Did the Detroit Tigers Have a Successful Season?

The Tigers have been dominate in the past few years.

The Detroit Tigers lost 119 games in 2003 and finished fifth out of five teams in the AL Central for the third straight year. Since then, the Tigers have made four playoff runs: two trips to the World Series and two more ALCS appearances. 

Detroit has now won their division each of the past three years.

Led by Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander, the Tigers have a powerful roster on the mound and at the plate the last few years. In 2013, Detroit won 93 games and made it all the way to the sixth game of the ALCS before falling to the eventual World Champion Boston Red Sox.

While a team victory is preferable to individual achievement, taking home the AL MVP (Miguel Cabrera) and AL Cy Young Award (Max Scherzer) is still an impressive accomplishment. But it wasn’t just those two that brought the Tigers to the brink of back-to-back World Series appearances in Jim Leyland’s final season.


The Tigers ended 2012 with a weakness in the bullpen: closer Jose Valverde aka “Papa Grande” had a rough season and was leaving via free agency with prospect Bruce Rondon almost, but not quite, ready to take over. When Rondon didn’t lock down the ninth inning at the start of the season there was some chaos, including re-signing Valverde, before Joaquin Benoit ascended to the job.

It’s difficult to win the World Series in consecutive years and it’s pretty tough to even make it through the playoff meat grinder in back-to-back seasons. But the Tigers came close.

Benoit was more than capable: a 2.01 ERA, 27.6% strikeout rate, and 73/22 K/BB ratio in 67 innings helped the veteran record 24 saves. With their 2013 headed to San Diego and Joe Nathan in the fold, the 2014 Tigers won’t have any question about who pitches at the end of games.

Bruce Rondon, just 22 years old, had a few rough outings but finished with a 3.45 ERA, 24.6% strikeout rate, and 30/11 K/BB. Maybe by 2016, when Joe Nathan’s deal will have expired, he’ll be ready to take the ball every time there’s a lead to protect.

Jose Valverde pitched just 19.1 innings in his return to the Tigers with an unsightly 5.59 ERA, 22.6% strikeout rate, and 19/6 K/BB. He did manage to save nine games, but it wasn’t pretty.

Drew Smyly, who has started and relieved for the Tigers at the major league level, spent 2013 in the bullpen and tossed 76 innings of 2.37 ERA baseball to go with a 26.7% strikeout rate and 81/17 K/BB. The southpaw’s strikeout-to-walk ratio was actually the best on the team. Smyly tossed just three innings across six appearances during the postseason, being used as a lefty specialist rathan than a setup man, which likely hurt the Tigers as Jim Leyland kept one of his best weapons during the regular season on the bench rather than on the mound.

Al Alburquerque struck out seventy batters in just 49 innings — a 31.8% strikeout rate — with a 4.59 ERA. He was a bit wild with 34 walks but the talent is there if he can limit the free passes.


The Tigers had one of the deepest rotations in baseball in 2013 and everyone took their lead from the top: Max Scherzer. The right-hander with heterochromia had a 2.90 ERA, 28.7% strikeout rate, and 240/56 K/BB in 214.1 innings in his Cy Young season. For the heck of it he helped out the traditionalists by going 21-3 during the regular season. One of those losses was to the Red Sox who ended up winning both games Scherzer pitched in the ALCS despite good efforts each time.

Justin Verlander had a down season, for him at least, with a 3.46 ERA, 23.5% strikeout rate, and 217/75 K/BB ratio. Verlander still led the Tigers rotation with 218.1 innings and in the postseason, the ace allowed just a single run in twenty-three innings.

The staff leader in ERA was neither Verlander nor Scherzer but the third of the three-headed-monster, Anibal Sanchez. In his first full season with the Tigers, after coming over in a deadline trade in 2012, Sanchez had perhaps his best season in the majors. A 2.57 ERA, career-high 27.1% strikeout rate, and 202/54 in 182 innings. Sanchez has made the transition from the National League to the American League without the slightest pause and should once again set up the Tigers for a dominant rotation in 2014.

Doug Fister flew under the radar with a 3.67 ERA, 18.1% strikeout rate, and 159/44 K/BB ratio in 208.2 innings. Fister was acquired by the Washington Nationals during the offseason for prospect Robbie Ray, utility man Steve Lombardozzi, and lefty reliever Ian Krol. Fister is a loss to the 2014 team, but the Tigers think that Drew Smyly moving back to the rotation will compensate for the loss.

The starting pitcher many thought to be on the trading block but finds himself still in Detroit: Rick Porcello. Despite five seasons in the majors, Porcello is still just 25 years old, celebrating his birthday in December. 

