Rod and Jacque Jones.

This team will make a mockery of a lot of AL pitching staffs. But, will the pitching support the offense?

The Tigers finished 11th in the American League in quality starts last year, a figure that simply must go up to protect a bullpen already without the injured Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney, and also still missing Francisco Cruteca (visa problems). Relying on Todd Jones to once again defy the odds seems a sketchy proposition.

Opening Day starter Justin Verlander will be great, but the Tigers need a major bounce back from inconsistent Jeremy Bonderman, who scuffled badly in the second half last year. They will also need lefty Kenny Rogers to stay healthy and rebounds from fellow lefties, newcomer Dontrelle Willis and holdover Nate Robertson. Willis is already complaining about forearm soreness, so that’s not a good sign. He says he’s fine, but I’d monitor this situation.

Certainly improved defense, thanks to the addition of Renteria at short (a move that allowed the team to shift Guillen over to first base), will help the pitching staff.

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6 Responses to “Offense Will Again Drive Tigers”

  1. estsn says:

    There’s a few real x-factors in there, but the Tigers have the potential to be scary good this year – maybe even challenging the Red Sox for the AL lead.

    Will Willis rebound from the last few years of declining performance, or will the AL hitting eat him alive? I’ll know soon – he was a late rounds “what the hell” pick for my fantasy team.

    Man did I want Cabrera, but I opted for Reyes in the first round. In retrospect I’m wishing I had taken Cabrera or Wright.

  2. RotoRob says:

    The bullpen depth concerns me, as does the potential fragility of the rotation.

    Yes, Willis is a major X-factor. You’ve got to figure switching leagues will stead him well at least the first time through, but after that, it will take some legitimate improvements to maintain any gains he experiences.

    Hard to go wrong with Reyes, even though so many seem to have soured on him for whatever reason.

  3. estsn says:

    I’m not fully soured on Reyes, but I was thinking after the draft that other than the steals he really doesn’t bring as much fantasy value in any category as Wright or Cabrera.

    One thing’s for sure – I’ll be kicking myself if Cabrera does challenge for the triple crown,

    PS- if Willis burns one time through the AL like it was 2005 I’ll be a very happy guy.

  4. RotoRob says:

    True enough, but Reyes will sure help you in runs, and it’s reasonable to assume his BA will bounce back a bit. Also, he has decent pop for a SS.

  5. [...] this team supposed to score 1,000 runs this season? We sure expected the sticks to lead the way for this club. However, the Tigers are dead last in the AL in BA, runs, slugging and OPS. Perhaps it will be [...]

  6. [...] falling from grace, what a precipitous slide it’s been for Jacque Jones. This time last season, we were expecting him to be part of what was supposed to be a historic Tiger lineup. After 24 horrible games in Detroit, he was released. Jones would up in Florida by May, but was [...]

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