2015 Detroit Tigers Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
by Alan Matthews - 3/31/2015
Is the championship window closing for the Detroit Tigers in 2015? I do believe this is the final year this club has a shot at the World Series with stars like Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera entering the downside of their careers while carrying crippling salaries for the next several years.
It's been a great four-year run for the Tigers as they have won the AL Central each season -- no other team can claim division titles in each of the past four seasons. Alas, the Tigers have reached the World Series just once in that span and they were swept as betting favorites in 2012 by San Francisco.
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Last year the Tigers won 90 games, edging Kansas City by one for the Central title. Detroit was a pretty solid favorite for the ALDS against AL East winner Baltimore because the Tigers had Cy Young winners lined up to start the first three games in Max Scherzer, Verlander and David Price. The Orioles swept the series, largely because the Tigers bullpen imploded. The bullpen also was the reason the Tigers lost the 2013 ALCS to Boston. Yet it doesn't appear to have been fixed this offseason.
Tigers owner Mike Ilitch has been very generous in really spending more in payroll than he should, and it's going to start catching up to the franchise. Detroit opens the season next Monday against the Twins.
Tigers 2015 Projected Lineup
Detroit led the majors in batting average and was second in runs, on-base percentage and slugging last season. It should be excellent again as long as Cabrera and Victor Martinez, especially, stay healthy. It looks like both veterans will be ready for Opening Day. Cabrera underwent right ankle surgery start of the offseason season to remove bone spurs and a stress fracture. Martinez underwent left knee surgery in early February after tearing the meniscus. The only significant loss from the every-day lineup in the offseason was outfielder Torii Hunter returning to Minnesota.
Second baseman Ian Kinsler is projected to lead off again. He was acquired last offseason in a trade with Texas for Prince Fielder, and that looks like a major steal for Detroit considering Fielder's health and salary. Kinsler hit .275 with 17 homers and 92 RBIs. He'll likely be followed by center fielder Anthony Gose, who was traded from Toronto. I'm not sure Gose will hit much, but he'll steal bases and play terrific defense. He batted .226 in 2014 with a .311 on-base percentage and 15 stolen bases in 94 games, mainly in relief of injured Colby Rasmus in Toronto. Rajai Davis also will play center field at times (or spell guys in left or right).
The 3-4-5 group looks as good as anyone's with Cabrera at first base, the DH Martinez and new left fielder Yoenis Cespedes. I think Cabrera is done flirting with (or winning) Triple Crowns as he will be 32 on April 18. Nagging injuries have started to creep in. Miggy still played 159 games last year and hit .313 with 25 dingers and 109 RBIs. Most everyone claims he's in amazing shape this spring. The Tigers vastly overpaid to keep Martinez from leaving as a free agent, giving him a four-year, $68 million extension. He was amazing in 2014, batting .335 with 32 homers and 103 RBIs. I'm not sold he will stay healthy at age 36. He has been dealing with some soreness in that knee, so there's a chance Martinez might not be ready for the first few games of the season. Cespedes was the team's big acquisition, traded from Boston for pitcher Rick Porcello. Cespedes hit .260 with 22 homers and 100 RBIs last year and has the added motivation of free agency next winter.
One of the biggest surprises in the AL in 2014 was Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez, who hit .315 with 23 homers and 76 RBIs, and he bats sixth. This guy had never shown anything like that in his first three big-league seasons in Houston, so I'm very skeptical. Martinez could hit fifth and Cespedes sixth. The rest of the lineup: catcher Alex Avila (.218, 11 HRs, 47 RBIs), third baseman Nick Castellanos (.259, 11 HRs, 66 RBIs) and shortstop Jose Iglesias. He was acquired from Boston during the 2013 season but didn't play at all last year due to injury. Iglesias won't hit much but is a wizard on defense.
Tigers 2015 Projected Rotation & Closer
Two huge losses here in Scherzer, the No. 1 free agent on the market this winter, and Porcello. Scherzer, who got $215 million from Washington, was simply the best pitcher in the American League the past two seasons. He followed his 2013 Cy Young campaign with an 18-5 record, 3.15 ERA and 252 strikeouts in 220.1 innings in 2014. Porcello had his best season, going 15-13 with a 3.43 ERA and is only 26. But the Tigers may have smartly sold high on him.
The new ace is Price, who will be a free agent next winter, and I doubt signs an extension before then. The lefty wasn't great after coming over from Tampa Bay at the trade deadline, going 4-4 with a 3.59 ERA in 11 starts. Not bad numbers obviously but not what you expect from him. Already there are injury concerns about Verlander, who might start the season on the DL with a triceps injury. Verlander has been regressing since his 2011 Cy Young season. He was 15-12 with a 4.54 ERA last year. He's 32 and with an ungodly amount of innings on that arm/elbow/shoulder. His contract looks really bad.
Anibal Sanchez (8-5, 3.43 ERA) had his own injury problems last year, and he'll be followed by new additions Alfredo Simon (15-10, 3.44 ERA with Reds) and Shane Greene (5-4, 3.78 with Yankees). Simon was an All-Star in 2014, but I told you then it was a fluke. He was terrible after the break and I think gets torched in the AL. Greene's OK.
The Tigers had no choice but to bring back Joe Nathan as closer because of his big contract. He blew seven saves, had a 4.81 ERA in 2014 and is 40 years old. Be very afraid, Tigers fans.
Tigers Futures Odds & 2014 Trends
At Bovada , Detroit is +1600 to win the World Series, +800 to take the pennant, +225 co-favorite with the White Sox in the AL Central and with an "over/under" wins total of 84.5 (both -115). Cabrera is +700 to win another AL MVP and +1600 to lead the majors in homers. He has totals of .315, 30.5 HRs and 110.5 RBIs. Price is +550 to win the Cy Young with totals of 15.5 wins, 220.5 strikeouts and a 3.25 ERA. The Tigers were 78-84 against the spread last season and 84-72-6 O/U. On the moneyline, they were -380 units on the year.
Tigers 2015 Predictions
FanGraphs projects Detroit to finish 84-78 and tied with Cleveland for first in the AL Central. Really tough projecting the Central because, sure, the Tigers could win it. So could the Indians. Or White Sox. Maybe Royals. I don't think the Tigers do. Still, I'm going over those wins as they should still get to around 87-88 because of that lineup. But the pitching staff concerns me. Go under all on Cabrera. Over all on Price, who could be traded by July 31.
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