Detroit Tigers ZiPS projections: Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander still awesome

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

You know the stars are still going to be stars. But who should win the fifth-starter battle? How much better than Delmon Young is Torii Hunter? Dan Szymborski's ZiPS projections offer guidance.

We've often tossed around our own projections, but Dan Szymborski's ZiPS projections for the Tigers this season (check them out at FanGraphs) have Detroit's everyday players worth about 46 wins above replacement -- which projects to about an 89-90 win team. That's really not all that important for any number of reasons. It's just hard to make a perfect translation of stats to wins, and Fangraphs is notably strange when it comes to pitchers.

Remember not to get too caught up in the exact figures. What is interesting is how some of the players' stats compare with each other or and with how we commonly perceive players. So I combed through the figures trying to answer a few questions I had. Here are my observations:


- In the fifth starter battle, Drew Smyly's ERA and FIP (4.20, 3.93) are both projected to be better than Rick Porcello's (4.73, 4.04).

- Max Scherzer is projected to have the same ERA as Doug Fister -- 3.95

- Potential-closer Bruce Rondon has a 5.90 ERA projection.

- Anibal Sanchez would definitely not be worth the cost if he has a 4.23 ERA.

- The crappy Tigers' defense costs all the pitchers

Position players:

This guy is Miguel Cabrera's closest comparable. Also, Cabrera is projected to have another whale of a season. But it didn't really take a system to tell you that, hey?

Prince Fielder is projected to have just 30 home runs. That's what he had in 2012, of course, but it's also seven fewer than the Bill James projection. I'm apt to go with James on this one.

Newcomer Torii Hunter's offensive projection is .287 average, .344 on-base percentage, .438 slugging. His defense is +3. In other words. It adds up to about 2 WAR, which is a large big step above Delmon Young (-0.7 WAR in 2012).

Jhonny Peralta should have a bounce back year, though a .307 wOBA projection makes him look a lot more like the player in his final years in Cleveland than his first year in Detroit.

Austin Jackson: really awesome.


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