2016 Detroit Tigers projections according to ‘Baseball Reference’

It’s been a busy off-season as the Tigers attempt to regain traction in the competitive AL Central.

The bullpen has seen some turnover, and manager Brad Ausmus has a few new toys to use (Cameron MaybinJustin UptonJordan ZimmermannFrancisco Rodriguez).

Just for fun, let’s use the projections for each player on the roster for the 2016 season that Baseball Reference comes up with. We’ll also use a projected lineup, as we aren’t completely sure what the lineup will look like. Remember, these are all projections based on the algorithm used by the folks at Baseball Reference, not predictions made by myself or anybody else.

Starting lineup:

Player AVG HR RBI SB BB K
2B Ian Kinsler .276 13 70 11 37 76
CF Cameron Maybin .255 9 49 15 39 98
1B Miguel Cabrera .316 22 84 2 60 89
RF J.D. Martinez .283 27 83 5 40 149
DH Victor Martinez .280 16 68 2 41 55
LF Justin Upton .260 24 76 10 58 145
3B Nick Castellanos .265 14 67 2 37 130
C James McCann .266 9 42 2 21 85
SS Jose Iglesias .296 5 31 8 25 59

For the starting lineup, that’s a combined .277 average, with 139 home runs, 57 steals, 392 walks, and 886 strikeouts. Thoughts:

  • The number of at-bats for both Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez are much lower than their 162-game average for their career. Injuries caused them to miss a lot of time in 2015, something the Tigers will be keeping an eye on in 2016.
  • Jose Iglesias is a wild card. He missed the entire 2014 season but rebounded nicely in 2015 before missing the final month with a hand injury.

Now, let’s look at the starting rotation:

Player W-L Innings ERA WHIP BB K
Justin Verlander 8-9 147 3.98 1.286 45 125
Jordan Zimmermann 12-8 181 3.43 1.171 37 152
Anibal Sanchez 9-8 151 4.11 1.232 45 135
Mike Pelfrey 6-10 145 4.59 1.469 47 92
Daniel Norris 5-4 85 3.81 1.212 27 72

Thoughts:

  • The innings totals for Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez are significantly lower than their average per season through their career, by and large because of their injuries from 2015.
  • Daniel Norris has never pitched an entire season in the big leagues, which is why his innings projection is so low.
  • Matt Boyd will surely get some time in with the big club throughout the season as well, but is not currently projected to be in the rotation to start the year.

Based on these projections, the rotation is only expected to contribute 40 wins and compile a combined ERA of 3.97. Obviously, if Norris holds on to a spot in the rotation all season, and Verlander/Sanchez can contribute more than they did last year, those numbers should realistically be much higher.

As stated earlier, the bullpen has seen plenty of change since the end of the season. Mark Lowe is a big addition, and Rodriguez in the closer spot is a big piece as well. Here are the projected numbers for the bullpen pitchers:

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Player W-L Innings ERA WHIP BB K Saves
Justin Wilson 4-2 61 3.54 1.23 22 58
Drew VerHagen 2-2 40 3.60 1.275 15 32
Blaine Hardy 4-3 60 3.45 1.317 22 52
Alex Wilson 3-3 63 3.14 1.175 16 46
Mark Lowe 2-3 53 3.40 1.264 17 50
Bruce Rondon 2-2 40 4.28 1.375 16 39
Francisco Rodriguez 3-4 60 3.30 1.133 17 59 23

Thoughts:

  • Obviously, things could change with the bullpen, but these are the top seven on bullpen pitchers on the depth chart according the Tigers official website.
  • Rodriguez’s save number is a little low, but he has recorded at least 38 saves in each of the last two seasons.
  • Since getting off to a rocky start, Alex Wilson has been lights out in each of his last two seasons.

Finally, let’s look at the bench players. Andrew Romine and Mike Aviles are both utility players who can be used almost anywhere on the infield, plus Aviles can play some outfield if needed. Anthony Gose and Tyler Collins will both be used in certain situations as well.

Also, we now have a story line at the backup catcher position heading into spring training, with incumbent Bryan Holaday and new Tiger, veteran Jarrod Saltalamacchia, so we’ll detail both of their projections as well.

Player Average HR RBI SB BB K
Anthony Gose .253 7 33 18 40 124
Tyler Collins .264 8 36 3 21 62
Andrew Romine .245 5 25 10 21 71
Mike Aviles .241 8 37 8 20 56
Bryan Holaday .254 5 28 2 15 51
Jarrod Saltalamacchia .241 11 41 2 36 104

Thoughts:

  • Holaday is a guy the Tigers have enjoyed having given his max effort during a game and has been productive in a pinch. However, Saltalamacchia is capable of hitting from both sides (more power from the left side) and has more experience of playing first base as well.
  • Gose’s projections are heavily influenced on the fact that he had 535 plate appearances last season. That seems quite unlikely now with a logjam in the outfield.
  • Defensively, these guys can help out quite a bit, but none of them will be heavily relied upon for the offensive capabilities.

What do you think, Nation? A projected .277 average with plenty of power throughout the lineup, a rotation with decent ERA’s (but plenty of potential to bring those numbers down), and a slightly retooled bullpen.

Will this be enough for the Tigers to contend in 2016?

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