Friday, March 28, 2014
Ten Predictions for Tigers Batters in 2014
(Photo credit: Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press)
I'm a little less optimistic about the Tigers now than I was at the beginning of spring training, but I still think they are are good shape even with all the injuries. How good? I'll try to answer that by making some predictions for the 2014 season. These are not mathematical projections, but rather a mix of science and intuition. I'll start by offering ten predictions for Tigers batters:
Alex Avila has regressed two consecutive seasons due to health problems (most notably concussions) which are threatening to shorten his career. We will never repeat his 2011 season, but I expect him to rebound somewhat this year. He will hit .250/.350/.400 with 15 round trippers and continue to be good at framing pitches and working with the pitching staff.
Miguel Cabrera will have another MVP caliber season batting .330/.400/.590 with 40 home runs. He will not win the MVP again this year though. That's going to Mike Trout on an improved Angels team this year.
Ian Kinsler will overcome his fluky Arlington home/road split and do just fine in his new home: .270/.340/.400 with 20 stolen bases. He will continue to be a slightly above average defender at age 31.
Alex Gonzalez will start out as the primary shortstop and hit five home runs in April. He will however bat .220 and have limited range at shortstop at age 37. He'll get hurt by May and they will juggle Andrew Romine and Danny Worth until they find a better solution during the summer. They will sign Stephen Drew to an expensive half-year deal some time after the draft (allowing them to avoid draft pick compensation). Ultimately, Jose Iglesias will be missed more than either outfielder Andy Dirks or reliever Bruce Rondon.
Nick Castellanos will be at the center of Rookie of Year discussions with a great first two months. The pitchers will then catch up to him, but he'll still have a solid rookie campaign batting .275 with a .330 OBP and 20 homers. He'll be in the bottom third of third basemen defensively but won't embarrass himself.
Torii Hunter will have a rough year hitting .275 with a .750 OPS as his career winds down. Even worse, he will continue to struggle defensively.
Austin Jackson will split the difference between his excellent 2012 season and somewhat disappointing 2013 season ending with a final line of .285/.335/.440. His defense will also get back to being above average.
Rajai Davis will not be the primary left fielder for the most part, but with the injury of Andy Dirks and un-readiness of Tyler Collins, he'll get the most playing time of any left fielder. He'll bat .260 with 40 stolen bases in 320 PA and numerous pinch running opportunities.
Victor Martinez will start slow and finish strong again, but not be quite as durable as he was in 2013. He will bat .300 with a .790 OPS in 140 games.
The Tigers will score 750 runs in 2014.