4. Detroit Tigers
The Tigers are somewhat similar to the Royals in the fact that they have some talented young pieces in place, a legendary veteran, and made some nice offseason acquisitions. Unfortunately, they have also found themselves at the bottom of the division for many years, with the team last finishing above .500 in 2016, and last making the playoffs in 2014, two years after a World Series appearance.
Miguel Cabrera was part of that World Series team, and the 2023 season will be his farewell tour as the veteran announced plans to retire after season’s end. The Tigers sending him out on a high note with a playoff chase is probably unlikely, but there is reason to believe this team could be much improved.
Last year, Detroit dealt with injuries all year long. One was to promising prospect Riley Greene, who should be ready to go and potentially break out this year. All-Star outfielder Austin Meadows also missed a lot of time and will look to rebound in 2023. So too will shortstop Javier Baez, who had a down year in 2022 after coming over from New York. Spencer Torkelson is another name who disappointed last season but will be a guy to keep an eye on in 2023, while the additions of guys like Nick Maton and Matt Vierling should also add to this lineup’s potential.
However, in another similarity to Kansas City, the Tigers’ pitching staff will be the big question. Eduardo Rodriguez will be the ace and will be another guy looking to get back to form after injury last year. Spencer Turnbull is also back after missing last season following Tommy John surgery, but he showed a lot of potential in 2021, including throwing a no-hitter. The bullpen lost a lot through the offseason, which could be an issue, but if the overall staff gets some surprise contributions, the Tigers could be formidable.
With bounce backs and better injury luck, it’s feasible to see Detroit making a run towards a .500 record. While somewhere between 70-75 wins might be more likely, this squad has talent, but better luck and further development from its young guys will be needed.