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Tigers’ Window to Contend is Still Open

Detroit Tigers

Are we seeing a changing of the guard in the American League Central Division? The Detroit Tigers, winners of five of the last six division titles, regressed to embarrassing lows in 2015 that culminated in a 74-87 record. Do the Tigers have enough firepower to make one last kick at the can? We’re about to find out.

Tigers’ general manager Al Avila reloaded in the offseason by signing star hurler Jordan Zimmermann, outfielder Justin Upton and closer Francisco Rodriguez. Those moves signified this team is not going away quietly, and when you couple them with existing stalwarts Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander and Victor Martinez, this club should improve dramatically from last year.

Oddsmakers at Bovada aren’t expecting Brad Ausmus’ crew to set the world on fire. The shop has tabbed Detroit with a +2000 shot to win the World Series, a +1200 chance to win the American League pennant with its Central odds sitting at +375 – behind the Kansas City Royals (+110) and Cleveland Indians (+250).

If you followed baseball during the offseason, that last sentence shouldn’t surprise you. The Royals are returning a big chunk of the roster that won the Fall Classic, while the Indians’ have one of most dynamic pitching staffs in the bigs. Even the White Sox, despite recent clubhouse-related turmoil, have improved dramatically. This is going to be one of the most competitive divisions in MLB, which means the Tigers have their work cut out for them to get back to the promised land.

Detroit’s season win total has been set at 81.5 – an intriguing number for sports bettors. This club will almost certainly improve from its 74-win campaign, however, contending is not a given. The aging trio of Cabrera, Martinez and Verlander have had their fair share of injury concerns, but if they can stay on the field and the new additions integrate themselves into the lineup with ease, the OVER looks appealing here.

The offense has always been there in Motown. It’s the pitching that’s been a different story. In the midst of a disaster season, the Tigers’ decision to ship soon-to-be free agent ace David Price to the Toronto Blue Jays could go a long way in determining the future of the rotation. One of Toronto’s top prospects, left-hander Daniel Norris, came over in the deal and pitched well after the trade. Norris provides a much-needed youthful shot in the arm to a starting five that needed a boost.

The butt of many jokes for decades, the Royals are the ones that are laughing now. Detroit is no longer a super power in its own division, but it’s not going to go down without a fight.

There’s no question the Tigers’ window of contention is slowly closing, and rather than face a looming rebuild, Avila’s decision to be aggressive in the offseason could pay major dividends. The current core is built to win now, and a tradition of regular season success is already in place. But if injuries take their toll and struggles follow in the opening months, Tigers fans could be in store for another underwhelming season.

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2016 Detroit Tigers Futures Odds
MarketOdds
World Series+2000
American League Pennant+1200
American League Central+375
Win Totals81.5

Odds as of April 1 at Bovada

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