The Tigers fell short, once again, of a World Series championship ring. Forgive me for not wanting to relive those moments, as I am a resident of Detroit and an avid Tigers fan. I will just say, thank you, Jim Leyland, for everything you have done for the organization and for the city. We truly appreciate your work and wish you all the best. You will be missed.
Onwards and upwards! The Brad Ausmus era has begun in Detroit and only time will tell how that will pan out. I hope Ausmus can get the Tigers over the hump and deliver a championship ring to the city of Detroit.
Now, let's take a look at the top 5 fantasy players for the Detroit Tigers.
1. Miguel Cabrera
Was there ever any question? Quite possibly, the best hitter to ever grace a baseball diamond, Miguel Cabrera is not only the #1 fantasy player for the Tigers, he's either #1 or #2 overall in any fantasy format. I recently had the #1 pick in the early mock that Ray has been keeping you up to date on, and I chose Mike Trout over Cabrera. Cabrera is 30, Trout is 22, there's my reasoning (as well as Trout's 5-tool capabilities and Cabrera's injury history). As I just mentioned, Miggy has injury concerns and it was injuries that kept him from being 100% as we saw this season. He could have had his second straight triple crown season if it weren't for those injuries (and a certain Chris Davis).
2. Max Scherzer
Can the Tigers keep him? Will the Tigers keep him? As of right now, we don't know, but many will tell you that there's no chance he stays. I'm going to tell you there is a chance. Why? Because Mike Illitch. End of story. If he wants him back (and there's no reason why he wouldn't), Illitch will find a way to make it work. Max finished the season with a 2.90 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 240 K's and a blistering 21-3 record. Scherzer led the AL in WHIP and ranked 3rd overall in the Majors behind only Matt Harvey (0.93) and Clayton Kershaw (0.92). Scherzer pitched 36 more innings than Harvey, but I digress. I don't think he will replicate those numbers, and he will most likely be taken far too early because of his ridiculous season, but Max Scherzer is the real deal.
3. Justin Verlander
Verlander took a back seat to Scherzer this year as Mad Max put together a Cy Young season. Verlander struggled all season and was not the Verlander we had come to expect. It wasn't until the playoffs where we saw the real Justin Verlander come back and pitch lights out. I have full confidence that we will see Verlander come back strong next season and return to the dominant pitcher we've grown to know and love. Verlander still had a respectable season, many pitchers would kill to finish their season with the stats Verlander had. He finished with a 3.46 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 217 K's and a 13-12 record.
4. Prince Fielder
Prince frustrated many Tigers fans this season as he failed to live up to his power numbers. Fielder had six straight seasons of 30+ home runs, but, that streak came to a screeching halt when he was only able to crush 25 HR's this season. We also saw a dip in his average, he finished at .279 AVG, it has not been that low since his 2010 season with Milwaukee where he hit .261. He still finished with a respectable RBI total of 106 and was on par to his average runs scored with 82, but needless to say, in the situation he has been put in, a lot more was expected from Prince. Let's just say Prince had a lot going on this season, he was going through a divorce etc etc blah blah blah. He SHOULD come back next season hungry for that championship and start hitting like we are used to seeing him hit. I expect to see Prince back at 30+ HR's, his AVG should be back near the .300 mark, 110+ RBI and 90+ Runs.
5. Anibal Sanchez
Before the season started, Sanchez was handed a five-year, $80 million contract. A lot of people, myself included, were amazed that Anibal Sanchez received a lucrative contract like that. However, he proved me and everyone else like me, wrong with a stellar season. Sanchez put together a career year with a 2.57 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 202 K's, and a 14-8 record. Anibal Sanchez led the AL with his 2.57 ERA and ranked 9th overall in the AL with his 1.15 WHIP. Granted, it will be difficult to replicate those numbers two years in a row, but Sanchez should still have a great year and serve as a very good fantasy option.
I think it is important to point out that the Tigers pitching staff actually set a record for most strikeouts with a total of 1,428 K's, surpassing the 2003 Cubs. They were also the first team since the 1969 Houston Astros to have three starters finish with 200+ K's for the season. An absolutely remarkable season for Tigers pitching and it really is a shame they could not cap it all off with a World Series ring.
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