The Detroit Tigers have as much star power as any team in the major leagues. Two of the three Cy Young winners from the 2014 roster are back, as is the two-time American League Most Valuable Player, and it doesn't stop there. Which player will be the Tigers' most valuable player in 2015?
Miguel Cabrera is the two-time MVP in the American League, so any discussion centered on those three letters must begin with Miggy. In an off year, he still finished second in the league in RBI, third in runs scored, and batted .313 with a .371 on base percentage. Those numbers, accomplished in a season that ended on a fractured foot, would represent a career season for almost any other player.
Cabrera is widely viewed as the best hitter in the game, and if he recovers from surgery as expected, he would have to be considered the favorite to be the Tigers' MVP and in the conversation for the MVP of the league for the third time in four seasons.
Victor Martinez finished second only to the Angels' Mike Trout in the MVP voting in 2014. He led the league with a .411 wOBA and a .409 on-base percentage. He finished second to Jose Altuve for the batting title, and second to Jose Abreu in slugging percentage. He was arguably the best hitter in the league in 2014.
Like Cabrera, V-Mart enters the 2015 season recovering from surgery, his second on his right knee in four years. Fortunately, he is expected to miss only spring training. If this recovery goes the same as the last, he will get off to a slow start for about half a season, then set the league on fire once again.
Ian Kinsler actually posted the highest WAR among all Tigers' position players in 2014, with a 5.4 fWAR. He was also the only Tiger to provide plus offense and plus defense. You might say he was the best two way player on the team.
Kinsler's batting line was solid, but not spectacular. He scored 100 runs and drove in 92 despite leading off much of the year. He was just very good across the board. On the bases, he led the league with a 9.1 BsR. He led all second basemen in the American League with plus 20 defensive runs saved (DRS).
It may take a rocky season from Cabrera and Martinez to let Kinsler ascend to the top of the heap, but his all around game should again be one of the most valuable contributions to the Tigers.
David Price came to the Tigers in exchange for young pitcher Drew Smyly and center fielder Austin Jackson, and is expected to take the place of Cy Young winner Max Scherzer atop the Tigers' starting rotation. A former Cy Young winner himself, Price led the league in strikeouts and innings pitched, and posted a 6.1 WAR, which would have led all Tigers, including Scherzer, in 2014.
Justin Verlander has his own Cy Young Award on his mantle, as well as an MVP trophy for the 2011 season. It is not easy for a pitcher to win the Most Valuable Player Award, as many voters won't consider pitchers for the award since they only start every fifth game.
Verlander's recent struggles are well documented, although he still ranked 15th in the American League among starting pitchers in WAR, 12th in innings pitched, and tied for seventh with 15 wins for the season. Even if he doesn't regain the form that won him the league MVP in 2011, any improvement in his game will make him a dominant force.
Who do you think will be the Tigers' MVP in 2015?