2015 Finish: (74-87)
Fangraphs Projection: 80-82 3rd place
The Detroit Tigers crashed to a 74-win season in 2016, after winning four consecutive AL Central titles. The once-dominant starting rotation could not withstand Justin Verlander missing half the season due to injury and terrible seasons from Anibal Sanchez and Alfredo Simon.
More from KC Royals News
- KC Royals Rumors: Is a monster move in the cards?
- KC Royals Free Agent Hunt: 3 Tampa Bay pitchers
- Grading the 2022 KC Royals: The $25 million man
- KC Royals Winter Meetings Tracker: Expectations met
- KC Royals Winter Meetings Tracker: Day 3 update
Not only did the pitching collapse, the offense showed its age with cornerstone Miguel Cabrera missing more than a month, and DH Victor Martinez collapsing to a .667 OPS after an outstanding .974 in 2014.
Tigers GM Don Dombrowski traded off ace David Price and OF Yoenis Cespedes, who were in the final year of their contracts, in what appeared to be the first move toward rebuilding. However, elderly owner Mike Ilitch canned Dombrowski and replaced him with Al Avila—who then loaded up with veteran free agents in the off season in hopes of contending in 2016.
Closer: Francisco Rodriguez
- 2B Ian Kinsler
- LF Justin Upton
- 1B Miguel Cabrera
- DH Victor Martinez
- RF J.D. Martinez
- 3B Nick Castellanos
- C James McCann
- SS Jose Inglesias
- CF Anthony Gose
To win, the Tigers need to buck the league-wide trend toward youth and get vintage seasons from their long-in-the-tooth veterans. Though they appear formidable, the question is whether they can hold up over 162 games.
The Tigers will also have to see considerable improvement from their rebuilt bullpen, which needs to reverse a long-term problem with blowing leads late in games. Along with replacing closer Joakim Soria with the legendary K-Rod (who relies on guile and a sinker more than whiffs these days), the Tigers have brought in the venerable Mark Lowe and return the effective Justin Wilson.
While everything could come together for the Tigers, I wouldn’t count on it. I don’t see them challenging the Kansas City Royals in 2016.
Next: Minnesota Twins