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2018 MLB Preview: Detroit Tigers

A look at the Detroit Tigers with fantasy baseball in mind.

Is Miguel Cabrera done?
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Basic Stats:

Final Record: 64-98
Runs: 18th
Home Runs: 23rd
Stolen Bases: 23rd
ERA: 30th
Saves: 27th
Strikeouts: 25th

A team that featured several top 100 fantasy options to begin 2017, the Tigers enter 2018 as perhaps the worst team in terms of fantasy output. Detroit traded away most of their top talent. J.D. Martinez to the Diamondbacks, Justin Upton to the Angels, and Justin Verlander to the Astros. In addition to these subtractions, the Tigers also suffer with poor seasons from the likes of Miguel Cabrera and Ian Kinsler. The team stats prove this team was below average in every way, shape, and form.

Let’s take a look towards 2018.

The Superstar: Nicholas Castellanos???

Honestly, there isn’t one. Both Cabrera and Kinsler took huge steps back in 2017 and all signs point to this trend continuing. Nicholas Castellanos is someone I would take a flier on late in the draft to fill out my corner infield spot, but I’m not fully confident I wouldn’t drop him during a cold streak in favor of a player who is doing better. The positives is Castellanos is coming off of his best season in the majors. He has 26 HR 101 RBI and a solid .811 OPS. He is also in line to be the Tigers best hitter in 2018 and should receive a prime lineup spot because of it. Since June, Castellanos finished the year hitting .303 with 22 HR and 76 RBI. He has a good shot at reaching 30 HR in 2018 if he can keep up this production all year.

The Sleeper: Miguel Cabrera???

This could go to Castellanos again but let’s take a different approach here. Cabrera was awful in 2017. AWFUL! In fact, he finished with a 0.72 value for the season on ESPN’s player rater. That’s lower than the likes of his teammates Mikie Mahtook and Jose Iglesias. This landed him #50 for the year at 1B. 1 spot behind Jesus Aguilar and 1 spot ahead of C.J. Cron. Miguel Cabrera should never be in the same sentence as those two! The only hope I can provide any potential Cabrera owners in 2018 is track record. Prior to 2017, Cabrera AVERAGED 32 HR 111 RBI and a .321 batting average through his 1st 14 years as a pro. He also played hurt for most of the year. Cabrera might not be the top 10 option we have grown to expect, but a batting average north of .300 and 30+HR is still on the table for the former triple crown winner. If Cabrera falls in your drafts I’m perfectly fine with taking a shot.

The Guy to Avoid: Miguel Cabrera

Not a typo. I may have just typed a full paragraph full of hopes and dreams for Cabrera but it’s time to wake up and face reality. Miguel Cabrera might be finished as a fantasy option you can rely on. I’m talking outside of the top 200 overall players bad. We’ve seen this before with the likes of Jose Bautista and Albert Pujols. Aging sluggers die and quick and ugly death in baseball now. Cabrera has an injury issue that might be fine, but it might also stick with him throughout the duration of his career and drag down his offensive production as well as his playing time. Listen, could he be the next David Ortiz and play at an elite level until he’s 40? Sure! If anyone can do it, Miguel Cabrera would be on a short list of players I would trust. That being said, I do not want Cabrera hurting my fantasy team next season. I am only drafting him if he falls far.

The Prospect To Watch: Christin Stewart

In terms of fantasy impact in 2018, my bet is on Christin Stewart. Franklin Perez and Matt Manning have better long term value but I’d be surprised to see those two young pitchers make an impact in 2018. That being said I don’t hold high expectations for Stewart and he may only be relevant in deep deep leagues and AL only formats. Stewart has 34 HR and 105 RBI over 160 games at the AA level. He is a big strikeout risk but has real power potential. At 24 years old and with the Tigers in full on rebuild mode, Stewart should get a shot at making the big league lineup. He might not hitting better than .250 (and that’s optimistic) but I can see him easily get 20+ HR if given 400-450 AB.