Ballpark guesses 

Quizzing Tiger fans about the coming year — will they knock it out of the park?

Just win, baby. That motto, attributed to legendary Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, is everything a fan could want in a team owner. Despite hibernating during his first decade of baseball team ownership, these days that same motto can just as easily be attributed to Tigers owner Mike Ilitch. With the Tigers already a strong contender to repeat as division winners, the 82-year-old doubled down and added $214 million to the payroll for a superstar with obvious area ties, Prince Fielder. To hell with balanced books or profit margins; with time and patience running low, it's now or never for Ilitch. Cleveland Indians CEO Paul Dolan recently was quoted saying, "I understand that [the Tigers signing Fielder] makes us look bad," and "I don't understand the foundation of what they are doing ... OK, in the short term, I do understand it, but long term, ..." Show me one Tiger fan that would rather have Dolan as an owner. Will this one move put the team over the top? Maybe. Will it look bad when they are paying a 36-year-old overweight DH $24 million? Probably. But for this season, and likely several to come, the Tigers will be competitive, a fan's absolute dream to watch. It's going to be a fun ride. Just win, baby.

My prediction is the Tigers beat the Phillies in six for the series. Here's what someother fans see in the season ahead.—Casey O'Neil


 

Will the Tigers finish with a better or worse record than in 2011 (95-67)?

 

I think this team has the "potential" to win 100 games. I also think KC is better than last season, but the division as a whole is bad. I'll say Detroit wins slightly less (93) if they stay healthy. Last year they were fortunate with their health and I'm not sure that can continue —Matt Shepard, 1130-AM, The Fan

 

They finish 96-66. Prince Fielder only replaces Victor Martinez's lost offensive production, meaning he's good for basically maintaining last year's pace (and attracting fans). The additional win comes from Brennan Boesch and/or Alex Avila have a very good year at the plate. —Bill Shea, reporter, Crain's Detroit Business

 

If Verlander has a better year, the Tigers have a better year. I think they'll have a better record this year, although they came within two 2 games of a pennant last year. —Celeste Headlee, co-host, The Takeaway

 

I think they'll finish with a similar record to 2011. To win more than 93-97 games requires a team to catch lightning in a bottle and that's a hard thing to predict. —Jeff Wattrick, blogger

 

Tigers record will, perhaps paradoxically, be a bit worse than last year's, at 87-75. —Alan Madlane, reporter, The Hamtramck Review

 

I say better. I will give them 100 wins even for the season. —John Bennett, Detroit Police officer and blogger

 

I'm pretty optimistic for this season. They will have over 100 wins. —Danny Methric, guitarist and vocalist, the Muggs

 

Better by two or three. —Devin Scillian, Local 4 news anchor

 

Better ... but not by much. —Craig Fahle, host of The Craig Fahle Show, WDET-FM

 

A hundred wins, 61 losses and one tie (A tie. Why not?) This will be a memorable season for the Tigers. —Charlie Langton, legal expert

 

Will the Tigers dominate the division (AL Central), barely win the division, have to hope for a wildcard spot, or not make the playoffs at all?

 

No one in the division did much to significantly improve themselves, so 2012 could look a lot like 2011 in the standings. My hometown Cleveland Indians might finish .500 or even a game or two above that, so Detroit's margin of victory in winning the AL Central might be slightly smaller, but still not a squeaker. —Bill Shea

 

They are good enough to win the division. Because of their pitching, I think they are the best team in the American League, but the best team doesn't always win the league (St. Louis 2011 and 2006). I do think they have a good enough mix to win it all with their stiffest competition coming from Texas and Angels. —Matt Shepard

 

They still manage to win the AL Central by 4 over the resurgent White Sox and by 6 over up-and-coming Cleveland. Minnesota rebounds a little, KC isn't horrible, and our record against all other AL Central teams is only about .545. —Alan Madlane

 

Let's face it: the Tigers are head and shoulders above the rest of the division. On one hand, the rest of the division is pretty dismal. On the other, the Tigers are a strong team right now, as long as Cabrera doesn't stink it up at third base. —Celeste Headlee

 

The Tigers will run away with the Central Division, not even close. —John Bennett

 

The Tigers will dominate. The rest of the Central has the potential to be pretty weak. —Craig Fahle

 

Should dominate the division. —Devin Scillian

 

They should walk away with this division. —Jeff Wattrick

 

The Tigers will dominate their division. Call them the dominatrix. —Charlie Langton


If you predict that they'll make it to the playoffs and get past the divisional series, who will they face in the ALCS? Will they advance to the World Series?

