When the various statistical projection systems spit out stat lines and win total predictions earlier this offseason, Detroit Tigers fans balked at their team’s forecast. None of the main projection systems were very high on the Tigers, and Baseball Prospectus even predicted the Tigers would finish with a losing record.
Soon after, national writers and publications started to submit their predictions. The Tigers fared a little better here, with some sites going as high as 85 wins. Las Vegas oddsmakers were relatively optimistic as well, putting the Tigers at 85.5 wins.
In short, no one knows what will happen. The Tigers are relying on a few veteran players at key spots in their lineup, and don’t have the organizational depth to withstand many injuries. Their pitching staff is promising, but young, and could suffer a few growing pains as the season rolls along. They are a talented group, though, and can hang with anyone in baseball in a short series.
How will this balance play out? Can the Tigers avoid injuries and reach the postseason again? Or will they falter, and look to the future earlier than expected?
This week’s question: How many games will the Tigers win in 2017?
John: I came up with 91. Active discussions seriously contemplating Andrew Romine's chances to put in significant time in center field are a strong indicator that the team is worse in that position this year, but I'm counting on an improved Jordan Zimmermann and the realization that Matt Boyd is the best choice for the fifth starter spot to even things out. This team isn't that much different than last year. The Indians are still great but the rest of the AL Central is most certainly not. Detroit beat up on the Twins and the White Sox last year, and I don't see that trend changing. They went 4-14 against Cleveland and 7-12 against Kansas City. As good as the Indians are, that shouldn't happen, and there is no reason to not do better against the Royals. If they improve to just .500 against those two teams, we're looking at 91 wins.
Ashley: Ninety, because I am still optimistic about a quality season. I don't see them winning the division but I don't think a wild card spot is out of the question. I think they will fare slightly better than last year's 86. There's no way they can lose as badly to Cleveland. The Royals, Twins, and White Sox did nothing to improve for this season, and the Tigers’ pitching looks to be in better shape. If people would just stay healthy I don't think it's a stretch to suggest they can eke out four more wins over last year.
Peter: I think they will win somewhere between 0 and 162 games because math.
Ashley: I think Peter is the worst.
Brandon: I'll peg the Tigers at 88 wins. Bounce-back seasons from Justin Upton and J.D. Martinez should cover some regression and/or injuries from Ian Kinsler, Victor Martinez and possibly Miguel Cabrera, as well as the loss of Cameron Maybin's production. Nick Castellanos provides an opportunity for the offense to actually be better, alone with a little more from Jose Iglesias and James McCann. The bullpen worries me a little, but for once we have some depth there. I have a lot of confidence in this starting rotation, and won't be a bit surprised if they grade out as the best unit in the American League. They will have to be a healthy group to accomplish that. They will probably fall a bit short, and just short of winning the division, but they should be able to pull a wild card spot.
Cameron: I think the Tigers will finish 82-80 and in second place in the Central Division, failing to make the playoffs for the third straight season. While on paper the roster looks fairly solid right now, the aging core and lack of prospect depth is worrisome. It's fair to worry that all three of Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and J.D. Martinez will miss ample time with injuries, and that there will be a massive drop-off in the production from the replacements. The starting rotation should be one of the top five in the American League, but the bullpen is a massive question mark once again. The inconsistency of their four top pen arms in Francisco Rodriguez, Justin Wilson, Shane Greene, and Bruce Rondon is alarming, and should scare most fans when coupled with Brad Ausmus' tendency to sit back and let pitchers burn instead of removing them when there's smoke. I do think that both Nick Castellanos and Justin Upton are going to have All-Star caliber seasons, and that Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd will take huge steps in their development, which will both fun to watch. However, the two big questions remain the same as they have for the last seven years: will the Tigers remain healthy and will the bullpen not completely reek to high heaven? In the best case scenario, this roster has enough firepower to make this a very special season in Detroit.
Catherine: Eighty-eight games, second place (just barely losing out first). The Tigers have all the pieces to match their performance from last year, at a minimum, and they appear poised to do the same again. The trick will be improving against the Indians if they are going to take more than a Wild Card spot. It's going to come down to core roster stability down the stretch if they're going to move beyond the one-game showdown and challenge for a divisional title. I'm not sure they can push past the ALDS largely because of their poor showing against Cleveland, but given their rotation is healthier out of the gate, the Tigers should easily take a Wild Card, and they could sneak up for the Central Division title if they figure out the Indians.
Nolan: If everything breaks right, the Tigers have the look of a 90-win team. Everything will not break right. At some point, Buck Farmer is going to start a game due to injuries, Andrew Romine will play in more games than we care to see due to injury, and relievers will implode. Despite this, I think the Tigers will remain competitive in the playoff race thanks to the talent on their pitching staff and the awesomeness of Miguel Cabrera, ultimately falling just short of a Wild Card at 86-76.
Jeff: I have the Tigers winning 78 games and in third place. The main reason is the lack of depth. This is an aging team that is injury prone as seen from last year. J.D. Martinez is already starting the season on the disabled list and if Victor Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, Jordan Zimmermann, and any significant player(s) spend a significant portion of the season on the DL, the Tigers are doomed. Yes, I know I shouldn't be looking at the worst possible scenario but to expect this Tigers team to be 100 percent healthy seems like looking through rose-colored glasses. Not to mention, I think they are going to go with Anibal Sanchez and Mike Pelfrey for far too long while they are giving negative value, and I'm not too optimistic on James McCann and whoever they put in center field providing much use. Call me pessimistic, but I don't see the Tigers getting off to a good start and then selling off some pieces at the deadline.
