One thing is for sure when it comes to the 162-game Major League Baseball season: there is no way for any team to bluff its way through it. You’re either good or you’re not.
But competition in each league and their divisions varies greatly. Right now, the weakness of the American League Central should mean that the 2010 Detroit Tigers have a decent chance of being in the thick of things come September.
It can be difficult to imagine a team being better after an off-season of lost free agents and starters. Placido Polanco, Curtis Granderson, Fernando Rodney, and several others left the Tigers with some big holes to fill. But I remain optimistic that, on average, the Tigers could be better in 2010 than in ’09 by running with some younger players and getting rid of competing egos in the clubhouse.
I vividly remember the 1987 Detroit Tigers season when the Tigers came back from an awful start and ended the year with the best record in baseball. The Tigers lost All-Star catcher Lance Parrish to free agency to the Philadelphia Phillies before the year started. Tigers fans were convinced that the season would be a wash. After all, how could the Tigers possibly be better after losing Parrish than they were during the mediocre season of 1986?
As it turns out, an unheard of player by the name of Matt Nokes stepped in and filled the massive shoes of Parrish. Pretty soon, the new players that Jim Campbell and Sparky Anderson had assembled started to gel with the core of the team. At times, the 1987 Tigers almost seemed better than the ’84 squad. They were more mature, better seasoned, and seemed more crafty.
There are no guarantees in life — let alone in Major League Baseball. But I truly believe that the Tigers have a legitimate shot at finishing at the top of the pack if just a few of the younger players on the roster are able to rise to the occasion.
Will Scott Sizemore, Rick Porcello, Austin Jackson, Alex Avila play up to their potential? Will at least one of the Tigers many overpaid, under-performing starting pitchers break out of their funk long enough to piece together a decent run? Will Jim Leyland get the most out of superstars Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander? Will there be any yet-to-be-known heroes coming out of Lakeland this spring? Will the team as a whole remain healthy?
I believe the Tigers have the talent to overcome the losses they have recently endured. Now is a time for Tigers fans to enjoy the optimism and hope that a new season affords them. Think positive. We could be on the verge of a 1987-like season all over again.