2015 Fantasy Outlooks: Detroit Tigers

miguel_cabrera

The Detroit Tigers enter 2015 coming off a 1st place finish in the AL Central but ended up watching their division rival Royals make a run to the World Series. They have had a mixed offseason with the losses of Robbie Ray, Rick Porcello, Torii Hunter and a little known pitcher called Max Scherzer. In return they have strengthened their outfield with the addition of Yoenis Cespedes and Anthony Gose and have added Alfredo Simon and Shane Greene at the back end of their rotation. Detroit are one of the most exciting teams in fantasy having both highly rated hitters and pitchers as well as a lot of depth so as a fantasy fan you may spend a lot of your time watching the Tigers in 2015.

Hitting

Predicted Line-up (courtesy of www.rosterresource.com)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  2. Anthony Gose, OF (vs RH), Rajai Davis, OF (vs LH)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  4. Victor Martinez, DH
  5. D. Martinez, OF
  6. Yoenis Cespedes, OF
  7. Alex Avila, C
  8. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS

Fantasy Superstar: Miguel Cabrera, 1B:

Cabrera’s value took a small hit when he lost his 3rd base eligibility entering this season because what he offers at first base is nowhere near position leading like it was at third base. Cabrera is still an elite player it’s just he is now in a tier with at least one other person at his position as opposed to being out on his own like he used to be at third base. Even with a slight doubt about if he will be ready for day one Cabrera should still be a top 5 pick in drafts as he allows you to lock in 30+ homers with 100+ runs and RBI at an average well above 0.300. Honestly what more can you ask for?

Regression?: Victor Martinez, DH

Now we go through a group of Tigers where I have concerns and this starts with V.Mart. Coming off multiple injuries Martinez was a late round pick in 2014 who ended up being a fantasy winner for those who took the gamble. The addition of first base eligibility for this season has boosted his value but drafting him in the fourth round scares me given the fact he has had surgery just a few weeks back and may enter the season with little time under his belt in spring if any. He has slipped down a little as he was going in the 3rd round to now going late fourth/early fifth and that is getting close to being right. Of the people going later than him the only person I have above is Joey Votto and he comes with his own concerns. My theory on Martinez now is that I would rather have one of the top 5-7 first baseman as my #1 and then I would rather wait and gamble on Fielder or Duda a few rounds later. If you really missed on first base early in the draft then you may have no choice but you need to back him up and do it with something you have faith in.

Second Season Syndrome?: Ian Kinsler, 2B

There was a lot of concern last season that Ian Kinsler was due a downturn in production what with his increasing age and his move away from Texas. However, Kinsler defied the logic and had the best fantasy year he has had in the last three meaning that he is now considered a solid top 5 option at second base. Currently I see Kinsler and Dozier as the 4th and 5th second baseman and behind them is a big tier drop off. Investing a 5th round pick in an ageing Kinsler who has had a bounce back year compared to waiting a few rounds and grabbing the up and coming Wong or waiting even further and getting two of my massive sleepers in Semien and Gennett is something I am just not sure I want to do. Those fears from the start of 2014 may not have been realised but they shouldn’t be forgotten just because of one good season.

Bust Potential?: Yoenis Cespedes, OF

I am not sure what to make of Cespedes entering this year given that the last two years he has been the 33rd and 35th ranked outfielder at the end of the year for roto. Since 2012 the average has declined greatly from around 0.290 to 0.240 in 2013 and 0.260 in 2014 and his stolen base total for the last two season has not managed to equal that from 2012. Currently you will have to take Cespedes as a #2 OF as the 21st guy off the board and for me that is a big investment given some of the upside you can find later in drafts. Current projections have Cespedes in the 50th outfielder range just increasing my concern and meaning that I will be staying clear of Cespedes in round 6 and waiting a couple of rounds to grab the next man.

Mid-round Bargain: J.D. Martinez, OF

After three guys that don’t convince me here is a player that I am completely pumped for. During his reduced season last year Martinez was a #1 outfield if you extrapolated the numbers over a full season. With the projection that he is batting right behind Miggy and V-Mart and in front of Cespedes he should be able to put up decent counting stats. In addition, there is 25-30 homer potential with a middle of the road average. So while all of this is hardly #1 potential I expect him to be a solid #2 outfielder who can be got for #3/#4 investment in the 9th round of 12 team leagues. While you can hardly call him a sleeper there is potential he could take last year’s breakout and ride with it to high end #2 numbers.

