(WKZO) – The only thing I know is that expectations for the Tigers this season are World Series or bust. Other than that, anything could happen over the next six months that could easily derail the Tigers from reaching their goal. Here are my bold and maybe not so bold predictions about what I think will happen this season.
1. Al Alburquerque will be the Tigers closer. Not at first, but he will win the job over Joaquin Benoit and Phil Coke by the second week in April. A career 6 walks per 9 innings and 7 walks in 13 spring training innings is a little concerning but he allows so few hits and strikes out so many that the control issue shouldn’t a problem. Benoit is better suited as the 8th inning guy while Coke isn’t effective enough against righties to be the closer.
2. Matt Tuiasosopo will not be on the Tigers roster in June. I’ve never wanted to be more wrong but numbers just don’t lie. Tuiasosopo is a career .308 hitter in spring training but during the regular season, the average drops to .178. Some guys just hit better in spring training, ask Ryan Raburn. Because of Quintin Berry’s speed I think he fills the role of the fourth outfielder better and will get called up when Tuiasosopo struggles against major league pitching.
3. However if there is an injury in the outfield Nick Castellanos will be the called up before Berry. He needs consistent at bats, which he’ll get playing every day in Toledo, and unless he can get at bats every day in Detroit, he needs to stay in Toledo.
4. Torii Hunter will go down as one of the best free agent signings from this past off-season. He’s not going to repeat his 2012 season where he hit .313. .285 is more realistic. That’s a huge upgrade over what the Tigers were offering up in the 2 spot last season. But it’s the defense he’ll provide in right field where he’ll make his presence felt. The spacious gap in right center field at Comerica Park gets a lot smaller with Hunter in the outfield.
5. Austin Jackson will be a 20/20 guy this season. AJ has said that he wants to steal more bases this season. He only wasn’t overly successful swiping bases in 2012 but he also wasn’t healthy all year. I think this year he is closer to the 27 stolen base total he had during his rookie season. Jackson’s home run total has increased every season as well. He had 16 in 137 games in 2012 following a 2011 season in which he had 10. His strike out total will continue to decrease, increasing the amount of times he goes yard.
6. Prince Fielder will hit 40 home runs. Another year getting used to American League pitching plus the addition of V-Mart to the lineup equals the most home runs for Fielder since 2009.
7. We will hear rumors all summer of potential Rick Porcello trades but he will remain a Tiger. This will be Rick Porcello’s breakout season. With Porcello the Tigers have the best rotation in baseball. Without Porcello they still have one of the best rotations but unless some team makes Dave Dombrowski an offer he can’t refuse, Ricky stays in Detroit.
8. The Tigers will have six All-Stars. Cabrera, Verlander, Prince, V-Mart, join first timers Max Scherzer and Austin Jackson in NYC for the Midsummer Classic.
9. The Tigers will win 100 games. The rotation is better, the lineup is better and they play in a weak division. If the closer situation doesn’t become an issue 100 wins is more than possible.
10. Tigers will win the World Series over Washington in an epic seven game series.
11. It’s going to be a great season, hold on and get ready, the marathon has just begun!