Kurt: I said 86 games last year and I'll say 86 game again this year. It's a hard team to grasp. A lot of the projection systems really don't like it after some of the team's most important players suffered through injuries or poor seasons in the past. But I think the potential is there to be better than that. If they can find a way to simply avoid being run over by Cleveland this year — and you have to expect that won't happen again — while eating the weak Central Division for supper, the Tigers really do have the potential to put a lot of wins on the board. But too often we look at the best case and it falls short because of unforeseen or stumbles with no depth to fill the hole. And right now I don't feel real optimistic about depth anywhere. Add to that the complete disaster that is center field, and you lose some of the glow. And that's before veteran players are given too long of a leash and cost too many wins. So the otherwise rosy vision has to be tempered down a bit. Definite playoff potential for this team but I'll say it just misses out on the second Wild Card yet again due to something unforeseen coming up that just sets them a little too far back to overcome.
Kyle: I do not see the Tigers finishing better than 81-81 this season. As much as I would like to believe that the team will put it together, there just seems to be too much resting on fortune. Any number of injuries could seriously derail most chances of long-term success, and essentially all of the stars must perform near their peak levels for the Tigers to even compete for the division title. As the season drags on, smaller details can make all of the difference, and it is hard to be too optimistic about things like depth, base running, and defense when talking about the Tigers. There will be bright spots, but the overall outlook does not look too promising.
frisbeepilot: Eighty-eight keys on a piano, 88 wins in a season. Works for me. I feel like we're going to see a return to fine form for Anibal Sanchez, but Jordan Zimmermann will continue to be (a) healthy, and (b) consistent. I also feel like we're going to see some surprises out of the bullpen — Joe Jimenez as the Second Coming of Joel Zumaya, perhaps? — and Shane Greene will find himself a reliable reliever. At the plate, Justin Upton will come out of the gate hot, but somehow injure himself in a bizarre gardening accident. Miggy's gonna Miggy, Victor's gonna Victor, and Nicholas "Don't Call Me Nick" Castellanos is gonna mash. You wonder, then, why I'm not more optimistic than 88 wins? Two words: J.D. Martinez. I fear this will be a bit of a lost season for our "other" Martinez, with injuries continuing to bite him.
Patrick OKennedy: Eighty-nine wins, first place. The Tigers have basically the same team as last year. With fewer injuries, they should be better. In particular, replacing 51 starts by Pelfrey, Sanchez, and Shane Greene should help. There will be more injuries, and there is still no depth, so they will be painful. I would be more concerned about defense, base running, and depth than I am about center field. The bullpen appears deeper, but the critical late inning jobs are a cause for concern. The Indians had a lot go right last year, starting with a lopsided record vs Detroit. That won't happen again.
Ron: I have the Tigers going 92-70 clinching the AL Central by two games over Cleveland. The Tigers were extremely unlucky last year. They lost Nick Castellanos to a broken hand, and J.D. Martinez broke his elbow. Justin Upton had the worst offensive slump in his entire career, until he broke out of it in June and then set several career highs from there. This year, I see the pendulum of fate swinging in the Tigers’ favor. You will see a five-man rotation of Verlander, Fulmer, Zimmermann, Norris and Boyd that rivals any other team’s rotation. You will also see a bullpen that actually locks down in close games, led by great seasons from Alex Wilson and Bruce Rondon. The offense will click as it was towards the end of the season. Lineup construction is a puzzle, and the Tigers have finally found how the pieces all fit. They might not be strong right out of the gate, but they will grind through any roadblocks and capture their fifth AL Central crown in the past seven seasons.
Peter: Seventy-four games. Why 74 games? Because that's how many they ended up winning after they sold in 2015, and that's what will happen this year. I know, we're all excited about giving it one more shot at glory with this core. But for the Tigers to truly contend, they need everything to go right, and chances are that won't happen. J.D. Martinez is already slated to start the season on the disabled list, and the next long-lasting injury to a key regular will topple this house of cards. The Tigers’ front office is trying to patch over major holes with chewing gum. I think they will fail spectacularly and be forced to sell at the deadline.
Grace: I think the Tigers will win 83 games in 2017. They're counting on a lot from too many sources to have a great shot at winning more than that. J.D. Martinez will already miss a few weeks at the start of the season in the best-case scenario, and who knows how long after that before he's back to full strength? Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera are aging, and Miggy has already had a minor injury this year. The center field position is still up in the air. The bullpen isn't set. Even the starting rotation is uncertain, less than a week out from Opening Day. The Tigers will be lucky to get a Wild Card spot in October.
Patrick W.: I have the Tigers going 85-77, which I must say, feels optimistic. But the AL Central is the weakest it has been in a long time and maybe the Tigers won't go 4-14 against the Indians? I think a healthy Jordan Zimmermann and a more productive back back of the rotation will see the Tigers in playoff contention the whole year, hopefully sneaking into a Wild Card spot in September.
Jacob: I'll say the Tigers play one game over .500, at 82-80. I truly don't want to believe that a losing season is in store for my beloved Tigers, but also don't think that the "one last shot" will come to fruition. When they get cold, they get really, really cold and the injury bug has been unkind lately. In addition, the backups that we have in store are less than inspiring. I want to be wrong.
Opening Day 2017 Preview!Posted by Bless You Boys: For Detroit Tigers Fans on Wednesday, March 29, 2017