4. Detroit Tigers
While it may be unwise to underestimate the Detroit Tigers under the leadership of manager A.J. Hinch, their current roster has a very low chance of performing well even by the standards of the AL Central. Although they finished second in the division with a record of 78-84 last season, it is important to note that their previous season was marked with a record of 66-96. Although various sportsbooks predict that the team will again win 78 or more games this season, there is not much evidence to support such a positive outlook.
Pythagorean records are hardly gospel, but they tell fans how lucky a team was given their runs scored and runs allowed. Detroit was the second-luckiest team in the American League, according to Bill James' formula, finishing with a Pythagorean record five wins worse than their actual record. Their 2023 win-loss record could feel inflated, especially considering their 19-11 record to close out the year.
Jack Flaherty and Kenta Maeda simply cannot replace the level of production that Michael Lorenzen and Eduardo Rodriguez brought to the table in 2023. That lost production is not being talked about enough, thanks to Tarik Skubal's emergence and other enticing yet unproven options rounding out the rotation.
With Miguel Cabrera's retirement, the Tigers will be looking for a new franchise player to take the reins. Spencer Torkelson has shown a lot of potential, but he still needs to prove himself on the field before earning that title. Even with Torkelson and Kerry Carpenter's promising performances, the team's starting rotation is likely to struggle this season. Injuries and regression will likely result in the Tigers ending up in the bottom half of their division. While Torkelson and Skubal can certainly make significant contributions, the team will need more than just them to recapture their 2023 momentum.