 

Tigers will top the Yankees for the ALCS. Yankee fans will be asking themselves why don't we have Austin Jackson? Yankees fans will ask why did we ever give up Austin Jackson? —Charlie Langton

 

They'll face the Texas Rangers in a repeat of the 2011 ALCS, and this time should win it. In seven thrilling games too. Or, they'll face Albert Pujols and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim/Long Beach/Santa Ana/Orange County, Calif., or whatever the hell they are calling themselves now.  Can't decide which of the two. —Bill Shea

 

Either the Rangers or the Angels, and, yes, I think this team has a World Series run in them. —Jeff Wattrick

 

Other teams making it in are No. 1 seed New York, No. 2 L.A. Angels, and WC Boston. —Alan Madlane

 

I see the Tigers and the Texas Rangers in a rematch with the Tigers winning and going on to the World Series. —John Bennett

 

Face the Yankees in the divisional series and Angels in the ALCS, winning in six. —Devin Scillian

 

Never bet against the Yankees to make the playoffs. Where they seem to lose to the Tigers. —Craig Fahle

 

If they make it, who will they face in the World Series? Can they beat them and win it all?

 

My fantasy match-up is the Tigers against the Phillies. A real Rust Belt Series. The Phillies have an incredible lineup in batting and some strong pitching but for two years in a row they haven't been able to close the deal in the postseason. So the Tigers would have a chance. —Celeste Headlee

 

I Have two Cliff Lee bobbleheads staring at me on my desk, from when he was a Cy Young winner with my Indians.  He's a Phillie now, on a stacked team, but he's going to lose to the Tigers in the 2012 World Series in seven games.  And the ghost of Lincoln Park's Bubba Helms will finally be allowed to rest.  —Bill Shea

 

My dream World Series match-up is Detroit-Philadelphia, so I'll predict that. What the hell, I'll say Tigers win in six. —Jeff Wattrick

 

Phillies vs. Tigers in World Series. Phillies would be favored, but what the heck — let's take the Tigers in 7. —Devin Scillian

 

The Phillies still have great pitching. I'll go with Philly. The Tigers can beat anyone if they get there. —Craig Fahle

 

I'll say the stars are aligned to get them into the Fall Classic against either the Phillies or Reds. —Matt Shepard

 

We lose to the Angels in 5. —Alan Madlane

 

The Philadelphia Phillies. —John Bennett

 

L.A. Angels. Yes, yes, yes. —jessica Care moore, poet

 

World Series. Tigers will beat the Braves. Atlanta is nice in October. —Charlie Langton

 

Last year Verlander won 24 games. How many over or under 24 will he win in 2012? Or will he tie last year?

 

He won't match his otherworldly season of 2011. Instead, he'll win a routinely amazing 21 games while still dominating most outings. At least one loss will be because of the ... ahem ... defensive deficiencies on the left side of the infield. But more important than Verlander — who will have a great season — is whether Doug Fister will continue his outstanding pitching. If he doesn't, this rotation is very, very average after Verlander. —Bill Shea

 

Justin Verlander had one of the greatest seasons in history for a pitcher.... No, he does not equal or surpass 24-wins. I'll say 21 (team has too much offense for him not to be close to 20, but can Valverde really be perfect again?) and in the mix for another Cy Young Award. —Matt Shepard

 

Justin Verlander is the dreamiest dreamboat in dream town, but 24-win seasons aren't easily repeated. Verlander will be a Cy Young contender again, but with something like 21-22 wins. —Jeff Wattrick

 

Verlander wins 19, goes 19-11. —Alan Madlane

 

He will be under this year, I say two under last year. He will win 22 games only because the bullpen will blow a few. —John Bennett

 

Under by two (22). —Devin Scillian

 

He'll win 19; five under. —Craig Fahle

 

Verlander will only win 22 games, I think. —Danny Methric

 

He'll tie. —jessica Care moore, poet

 

Justin Verlander will win 29 games ... 1 for every year of his age. —Charlie Langton

 

How long will Cabrera last at third base?

