Are the playoffs a reality for the Tigers?
It’s hard to believe it, but the 2011 Major League Baseball season is under way.
And with a new season come the hopes and dreams for Detroit Tigers fans across Michigan.
Since their improbable run to the World Series in 2006, Tiger fans have been begging for another shot at a championship.
This season’s Tigers will have to overcome a tough division to capture the American League Central.
The Minnesota Twins are always a tough challenge for the Tigers, and the Chicago White Sox are returning with a revamped roster.
Even if the Tigers manage to have a good season and finish second in the Central, making the playoffs with the AL Wild Card spot will be unlikely with the depth of the teams in the AL East: the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays. I believe that a wild card spot is out of the question.
The Tigers have plenty of playoff-capable, top-notch talent. But, as the previous seasons have shown, just because the Tigers have the talent, does not mean that they will make the playoffs.
You can blame whomever you want for the Tigers’ shortcomings the previous three seasons — Jim Leyland, the pitching rotation, but fact remains — the Tigers have not gotten the job done.
By the end of the 2010 season, it looked like the Tigers were on the right path. Miguel Cabrera was a finalist for the AL Most Valuable Player award and Justin Verlander nearly won 20 games.
Then Cabrera went and suicided his spring training with his DUI arrest.
Maybe that was no big deal for many fans, but to me it shook the foundation of the Tigers. How can your best player be so irresponsible?
So here the Tigers are again. Will 2011 end like 2009 and 2010 did? Only time, 162 games’ worth, will reveal that answer.
The Tigers have made some nice additions this season, including Brad Penny who brings some experience to the pitching staff. But Penny has had an up-and-down career, performing well at times and not so well at other times.
Catcher Victor Martinez will be the Tigers’ best addition, bringing stability behind the plate for the first time since Pudge Rodriguez was calling the shots. Martinez brings one Silver Slugger and four all-star appearances to a Tigers lineup that needs solid offense and defense.
I really hope the Tigers will make a push for the playoffs this season, but I don’t think their time is now. I see the Tigers finishing over .500 but I can’t see them knocking Minnesota off the top of the AL Central mountain.