As we head into next season, we'll look at middle-tier impact players and/or sleepers on each team's roster. Some of these names are poised to make big jumps in value next season. Some of the players are just safer decisions, which will give your team a solid return. We hit on the Marlins last article and today we examine the Detroit Tigers.
Fantasy Prep 2011: Armed Tigers
Friday January 14th, 2011
The Detroit Tigers were as mediocre as you can get in 2010, finishing with an 81-81 record which was good for third place in the American League Central. Miguel Cabrera (.328/.420/.622, 38 HR 126 RBI) was anything but mediocre, as he carried the offense and almost walked away with the A.L. MVP award. General Manager Dave Dombrowski went out this offseason and got some offensive help for Cabrera in the form of free agent catcher Victor Martinez. Martinez will see most of his time at DH, but will still be eligible at the very thin catcher spot for fantasy owners. Martinez and Cabrera along with Justin Verlander give fantasy owners their three go-to-guys in Tiger uniforms come draft day. There are a few Tigers under the radar that could have a surprising impact on the 2011 season and push your fantasy team over the top.
Max Scherzer - SP (195.2 IP, 3.50 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 184 K)
Scherzer had a very solid 2010 season despite a demotion to Triple-A for two weeks in May. The demotion was a wake up call for the former first round pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The right-hander went 11-7 with a 2.46 ERA after being called back up to the big club. Scherzer has been highly touted since being drafted out of University of Missouri in 2006. He has shown flashes of greatness in each of his first three seasons, but has lacked consistency, which is common to many young pitchers. The St. Louis native took a huge step after his demotion last season and became much more aggressive in the strike zone. Consequently his walks went down and his effectiveness went way up. This will be Max's fourth season in the majors and he is slotted to fill the number two spot in the Tigers' rotation. This could finally be the season where it all comes together for Scherzer, giving the Tigers a much feared one-two punch at the top of their rotation. According to Mock Draft Central, Scherzer's average draft position among starting pitchers is 50th. He could be a tremendous value late in your draft.
Rick Porcello - SP (162 IP, 4.92 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 84 K)
Rick burst upon the scene for the Tigers in 2009 creating huge expectations for him in 2010. Porcello failed to meet those expectations and took a big step back last season with an ERA almost a run higher than it was in 2009. The New Jersey native was a sexy pick for fantasy owners in 2010 and a year later he seems to have fallen off the fantasy baseball radar, as his average draft position in mock drafts among starting pitchers is 95. Porcello still has tremendous upside and just like Scherzer, he seemed to learn a lot from his mid-season demotion to the minors last year. He is a former first round draft pick and the ability is still there, so look for the right-hander to have a season like the one he had in 2009.
Casper Wells - OF (99 PA, .323/.364/.538, 4 HR, 17 RBI)
It was definitely a small sample size, but when Wells was called up in last season, he produced at the plate. The Tigers enter the season without Johnny Damon in left field and with an aging Magglio Ordonez in right field. Ryan Raburn was just signed to an extension to be Detroit's every day left fielder, but Wells is a natural right fielder. Ordonez is 36-years old and injuries along with age have caught up with him. Wells appears to be a promising hitter who took a big step forward last season hitting by hitting 21 home runs in Triple-A. Look for Wells to start the year back in Toledo but keep an eye on Ordonez, if he struggles with injuries Wells should be the guy the Tigers call up first and if he hits like he did last season he may be in Detroit for a long time to come.
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