Detroit Tigers 2018 Season Preview
It wasn’t hard to see the changes coming. After finishing with the lowest win total in the American League (and tying for the least wins in all of Major League Baseball), and surrendering a staggering 894 runs last year (also worst in the big leagues), it would’ve been a bigger surprise if the team didn’t make any changes.
The offseason hires for the Tigers
In the offseason, Detroit hired manager Ron Gardenhire to manage the team as a replacement for Brad Ausmus. Unsurprisingly, Detroit also brought in a whole slew of new assistant coaches, including Chris Bosio as the new pitching coach, Ramón Santiago at first-base coach, Phil Clark as an assistant hitting coach, Rick Anderson as the bullpen coach, Steve Liddle as a bench coach, and Joe Vavra as a quality control coach.
But wait there’s more!
But the coaching staff wasn’t the only place there was a housecleaning. The team oved on from J.D. Martinez, Justin Wilson, Alex Avila, Justin Verlander, and Justin Upton over the course of last season, and then trade Ian Kinsler to the Los Angeles Angels. It might not be long before Michael Fulmer, Jose Iglesias, and Nicholas Castellanos are gone as well.
Point being: fans of this team shouldn’t try and get attached to anyone on the roster, because the demolition job to this group isn’t anywhere near over yet.
The stayers of note
Of course, there are still a few big names left that shouldn’t be going anywhere soon. Miguel Cabrera will be in Cooperstown someday, and he’ll be in the Motor City for the foreseeable future (though he is 34 years old and battled back issues for much of last year). Third baseman Nicholas Castellanos endured his own set of personal trials and tribulations last year, but led the league with 10 triples in 2017, and set personal bests for home runs (26) and RBI (101).
Victor Martinez’ season was cut short due to a scary heart condition, but he’ll return to the lineup as a designated hitter. James McCann is still the guy behind the plate, and the pitching rotation still has Jordan Zimmerman, Daniel Norris, and Matt Boyd.
The shining stars
If you’re looking on the bright side, Detroit has four of the top 100 prospects in the big leagues in Franklin Perez, Matt Manning, Alex Faedo, and Beau Burrows. All of them are right-handed pitchers who could contribute to the lineup at some point.
Two other prospects of interest include Daz Cameron and Jake Rogers, who came to Detroit in exchange for Verlander. Cameron’s father was former big league outfielder Mike Cameron, and he inherited his father’s good genes; the younger Cameron has outstanding speed and defensive ability, and isn’t too shabby at the plate, either. Rogers is still considered one of the better defensive prospects at Catcher, and is another guy with a promising bat.
Saturday’s scheduled game against the New York Yankees has been postponed due to inclement weather. The game has been rescheduled as part of a split doubleheader on Sunday, April 15, with the first game beginning at 1:10 PM. and the second game starting at 7:10 PM. All paid tickets from today’s game are valid for entry for the second game of tomorrow’s split doubleheader. No ticket exchange is necessary. Fans unable to attend the rescheduled game may exchange their unused tickets at any times for any future similar-or-lesser priced regular season game in the next 12 months, excluding Opening Day 2019.
The projections of the year
Clearly, this is a team in transition, and the advanced analytics represent that. Most projections have the Tigers winning no more than 70 games this year. 2018 is going to be about sorting through all the young guys they have, and possibly putting themselves in a position to get even more of them.