Late-round Speed: Rajai Davis, OF

While he won’t have full playing time Davis is far from useless for you as he can steal 30+ bases just in his limited playing time both as a platoon guy and a pitch runner. The issue you have with him is that SB’s are all you are really getting and with some of those steals coming as a pinch runner it isn’t even like you will be able to sit him when he doesn’t start. There will be weeks when he has good match-ups in the platoon and they are when it may be worth grabbing this speedster and plugging him in for a speed boost. An absolute last round pick if you are going to invest anything and that is only if you are desperate for steals.

Any Other Business:

  • Nick Castellanos, 3B: A third baseman who plays for the Tigers? Of course he got some Miggy comparisons when he was a prospect but unfortunately Castellanos is nothing more than a replacement level option at the hot corner. He should get a decent number of RBI batting low in that order but that is really all there is worth getting excited over. There are better gambles to take a punt on late in drafts.

You may have noticed through this series that platoon players don’t get a lot of time in my articles unless they offer elite speed or power and unfortunately Gose doesn’t offer it enough to be worth drafting in 12 team leagues. An injury in the outfield would open the opportunity for him to get to 600 AB’s and then he may be worth considering given he is batting second but right now he is a deep league guy only. As for Avila and Iglesias well they are low end options at weak positions. The best that can be said for either is you may consider Avila as a last round catcher in two catcher leagues (Yeah he is that exciting!).

 

Pitching

Projected Rotation:

  1. David Price
  2. Justin Verlander
  3. Anibal Sanchez
  4. Alfredo Simon
  5. Shane Greene

Fantasy Superstar: David Price

Pitching for a team with a stacked line-up is always good for a players wins totals and when that stacked line-up can also offer decent defensive back-up then a pitcher with superb talent is well and truly in that elite group. The potential wins makes up for the fact that he will put a slightly worse ERA and WHIP than the Sale, Hernandez pairing. In 2015 there is real potential for a 20 win 250 strikeout season.

Bounce Back?: Justin Verlander

It wasn’t that long ago that Verlander was in the first round conversation and now you can get him anywhere from the 12th round down to the 20th round depending on the format. Given how he has performed the last two years the 12th round is probably too early but the potential he may bounce back means the 20th is a bargain. The reason I am high on is due to a surgery he had last year on his abdomen, the surgery can leave pitchers struggling for the next 6 months to a year which could explain his issues last year. If that is the case then while I don’t expect Verlander to return to his ace status I do think he has #3 upside which can be got at a low investment.

Anibal Sanchez is the headline in the remainder of the bullpen but where he is going in drafts is roughly where I expect him to finish the season (low end #3/high end #4) so he isn’t someone that needs a huge amount of fanfare. The remaining two pitcher were acquired through trades with Simon coming from Cincy and Greene from New York. Of the two Greene excites me more but he is nothing more than a last round pick because there will be so much similar talent on the waiver wire through the season.

Projected Bullpen

CL: Joe Nathan

SU: Joakim Soria

SU: Joba Chamberlain

MR: Al Alburquerque

MR: Tom Gorzelanny

MR: Blaine Hardy

LR: Alex Wilson

DL: Bruce Rondon

This one of the more volatile bullpens right now even though they do have a locked in closer. Nathan was horrific at times last season and now facing a season with both Chamberlain and Soria breathing down his neck his ability to hold the job is something that scares me. Soria was once considered a close to elite closer when he was the main man in Kansas City prior to his injury woes. We saw in Texas last year that he is a good relief pitcher who should have no issue taking on the closer role if Nathan falters. In a 12 team 2 RP league I wouldn’t want to touch anyone in this situation but in leagues that allow 3+ RP’s then Nathan is a late round pick with Soria a potential last round flyer if you have a solid roster built already.

Prospect Report

  • James McCann, C: He should come up at some point but the chances he gets 250+ AB’s is slim. Even if he does get significant time due to injury or another form of opportunity he won’t be much more for you than Avila is right now.
  • Tyler Collins, OF: A September call up seems most likely to me with Davis being there to hoover up full time AB’s in the event of any injuries. If it does look like he is going to get significant then he may be worth a speculative add in 12+ team leagues where you start 5 OF’s and a UTIL..
  • Steven Moya OF: I expect Moyer to come up first out of the two Detroit OF prospects I have here but I expect he will be the least exciting of the two even though he should get more AB’s. Moya’s main contribution to fantasy in 2015 will be that he prevent Tyler Collins being fantasy relevant I fear.
  • Buck Farmer, SP: Farmer is the guy that benefits the most from a serious injury in the Detroit rotation but even then he isn’t an exciting pitching option that you will be rushing to grab.

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