In 2013 Porcello posted the second-best ERA of his career (4.32) and struck out batters at a higher rate than ever before (19.3% vs. 13.7% previous high in 2012). Although his walks were up a tick (5.7% vs. 5.6% in 2012), thanks to the increased strikeout rate, he set a personal best with a 142/42 K/BB. This might just be the tip of the iceberg, but even repeating 2013 would be a feather in his cap next season.


What can be said about Miguel Cabrera at this point? The 30-year-old played a poor third base but actually improved at the plate from his Triple Crown 2012 to win a second consecutive AL MVP award. Cabrera hit .348 with a .442 on-base percentage and .636 slugging mark. He he 44 home runs, 26 home doubles, and struck out just four more times than he walked. With the trade of Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers, Cabrera will likely transition back to first base for 2014. Prospect Nick Castellanos is expected to take over the hot corner.

Before getting shipped off to the Rangers, Prince Fielder had something of a down season. Hitting .279/.362/.457 with 25 home runs, Fielder saw his slugging percentage drop to it’s lowest mark since 2010 and despite playing in all 162 games (fourth time in the last five years) had the lowest home run total of his career. The Rangers will hope that it was just one down year and that the friendly confines of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington will help him return to form.

Jhonny Peralta was named in the Biogenesis investigation and served a suspension during 2013 but still hit .303/.358/.457 with 11 home runs in one of the better seasons of the shortstop’s career. Peralta left in free agency to join the St. Louis Cardinals and will be replaced by Jose Iglesias, a glove-first shortstop. Iglesias hit .259/.306/.348 in 148 plate appearances after being acquired from the Boston Red Sox.

Second baseman Omar Infante bounced back for a .318/.345/.450 season in 2013. Infante hit 10 home runs and stole five bases on his way to earning a four-year, $30.25 million contract from the Kansas City Royals. Ian Kinsler, coming off a down year, will take over in 2014 after being acquired from the Rangers for Prince Fielder.

Designated hitter Victor Martinez, who missed all of the 2012 season due to injuries, rebounded to hit .301/.355/.430 with 14 home runs. Martinez played some first base (11 games) and made three appearances behind the plate, but will likely see most of his time at DH going forward, much to the chagrin of fantasy players.

Torii Hunter, in his first season as a Tiger, hit .304/.334/.465 as a 37-year-old who continues to get the job done. While Hunter isn’t as fast as he once was and no longer plays center field, he still had enough power to muscle 17 balls over the fence.

Detroit’s center fielder, Austin Jackson, had another solid season: .272/.337/.417 with 12 home runs and 8 stolen bases. Jackson did manage to reach home plate once he got on base though while scoring 99 runs.

Alex Avila hasn’t come anywhere close to tying his 2011 line of .295/.389/.506 with 19 home runs in either of the following seasons. 2013 was another step back for the catcher who hit just .227 with a .317 on-base and .376 slugging mark.

Andy Dirks (.256/.323/.417) and Don Kelly (222/.309/.343) covered left field and left much to be desired.


It’s difficult to win the World Series in consecutive years and it’s pretty tough to even make it through the playoff meat grinder in back-to-back seasons. But the Tigers came close.

A rotation led by Verlander, Scherzer, and Sanchez has one of the best top three of any team in baseball and even without a good lineup can carry a team far.

Thankfully for the Tigers, they have a not-so-secret weapon in Miguel Cabrera, one of the best players ever to put on a uniform.

2013 didn’t end how fans, players, and ownership wanted, but it would be nearly impossible to ask for more than what the Tigers did and expect not to be disappointed.

See related posts:

Did the Los Angeles Dodgers Have a Successful Season?

Did the Tampa Bay Rays Have a Successful Season?

Did the Atlanta Braves Have a Successful Season?

Did the Pittsburgh Pirates Have a Successful Season?

Did the Oakland A's Have a Successful Season?

Did the Cincinnati Reds Have a Successful Season?

Did the Cleveland Indians Have a Successful Season?

Did the Texas Rangers Have a Successful Season?

Did the San Diego Padres Have a Successful Season?

Did the Houston Astros Have a Successful Season?

Did the New York Mets Have a Successful Season?

Did the Miami Marlins Have a Successful Season?

Did the New York Yankees Have a Successful Season?

Did the Chicago White Sox Have a Successful Season?

Did the San Francisco Giants Have a Successful Season?

Did the Colorado Rockies Have a Successful Season?

Did the Toronto Blue Jays Have a Successful Season?

Did the Minnesota Twins Have a Successful Season?

Did the Milwaukee Brewers Have a Successful Season?

Did the Chicago Cubs Have a Successful Season?

Did the Seattle Mariners Have a Successful Season?

Did the Arizona Diamondbacks Have a Successful Season?

Did the Los Angeles Angels Have a Successful Season?

Did the Philadelphia Phillies Have a Successful Season?

Did the Washington Nationals Have a Successful Season?

Did the Kansas City Royals Have a Successful Season?

Did the Baltimore Orioles Have a Successful Season?

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