Just a few seasons ago the Detroit Tigers had one of the best teams in baseball. They won the AL Central in 2012, 2013, and 2014. They played well enough to win it in 2016 but fell just short down the stretch.
While the period from 2006-2016 was a nice run for the Tigers and their fans, the one disappointment was not winning a World Series title.
The last three seasons in Motown have been nothing like the 10 previous. The Tigers have lost 90 games or more each season, with 2019 being the worst as they ended up in the loser column 114 times.
So why would fans believe the Tigers can actually contend for the AL Central crown this season? Because that’s how baseball works.
In 2016 the Minnesota Twins lost 103 games. In 2017 they made the playoffs. Anything can happen.
Now, the Tigers most likely aren’t going to go out and win the 2020 World Series, but with some key additions this offseason, they should be much improved from 2019.
Young outfielders time to shine
Detroit had some bad luck last season with injuries. Sure, all teams get them, but the Tigers were losing starting players weekly.
In small samples, Tigers fans have seen the potential from centerfielder Jacoby Jones and left-fielder Christin Stewart. They have also seen some great play from newcomer Travis Demeritte. These guys are young and have plenty of upside.
Last season the Tigers lost Jones and Stewart for significant amounts of time. Jones went on the 10-day DL for back issues in July, then was lost in early August for the remainder of the season with a wrist injury.
Stewart had a rough 2019. He missed time with a right quad strain early in the season, then in July, he suffered a concussion that had him out for a significant amount of time. If Jones and Stewart can stay healthy, they can be difference makers.
Demeritte was obtained last season in the deal that sent Shane Greene to Atlanta. Demeritte showed flashes of why he was selected 30th overall in the 2013 MLB Draft.
Travis Demeritte has already made an impact on the Tigers, and is ready for the future. pic.twitter.com/4yT4q0U3uT
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) August 12, 2019
The kid looks more than capable of being an everyday starter in rightfield, and he will most likely split time with Victor Reyes.
New faces in Cron, Schoop, Romine
The Tigers brought in three new players that should put up some nice numbers in Comerica Park.
CJ Cron and Jonathan Schoop both bolted from the Twins to sign with the Tigers, along with former New York Yankees catcher Austin Romine.
Defensively, Cron and Schoop should have the right side of the infield on lockdown. They also should add some much-needed punch in the lineup.
Cron hit 25 home runs and drove in 78 runs for the Twins in 2019. Schoop hit 23 homers and had 59 RBI in 121 games.
As for Romine, he will bring experience behind the plate, something the Tigers have not had since parting ways with Alex Avila. Signing a veteran catcher was one of Tigers’ top priorities for many reasons, including becoming a mentor for youngsters Jake Rogers and Grayson Greiner.
“Signing an experienced catcher was high on our list of offseason priorities, and we believe Austin will have an impact both on the field and in the clubhouse,” GM Al Avila said. “He’s a proven leader and game caller who has earned respect around the league for the tenacious and passionate manner in which he plays the game.”
Things look better on paper for the Tigers heading into 2020. Now, hopefully, the new additions, along with a healthier season, will result in a lot more wins.
Here is the projected starting lineup and batting order for the Tigers in 2020.
- Christin Stewart — LF
- Niko Goodrum — SS
- Miguel Cabrera — DH
- C.J. Cron — 1B
- Jacoby Jones — CF
- Jonathan Schoop — 2B
- Jeimer Candelario — 3B
- Austin Romine — C
- Victor Reyes/ Travis Demeritte — RF