2018 Detroit Tigers Expert Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
The Tigers are following an interesting recipe - wait until the last minute to admit you are rebuilding and then do it in the most soul-crushing way that almost guarantees to be long and painful. I don't know how fun it has ever been to be a fan of the Tigers - at least in a couple of decades - but this is going to be as bad as it has ever been. It's as if they watched the Marlins totally dismantle their team and felt like they had been challenged to prove that they could be better at being awful. But how bad can this team be? And will they provide any sneaky value for bettors at any point along the way?
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Tigers 2018 Projected Lineup
Starting at the trade deadline this team has sold everything they possibly could. Justin Verlander, Justin Upton, J.D. Martinez, Alex Avila, Justin Wilson and Ian Kinsler are all out the door. With so much change, this is obviously going to look like a much different team. And there are obviously some players on that list that really aren't going to be easy to replace.
The problem - or one of them, anyway - is that the team can't fully commit because they are stuck with some incredibly ugly contracts that they can't move. Victor Martinez is an anchor, but at least he's done after this year. And it's Miguel Cabrera who is really the problem. The future hall of famer is 35 but playing like he is 55. Last year was by far his worst in his career, he can't seem to stay healthy, and the team still owes him $184 million until 2023. Best-case scenario the Tigers could maybe deal him in a couple of years if he returned to MVP levels and showed he could stay there. But he won't, and they will be stuck with him. For all the talk of the problems with the salary structure in the league this winter, Cabrera is one of the examples that no one can defend - the Albert Pujols of the Midwest.
The Tigers might not be done dealing. When you are trying to rebuild as completely as this squad is there is no point in playing any established guys who could have value elsewhere. It just gets in the way of developing youngsters, and the veterans can get you more picks and prospects for the future. It's not the Philadelphia 76ers process, but the Tigers are in a process of their own. Nick Castellanos is a guy a few teams would want, for example, and Jose Iglesias could help a team that needs a shortstop as well.
The one thing to remember when looking at this roster is that change will be the only constant. They don't have a lot of locked in guys - Cabrera and Martinez will get their reps, and Castellanos and Iglesias also will as long as they are in town. But beyond that they aren't attached to anyone and will be trying all sorts of things to try to get as close to respectable as they can. In a perfect world a team in a position like this would just take a hiatus for a couple of years and then come back when they are ready to try to compete again. That obviously can't happen, so we are forced to watch this daily debacle.
Tigers 2018 Projected Rotation and Closer
Verlander is gone. Anibal Sanchez left as a free agent. That doesn't leave a whole lot. Michael Fulmer is the No. 1 starter, but the chances of him lasting the year without being traded are almost microscopic if he is healthy. The team would love to deal Jordan Zimmermann, but he is pitching terribly and is owed $74 million over three years, so he's as tradeable as Cabrera. Mike Fiers and freaking Francisco Liriano (the guy is like a cockroach - he just keeps finding teams to pay him) were free agent additions who the Tigers spared from the scrap heap. They won't give much but could potentially be attractive at the deadline for bullpen depth if they are decent enough. Daniel Norris is young, but he was supposed to be a solid star a few years back when he came over from Toronto, and we just aren't seeing that. And Matthew Boyd probably couldn't make the rotation of 20 teams, but he could be the second starter here. This is a really bad rotation, and it will only get worse as the team squeezes value through trades out of any guy who shows a spark.
Shane Greene will likely start as the closer - a lonely job on a team that can't win - but he's another trade piece. Beyond that the bullpen is likely to be a revolving door as any guy who pitches reasonably well in the pen will get a chance to start, and they will constantly have to find guys to eat up innings. Don't be surprised if you see relievers wearing name tags because they may not recognize each other otherwise.
Tigers Futures Odds
It is going to be an exceptionally long year in Detroit. BetOnline has them tied with the Marlins as the longest shot on the board to win the World Series at +25000. If you are tied with the Marlins at anything right now then you are doing it wrong. The Tigers are also, by a wide margin, the longest shot to win the AL - they are at +12500, with a group of three teams next at +5000. And they are tied at +3300 to win the AL Central with the White Sox, so far behind the heavily-favored Indians at -500 that it's almost as if the teams are playing different sports. The season win total sits at 67.5, and neither side has the edge in early betting. Miguel Cabrera is a longshot to win the home run crown at +8000.
Tigers 2018 Predictions
Terrible team. Awful. Basically hopeless. I see serious value in the "under" on the season win total. If this squad doesn't lose 100 games then they should have a parade, because that will be as impressive an accomplishment as winning the World Series will be for the eventual champ.
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