Spring training is in full swing, and it is time for some bold baseball predictions. The 2013 Detroit Tigers are overwhelming favorites to win their third consecutive American League Central division championship, and why not?
The defending AL champions boast the previous two league MVPs and have bolstered their lineup with the addition of outfielder Torii Hunter and the return of designated hitter Victor Martinez.
Here are five things we can expect from the Tigers in 2013:
Justin Verlander Wins his 2nd Cy Young Award
Name a pitcher not named Justin Verlander who would consider a 2012 season that included a 17-8 win/loss record, 2.64 ERA, and 239 Ks in 238 innings pitched just “OK”?
Look for the Tigers’ workhorse to return to 20+ victories in 2013, with his customary 200+ innings and 200+ strikeouts. He is the best pitcher in the American League. Period.
Miguel Cabrera Repeats as AL Batting Champion
Coming off 2012’s historic Triple Crown/MVP performance, Cabrera will win his third consecutive AL batting championship. Can he duplicate .330/44/139 numbers of last year? Maybe not, but the guy is a 30-year-old hitting machine that takes the field nearly every game and is in the prime of his career. He sports a .318 lifetime batting average, has hit at least 30 dingers in each of the last six seasons, and driven in at least 100 runs every years of his major-league career. He is arguably the most feared hitter in baseball.
With Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez lurking behind him in the batting order, Cabrera will see plenty of pitches to hit. Look for a batting average of .335 or better.
DH Victor Martinez Wins AL Comeback player of the Year
Martinez missed the entire 2012 campaign recovering from offseason micro-fracture knee surgery. He bounces back in 2013 with a big year hitting behind Cabrera and Fielder. His early performance in spring training shows little rust accumulated on the 34-year-old professional hitter. There is concern about how his knee will respond over the course of an entire season, but the bet here is Martinez comes close to his .303 lifetime batting average and approaches 100 RBIs in 2013.
Nick Castellanos is Wears the ‘Olde-English D” by Midseason
The Tigers prized third base-turned-outfield prospect demolished Double-A pitching as a 20-year-old in 2012. Early spring training results are positive, but the Tigers lineup is a tough one to break into. Castellanos will start the 2013 season in Toledo with the Detroit’s other top OF prospect, Avisail Garcia. He will proceed to play his way onto the big club by the All-Star break.
The Detroit Tigers Will Be 2013 World Series Champions
What would a list of bold predictions be without predicting a World Series championship? The Tigers are poised to redeem themselves after being swept from the 2012 Series by San Francisco. Verlander, Cabrera, and company have their eyes on the prize. Anything less than a championship season will be a disappointment.