The Detroit Tigers finished with the worst record in Major League Baseball last season with a 47-114 record. That .292 winning percentage was one of the worst in MLB history and had many fans in the Motor City tuning the team out by Mother’s Day.
But with each new year brings hope and optimism. While the 2020 Tigers will not be contending for anything of importance, this could be the first year of the rebuild that shows some promise.
With spring training getting underway yesterday, baseball is in the air and the regular season will be here before we know it. So without further adieu, I will give you five bold predictions for the Detroit Tigers heading into the 2020 season that will excite fans and give them hope heading into 2021 and beyond.
- The Detroit Tigers Will Improve Their Win Total by at Least 15- I know, I know. A 15-win jump for the worst team in baseball seems like a stretch. But hear me out. After going 47-114 last season, there really isn’t anywhere else to go but up. While I fully expect the Tigers to be bad once again this year, I think they will be more competitive and win more games. The 2019 season for Detroit was historically bad and was their worst season in terms of losses and winning percentage since the 2003 team. And boy, do Tiger fans remember that team. That ’03 team has the 10th worst winning percentage in MLB history and set an American League record for losses with 119. Also, the Tigers have only won less than 62 games in a season 15 times in their 119-year existence and haven’t went consecutive seasons without 62 wins since 2002-2003 when they won 55 and 43 games, respectively.
- Miguel Cabrera Will Join the 500 Home Run Club- While Miguel Cabrera will go down as one of the greatest right-handed hitters of all time, he has struggled mightily the past few seasons in the Motor City. Nagging injuries and getting older have taken their toll on Miggy in recent years. But the 11-time All-Star and former MVP is only 23 home runs away from joining the prestigious club and is entering spring training relatively healthy and a lot thinner than last year. While he has only hit 31 home runs over the last three seasons (16 in 2017, 3 in 2018 and 12 in 2019), I fully believe this is the year Cabrera returns to form. I know he will never put up his Triple Crown numbers of 2012, but I don’t think it is a reach to think he can still hit 25-30 dingers a year if healthy. If he reaches it, he would become the 28th player to reach the milestone.
- The Tigers Will Have at Least Three Players Hit 20 or More Home Runs- If you think this is a strange (and somewhat weak) prediction, I would normally agree with you. But then you must have not watched much Tiger baseball in 2019 (which I can’t blame you). They hit the second fewest home runs in baseball with 149 total, which was only ahead of the Miami Marlins with 146. But the catch here is that every team, even the Marlins, had at least two players with 20 or more home runs. Except, you guessed it, the Detroit Tigers. Brandon Dixon, who only played in 117 games, led the team with 15 round trippers. But the Tigers added some free-agents with pop in their bats. First basemen C.J. Cron hit 25 last year with Minnesota and 30 the year before with Tampa Bay. Second baseball Jonathan Schoop hit 23 with the Twins last year and has gone four consecutive seasons with 21 or more homers. With those two, and guys like Cabrera and Christin Stewart with the potential to hit for power, I think this team will hit a lot more home runs in 2020 than in 2019.
- Matthew Boyd Will Finish in the Top-Five of the AL Cy Young Voting- Last year was by far the most impressive of Matt Boyd’s young career. The 29-year old lefty, in his fourth full season in The Show, went 9-12 with a 4.56 earned-run average. While that may not seem like potential Cy Young nominee material, Boyd has some great stuff. Beyond his win-loss record and ERA, he had some great numbers. He pitched a career-high 185.1 innings and racked up 238 strikeouts. His strikeout total was good for 10th in all of Major League Baseball and 6th in the American League. Boyd also had a 1.23 walks/hits per inning pitched (WHIP), which was good for 9th in the AL. His K/9 rate was 11.558, which was 6th in the MLB and 4th in the AL. One bad stat for Boyd was home runs allowed, which was 39. That was the most given up in the Junior Circuit and second most in all of baseball. So while Boyd has some stuff to clean up, I think he has the potential and arsenal, if he can rein in the long ball, to be a Cy Young contender.
- Joe Jimenez Will Rack Up 30 or More Saves- Joe Jimenez was once thought of as the future closer of the Detroit Tigers. And while he has had a few opportunities here or there, he has never had the job full-time. But after the Tigers traded Shane Greene at the trade deadline last season, Jimenez took over the job. He went 9-10 on save opportunities over the last two months of the season and looks poised to start the year as the closer. A 2018 All-Star, Jimenez has filthy swing-and-miss stuff and always has a high K/9 rate. I think this is his year to finally live up to his potential and I believe the Tigers will win 60+ games this year and Jimenez will come in and get the save in about half of those games.
While this year will most likely still be painful for most Detroit fans to watch, I think it will be a more fun and exciting season in the D. Besides these bold predictions coming true, the Tigers have a plethora of young and talented players in their farm system that are going to be knocking on the door from Toledo and Erie looking for time with the big league club. Guys like Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Tarik Skubal and Isaac Paredes are all highly touted and should be in Detroit sooner rather than later.
So don’t fret, Motor City fans. While things may seem bleak at the moment and have been tough to swallow the past few seasons, this year could be the beginning of something special.
All stats are courtesy of ESPN.com, MLB.com and Baseball-Reference.com.