Last year, the Tigers managed to hold off the Royals by a game on their way to their fourth consecutive AL Central title. While the lead in the division was slim, their roster was littered with Fantasy stars. Detroit’s formula of power hitting and power pitching has long been rife with early Draft Day options.
Miguel Cabrera provided yet another top-10 Fantasy finish, despite being significantly restricted by injury. Ian Kinsler delivered incredible stability, playing 161 games and taking advantage of the great offensive environment (100 R/92 RBI). Throw in a career year from Victor Martinez and a major breakout from J.D. Martinez, and the Tigers flexed more than their share of Fantasy muscle in 2014. Now, in 2015, they’ve added Yoenis Cespedes
For the first time in years, there has been a major overhaul of Detroit’s starting staff (losing Max Scherzer to free agency, trading Rick Porcello, and acquiring Shane Greene and Alfredo Simon). The elite offensive projections and an improved defense should make these new faces interesting bargains late on Draft Day.
We took the projected lineup, rotation and bullpen from RosterResources.com.
2015 Detroit Tigers “Go-To” Lineup:
- 2B Ian Kinsler
- CF Anthony Gose
- 1B Miguel Cabrera
- DH Victor Martinez
- RF J.D. Martinez
- LF Yoenis Cespedes
- 3B Nick Castellanos
- C Alex Avila
- SS Jose Iglesias
Tigers Projected Pitching:
- LHP David Price
- RHP Justin Verlander
- RHP Anibal Sanchez
- RHP Alfredo Simon
- RHP Shane Greene
- Joe Nathan (closer)
- Joakim Soria (setup)
2015 Detroit Tigers Fantasy Studs
Miguel Cabrera didn’t have his best season, but if you could promise me that my first-round Fantasy pick would post a 101 runs, 25 HR, 109 RBI and .313 batting average, I’ll co-sign for it right now. He was able to post these numbers despite being significantly hampered by the bone spurs he had removed from his ankle at the end of the season. In short, Cabrera is still a phenom, and while his recovery timeline should have him ready for Opening Day, even a slight delay shouldn’t impact his ability to be an early first-round value once again.
The million dollar question for Detroit is whether or not J.D. Martinez is for real. Detractors will note his struggles in Houston and use that to explain away last year’s success.The main support to the idea that Martinez is not a one-year wonder is that he had a major overhaul to his swing mechanics last off-season. This new approach is a reasonable explanation for last season’s explosive results. He also has a minor league pedigree as an outstanding hitter (.332/.394/.548 in his minor league career), so while 2014 may not be exactly repeatable, it doesn’t appear to be a total fluke. His price tag may wind up being over-inflated, but if you land him as a third outfielder, you should feel pretty good.
— Daren Willman (@darenw) February 5, 2015
Breakout Candidate: Nick Castellanos
Castellanos spent his first full season in the majors last year at the young age of 22. While he struggled mightily with his defense, that’s not what we are concerned about here. His 2014 slash line looks fairly underwhelming (.259/.306/.394). He hit 11 home runs and struck out at a high rate (24.2%).
However, there is one major indication that we should expect marked gains in his sophomore campaign. Castellanos was second in the majors in line-drive percentage (an absurd 28.5%, behind only Freddie Freeman). While his pure power does not rival Freeman’s, the message is clear: Castellanos does barrel up the ball extremely well. If his offseason focus on plate discipline proves fruitful and he begins taking more walks and striking out fewer times, the peripheral numbers suggest he’ll be awfully good.
When you add to that, the terrific environment he finds himself in, he should reasonably be expected to see as many at-bats w/RISP as anyone in the majors. If you miss out on name brand third basemen, there is a lot to love with Castellanos.
Sleeper Candidate: Shane Greene
The Tigers acquired Greene from the Yankees in a fairly under-the–radar deal this offseason. During his first tour in the majors last year, the right-hander started 14 games, going 5-4 with a 3.78 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP. However, Greene’s xFIP of 3.40 suggests he pitched better than these statistics indicate. The exciting peripheral numbers here are his 9.79 K/9 and an impressive 50.2% groundball rate. The latter is really intriguing, as the Tigers’ infield defense boasts Gold Glove finalists in Kinsler and Cabrera, and will be returning their young all-world defensive shortstop Jose Iglesias to the fold this year.
Additionally, the outfield defense was bolstered by additions of Gose and Cespedes this offseason. Moving to a less offensively-inclined division and providing more run support is just the cherry on top. Grab Greene late in your drafts.
Bust Candidate: Victor Martinez
Even before the recent news broke that Martinez had suffered a meniscus tear, he was already in this conversation. Martinez won a lot of Fantasy leagues for drafters that took a flier on him late last year. He posted career highs in home runs (32) and for each number on his slash line (.335/.409/.565). Compare these with his career averages of 21 HR, and a slash line of .306/.373/.475, and it’s pretty apparent that V-Mart was playing out of his mind last year. Given the length of his career, it seems clear this season was an outlier. The bust end of this is strictly from a Fantasy perspective.
Expect Martinez to be plenty good this year, even if his start is hampered by recovery from this knee injury. But following last year’s offensive explosion, his current draft price is soaring to the third-to-fifth round. Martinez just turned 36, and it should be reasonably expected that his production dips off a bit. He won’t earn that his price tag in drafts this year, even if he’s totally healthy.
— MLB (@MLB) February 6, 2015
Top Rookie: James McCann
Alex Avila deserves a Congressional Medal of Honor for the service he has provided the Detroit Tigers for the past several years. The backstop is constantly playing through injury, and last season alone he suffered three concussions. The Tigers have used a mix of veteran backstops to spell Avila through the years, but this season they will have their top catcher prospect breaking camp with the minors.
Expect James McCann to begin the season in a platoon with Avila thanks to his ability to crush left-handed pitching (he slashed .344/.401/.484 in Triple-A against LHP). However, if (when?) Avila goes down with an extended injury, McCann will find himself as the every-day guy in a pretty desirable situation.
Nugget for those in deep AL-only #fantasybaseball leagues. V-Mart’s injury opens up early playing time for James McCann with Avila at 1B/DH.
— Todd Zola (@ToddZola) February 5, 2015
What Should We Know About the 2015 Detroit Tigers?
|2015 Team Previews: AL Central|
The national pundits are down on the Tigers somewhat. Many are still predicting them to win the division, but have them barely scraping by. A lot will hinge on the faces of their franchise.
Was last year’s nightmare season by Justin Verlander just a product of the offseason core surgery he had that disrupted his preseason training regimen and lingered with him into the season?
Will Cabrera’s ankle be ready to go? Can the addition of Cespedes, overall improved defense, and a rebuilt bullpen make up for the losses of Scherzer and Porcello?
At the end of the day, this team still has more firepower than their competitors in the AL Central, and when it comes down to it, they’ll find a way to hoist their fifth consecutive division title.
Miguel Cabrera Photo Credit: Miguel Cabrera
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