Saturday, December 8, 2012

Detroit Tigers

Detroit Tigers (88 - 74) -- First Place A.L. Central 

As a Tiger's fan, it can be a challenge to write the recap for your favorite team.  There's this strive to stay partial and at the same time, leaving emotions that linger from the end of the season aside, especially when they were so close to winning their first World Series title since 1984.  And that pretty much sums up the Detroit Tigers season...close but not enough.  A season with lofty expectations started shaky but ultimately ended with a thrilling pennant chase and a trip to the World Series which unfortunately ended in a sweep to the Giants.  That last part is still tough to swallow, but hey, a lot of clubs would loved to have won the Division for the second year in a row and make the Fall Classic.  Here's your long-awaited 2012 Detroit Tiger's recap coming a few days late, mainly because I'm lazy.  Enjoy.

Pitchers - What can you say about the staff that has been put together by GM Dave Dombrowski?  The rotation was anchored by (arguably, but for me...) the best pitcher in baseball, Justin Verlander.  Max Scherzer had a career year, striking out 231 batters, second only to Verlander's 239.  Doug Fister battled injuries but finished strong while "Kid Rick" Porcello was a 5th starter most teams would kill to have.

Trade deadline acquisition Anibal Sanchez cost the Tigers top pitching prospect Jacob Turner, but you'd be hard pressed to find a Detroit fan that would claim the Tiger's were a worse team with him as he pitched very well down the stretch and in the playoffs.  The bullpen was another story.  New Tiger Octavio Dotel was the most consistent reliever in a very inconsistent bullpen, as closer Jose "Papa Grande" Valverde and setup man Joaquin  Benoit failed to replicate their success from 2011 as both reliever's ERAs went the wrong direction from their 2011 stats.

Infield - Do you like lots of offense and no defense?  If you answered "yes" then you would have loved the 2012 Tigers infield.  One of the biggest questions before the season was how well Miguel Cabrera would adjust to his move to the hot corner.  Miggy actually proved to be pretty average which is all the team needed.  But the rest of the infield defense were well below average which is not what the team needed.  BUT at the plate, it was a different story.  Cabrera had a season to remember, winning the first Triple Crown in 45 years and his first AL MVP with a stat line of .330 BA, 44 homers and 139 RBI.  Prince Fielder began to live up to massive expectations and a massive contract by hitting a career-best .313 and swatting 30 home runs for the sixth straight year.  2B Omar Infante may have been just as good an acquisition as Sanchez by being above average on the field and at the plate, which was a massive upgrade than "worst in the major literally every statistic" which was what the Tigers had at second in the form of platoon Ryan Raburn/Ramon Santiago before Infante came over with Sanchez in the Jacob Turner trade from the Marlins. He's an ex-Tiger we all welcomed back.

Outfield - Austin Jackson rebounded nicely from a sophomore slump in 2011 to become the catalyst for the Tiger's offense, hitting .300 and cutting way back on his strikeouts.  Basically if Jackson was getting on base the Tigers were scoring and winning.  With Brennan Boesch struggling to hit a baseball all year, Andy Dirks platooned with two rookies, Quintin Berry and Avisail "Mini-Miggy" Garcia in the corner outfield spots.  Delmon Young sucked so bad in the field he took over as full-time DH for Victor Martinez who was injured for the year.

Young  didn't do much except hit into a zillion double-play and some-freakin-how, he also destroyed the Yankees pitching in the ALDS.  And he managed to let  everyone in New York know that he hates Jews.  And also he's a drunk.  I won't miss him.

Twitter Account(s) of the Day: While Justin Verlander doesn't tweet often, he does tweet anything from his golf shots to pictures of the clubhouse.  And maybe, just maybe he might accidentally drop clues on where things stand with him and (rumored) girlfriend Kate Upton.  So head over to Twitter and follow @JustinVerlander today!

BONUS: @PhilCokesBrain is not really Tiger's relief pitcher Phil Coke but it's so freakin' hilarious during the season, it's worth a follow too.

While the Tiger's had a great 2012 campaign, the disappointing finish left fans wanting more.  With some key acquisitions in the off-season, look for the Tigers in 2013 to finish where they left off and once again contend in not only the AL Central but for the World Series title.