 

Cabrera isn't a great third baseman, but I don't think he's the liability people think. He has a career .951 fielding percentage at third. The league average is .955. His range factor/9 is 2.55 and the league average is 2.70. I think those defensive numbers are sufficient to ensure a bona fide triple crown threat keeps his job at third for the entire season. —Jeff Wattrick

 

Until he botches a routine play that costs Verlander a victory. It would be easy to make a Happy Hour/Townsend Hotel joke here, but he's behaved himself so far, so let's cut him some slack. —Bill Shea

 

Jim Leyland is stubborn. Cabrera will play third base the whole season unless he gets hurt or unless Fielder gets hurt at 1st base in which case Cabrera will play first base. —John Bennett

 

We'll put up with the shortcomings all year, except for late game defensive substitutions. It'll be worth it because he and Fielder are going to make it look like batting practice this year. —Devin Scillian

 

Miguel Cabrera will be your starting third baseman all year (he'll get some rest). I mean, it was his natural position and he's worked hard at it. —Matt Shepard

 

Cabrera ends up moving over to DH late in a lot of close games, making way for Danny Worth at 3B, but lasts the year. —Alan Madlane

 

Not long. I predict he will blow it out there. —Celeste Headlee

 

He'll make it the full season. —Craig Fahle

 

Cabrera will move to catcher since catchers wear masks. —Charlie Langton

 

The whole season. —jessica Care moore, poet

 

 

Will Brandon Inge still be a Tiger in the fall?

 

Yes, but he may get to take another all-expense-paid trip to exotic Toledo at some point. It's possible he could be traded under some bizarre circumstances that I cannot quite imagine, but Detroit would have to agree to eat most of his $5.5 million salary for that to happen. If a petulant attitude erupts, he could get his outright release, but for now he's insurance in case Cabrera is a total bust at third. Odds are, he'll be on the roster in the fall, to the delight of pundits and sports talk radio callers across the region. —Bill Shea

 

Ideally, he'll no longer be a Tiger by Opening Day. A legitimate Major-League veteran should be able to hit above the Mendoza Line in spring training. Ramon Santiago is a better defensive second baseman. At this point in their respective careers, he's a more reliable hitter than Inge. It's safe to say Santiago will hit .250 playing second base. The last time Inge hit about .250 was 2006. —Jeff Wattrick

 

My hat is off to Inge. I've watched him play for years and he's always been a dedicated, reliable Tiger. But he's not looking good in spring training and I think he won't play in the fall. —Celeste Headlee

 

Brandon Inge will not be a Tiger this fall. Brandon Inge will not be a Tiger by the all-star break. If Jim Leyland weren't so stubborn, Brandon Inge would not be a Tiger on Opening Day. —John Bennett

 

Brandon Inge will not be with this team in the fall ... not sure he'll be with this team in the spring or summer. —Matt Shepard

 

Inge is back from another stint in Toledo on Sept. 1. —Alan Madlane

 

Alas, I fear not. —Devin Scillian

 

No. —Craig Fahle

 

Inge will move to third since Cabrera is catching. —Charlie Langton

 

 

Prince Fielder had 38 home runs last year. How many home runs over or under 38 will he score in 2012? Or will he tie last year.

 

On paper, the Tigers' lineup is as potent as any in baseball, and Fielder should at least match his home run output. With Cabrera hitting in front of him, and Delmon Young after him, he could hit 40 or more homers for the first time since 2009. His career-high of 50 in 2007 is certainly possible. —Bill Shea

 

Personally, I'd like to see him hit at least 52 homers in the Old English D. Just to stick it to his old man. But I'll settle for 40. I think he's got a 40-home run season in him. —Jeff Wattrick

 

Prince Fielder will tie last year's number of 38 home runs. He's got the short porches in Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park just to name a few, something he didn't have in the National League. —John Bennett

 

My hat is off to Inge. I've watched him play for years and he's always been a dedicated, reliable Tiger. But he's not looking good in spring training and I think he won't play in the fall. —Celeste Headlee

 

Fielder hits 31, as he has to learn all the new pitchers in the new league. —Alan Madlane

 

Fielder will hit 40 dingers, mostly on the road. —Danny Methric

 

I like 40 — a good, round number and reachable with protection around him in the lineup. —Devin Scillian

 

He'll be two over! —jessica Care moore, poet

 

Prince will hit 33 homers — five less. —Craig Fahle

 

Prince Fielder will hit 214 home runs — one for every million dollars of his contract. —Charlie Langton

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