Many of the baseball beat writers feel the Detroit Tigers are the best team in the major leagues. While I haven’t seen all of the pre-season articles, the ones I have read pick the Tigers to top the Central division in the American League.
One thing’s for sure – the 2013 Tigers are a much-improved team from last year. Designated hitter Victor Martinez, who batted .330 in 2011 and missed the 2012 season because of an injury, is back in form. The team retained Anibal Sanchez, who pitched well in the postseason, after a late season trade. And the Tigers upgraded right field by signing free agent Torii Hunter. Besides Martinez and Hunter, Detroit has four other .300 hitters in the lineup, and Miguel Cabrera (triple crown winner) and Prince Fielder combined for over 100 home runs.
The pitching staff is one of baseball’s best, which is a prime reason Detroit is expected to represent the American League in the World Series again. Last year, you’ll recall, the San Francisco Giants swept the Tigers in the Fall Classic.
The Cincinnati Reds in the National League Central are an easy choice to top their division. Like the Tigers, the Reds have a potent lineup and strong pitching to overpower weaker teams in the division. The other two divisions (East and West) in the American and National Leagues have at least two or three good ballclubs and are much tougher to figure.
Here are some of the thoughts running through my mind before I made my predictions:
Injuries and aging stars will hamper the Yankees this year.… Boston has some stars but lacks pitching depth.… Toronto traded for and signed star players and will contend.… Baltimore had a 29-9 record in one-run games last year, but that was last year.… Never overlook Tampa Bay…. The Angels added Josh Hamilton to a lineup that already featured Mike Trout and Albert Pujols…. Texas lost Hamilton but has good pitching and some minor leaguers that will be stars.… The no-name Oakland team will become more famous this year.
The Dodgers have a good team and have the money with baseball’s top local cable contract to outspend any other club by trading for expensive stars as they aim for the top.… The Giants have less money to spend but have strong pitching.… Washington has good pitching and enough hitting to win.… Chipper Jones retired but the Braves are still strong enough to contend.… Most of the Phillies have their best days behind them.… Losing star pitcher Chris Carpenter to a possible career-ending injury is tough, but St. Louis always finds a way to stay in the race.
Here’s how I see the leaders in the following categories in 2013:
NL East – Washington Nationals; NL Central – Cincinnati Reds; NL West – L.A. Dodgers
AL East – Toronto Blue Jays; AL Central – Detroit Tigers; AL West – Texas Rangers
NL Wild Cards
San Francisco Giants and Atlanta Braves. Winner: Giants
AL Wild Cards
Tampa Bay Rays and L.A. Angels. Winner: Angels
NL Championship Series Winner
Los Angeles Dodgers
AL Championship Series Winner
Dodgers over Tigers in six games
NL Most Valuable Player
Matt Kemp (Dodgers)
AL Most Valuable Player
Miguel Cabrera (Tigers)
NL Cy Young
Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers)
AL Cy Young
Justin Verlander (Tigers)
NL Rookie of the Year
Travis d’Arnaud (Mets)
AL Rookie of the Year
Wil Myers (Rays)