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FOXSports Likes Tigers Chances

2006 Predicted order of finish: AL Central

1. White Sox
2. Tigers
3. Indians
4. Twins
5. Royals

Detroit Tigers

2005 Runs Scored (AL Rank): 723 (11th)

2005 Runs Allowed (AL Rank): 787 (8th)

2005 Starters' ERA (AL Rank): 4.68 (9th)

2005 Bullpen ERA (AL Rank): 3.81 (T-7th)
Offensively, the Tigers are in the rare position of having a shot at being above average at every single position. There are certainly a number of health-related "X" factors to be considered (Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen need to stay off the DL), and there's the matter of sorting out the Dmitri Young-Chris Shelton-Carlos Pena-Craig Monroe first base/DH/left field bottleneck, but the Tigers are nevertheless poised (crouched?) to have one of the best offenses in the game.

The run-prevention front, however, isn't quite as strong. It won't be an awful unit by any means, but it will be what prevents the Tigers from seriously challenging the White Sox. Kenny Rogers is in for a regression (as is closer Todd Jones), but Jeremy Bonderman should take a modest step forward in his journey toward ace-dom. Mike Maroth and Nate Robertson could both hang league-average ERAs or thereabouts, and rookie Justin Verlander -- the best right-handed pitching prospect in the game -- should give the Tigers quality innings from the five hole.

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Wow. This is a very optimistic standpoint towards the Tigers upcoming season right here. While I would love to be this optimistic about the chances Detroit has, I have seen bad breaks, injuries, and many other things (including little talent) hinder the Tigers success over the course of many seasons.

So why should this season be any different? Well, let's just look at the division rival White Sox of last season. There were several very lucky breaks for them last season, including being relatively injury free. While they were a very talented team (more talented than the Tigers this year), a couple of good breaks going the Tigers way can perhaps make them a contender this season. Hopefully this is the case.