Fantasy Baseball Team Previews – Detroit Tigers

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The Detroit Tigers enter 2016 season jam packed with fantasy goodness; Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, and Ian Kinsler are still around, and they brought Jordan Zimmerman, Justin Upton and Francisco Rodriguez into the fold for this year. Zimmerman will be the ace of their rotation, Upton adds more power to an impressive lineup and Rodriguez should help stabilize the back end of the pitching staff. Lets take a look at the key hitters and pitchers for 2016 and a prospect who could make an impact as well.

Projected Starting Line-up

Ian Kinsler 2B

Ian Kinsler has lost some of his lustre over the years. He has become a more reliable player since heading to Detroit playing 150-plus games in three of the last four seasons. He is a guy whose batting average in the .260’s and .270’s where it was the four seasons prior to last year. He will have mashers behind him as you will soon see which should help his runs total assuming he can get on base. His stolen base total has come down over the years. He will be a fine option at second base but not sure i’m going out of my way to draft him. He will be outside my top 10 at second base unlike Ben Rolfe

Justin Upton OF

Justin Upton was the biggest offseason get for the Detroit Tigers as they look to reload and not rebuild. It looks as of now that Upton will be penciled into the two hole for the Tigers who is a career .350 plus OBP guy despite his downward trend each of the past two seasons. He may see some more consistency with Miguel Cabrera hitting behind him. He is poised to have a fantastic season where he can approach 100 runs and 100 RBI. He should be an elite option once again.

Miguel Cabrera 1B

The days of Miguel Cabrera as the top fantasy option are likely over but that doesn’t take him out of first round consideration. Injuries were an issue a season ago and hurt Miggy’s numbers. I expect another impressive season from Cabrera who will likely hit north of .320 and should get on base constantly. A 30- plus home run season is doable but the days north of 40 are likely done. An RBI total over 100 is very much in range especially with Upton now hitting in front of him.

J.D. Martinez OF

J.D. Martinez had his first 500 plus at bat season in 2015 and he produced with those at bats. He hit 38 home runs and 102 RBI with a .282 batting average. He has become a very good player since heading to Detroit. Another season with 30 plus home runs and approaching 100 RBI is reasonable to assume. He should come to the plate with people on base consistently and assuming he can get his average over .300 he could have a special season. He went 3.04 in the LABR mixed 14 team league. Early to mid third round feels like a reasonable place for Martinez to come off of the board.

Victor Martinez DH

2015 was a frustrating year for Victor Martinez and his owners. He hit under .300 for the first time since 2009 and played less than 150 games for the first time since 2010. Martinez did have knee surgery during spring training last season which likely hurt power and timing. I expect Martinez to be a nice buy low candidate this year. He should approach .300 batting average with a home run total in the neighborhood of 20. Like J.D. Victor should have plenty of RBI opportunities. He will lock up your utility spot which can frustrate owners but it should be worth it.

Nick Castellanos 3B

Nick Castellanos has an impressive glove at third but as fantasy owners that is not what we care about. In his two season get 500 plus at bats he is a .250 hitter that has average 13 home runs and 69.5 RBI. He’s nothing to go out of your way for but can be a decent corner option especially if you want to take a gamble on him taking a leap. You can always use the waiver wire if he shows much of the same in 2016.

James McCann C

Unless you play DFS or in two catcher leagues McCann isn’t a name to consider. He doesn’t do any one thing especially well.

Jose Iglesias SS

Jose Iglesias had moments in 2015 including a few hot streaks. He finished the season with a .300 batting average. He displays double digit steal potential. He is a useable middle infield option and that’s about it.

Cameron Maybin OF

Cameron Maybin is a great option late in drafts. He will give you speed and has the ability to swipe 25 plus bases assuming he gets 500 plus at bats. Hitting 9th he can serve as a second leadoff hitter when the lineup turns over ideally putting him in position to put up a nice runs scored total. Even if you don’t draft Maybin keep him in the back of your mind when you need outfield help off of the waiver wire.

Projected Rotation

Can Verlander recover some of his past glories in 2016?

Can Verlander recover some of his past glories in 2016?

Jordan Zimmerman

Jordan Zimmerman was brought in this winter to be the ace of the Tigers staff. I don’t think he is a true ace that fantasy owners will want to build their rotation around but can be valuable. Consistency and availability will be his best asset. He will give you north of 160 strikeouts and close to 200 innings. He was top 20 a season ago in strikeout to walk ratio. I would expect much of the same this season in Detroit. Look to draft Zimmerman in double digit rounds

Justin Verlander

Justin Verlander had a bounce back season of sorts a season ago. It looked like he had lost what had made him a valuable fantasy option and got so bad that some wondered if he was a major league caliber starter a season ago. He finally got his strikeout to walk rate over three which is a positive sign. I worry his name value get him drafted higher than i would feel comfortable taking him. He is a good gamble in the middle rounds if you need strikeouts, but don’t grab him before then.

Anibal Sanchez

The season Sanchez had in 2013 with 200 strikeouts feels like the exception and not the rule. He has battled injuries and inconsistency the past two seasons. With the amount of pitching that can be found this season Sanchez is a guy I will look to avoid.

Daniel Norris

Daniel Norris was the big get in last seasons David Price trade. He will get his first full season in the Majors this season. He is a guy i want to buy in dynasty but for those in redraft leagues im grabbing Norris as a late round flier if I take him at all.

Mike Pelfrey

Mike Pelfrey had moments in 2015 when he started off strong but regression caught up with Pelfrey. He will likely have streamable moments in 2016 but that’s about it.


Francisco Rodriguez

Francisco Rodriguez was brought in this winter to be the team’s closer in 2016. They tried to make Joe Nathan work in the last two season. 2014 was underwhelming including his ERA ballooning over 4. 2015 was cut very short due to a torn UCL. They used a group of players until they were able to land Joakim Soria. Rodriguez will hopefully bring stability and reliability to the role. He was impressive in 2015 with a 2.20 and .86 WHIP in 60 appearances for the Milwaukee Brewers. Ben Rolfe had Rodriguez has his 17th rated closer for points league , which may be a little lower than I would rank him, but still close. If I can get him in the bottom third of drafts I’ll be very happy. Mark Lowe and Bruce Rondon are names to watch if something happens to K-Rod.

Prospect Potential

Micael Fulmer

How soon can Fulmer impact the Tigers? (Gordon Donovan)

Michael Fulmer

Michael Fulmer was the prize the Tigers received in the deal that sent Yoenis Cespedes to the New York Mets. ESPN’s Keith Law has Fulmer at 48 in his top 50 prospects. he believes, “He’s probably ready for the majors now, but since there’s no room at the inn in Detroit, he’ll likely start the year in Triple-A. With little left for him to work on, he should be the first starter recalled when there’s an opening in the Tigers’ rotation.” Between Sanchez’s injury history and Pelfrey not being that good it may be safe to think Fulmer could be up sooner than later. If he is available in your keeper or dynasty league he is worth an add if you have room.


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