Here are the top five questions facing the Detroit Tigers:
5. Can Austin Jackson become an All-Star?Â Jackson never tickled my fancy as a player until last year. After last year he looks like a hot commodity, but there are two big red flags. He is a putative speedster, but logged only 12 steals in 543 AB. He hit 16 HR, but did so on the heels of a fluky (for him) HR/FB rate that may not be repeatable. These may end up being minor quibbles, as he has improved his plate skills every year he has been in the majors. Was 2012 a stepping stone to a $30 season or was it a peak from which he will decline?
4. What will Miguel Cabrera do for an encore? That he will regress is a given, but how far? He had a career high HR/FB rate, and that will regress with certainty. But other than that there are no negatives in this skill set and no other indicators of regression. If anything, his contact rate and BABIP point to a batting average repeat, or even a slight improvement. Expect 2011 again, not 2012, but either way this is the undisputed first overall pick in my estimation.
3. Can Max Scherzer be a fantasy ace? More than any other question, this may be the one that determines the Tigersâ€™ fate in real baseball. Scherzer was the poster boy for patience and regression to the mean, and a spit in the eye for knee-jerk, so-called “scoutingâ€ players, who found all sorts of silly rationales for downgrading Scherzer in April. â€œScoutingâ€ is really silly folks, especially in fantasy, and is just another word for â€œlaziness.â€ It is a real life version of the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy, with players inventing reasons ex post facto for what they see, which is a completely illogical and invalid process.
But, hey it sounds logical so why not believe it? And we wonder why there is so much bad advice out there; fantasy writers trying to make a name for themselves by being lazy and ignoring the fundamentals. Just because someone writes something that sounds reasonable doesnâ€™t make it so, and fantasy players would improve their overall skills if they just ignore every single prediction that is made by someone who says the can â€œscoutâ€ fantasy players from their couch. That this occurs on bigger name sites, and even behind pay walls, is something of a travesty in this writerâ€™s opinion.
One of these years, I will start writing a scouting column by using nothing but buzzwords, and I will bet that it will be indistinguishable from the other scouting articles out there. Like trying to define “art,” it is a completely subjective process in which those who engage in it define the terms and create a veneer of legitimacy in order to further their own personas, while doing nothing to help the consumers of the product.
Scherzer is unlikely to repeat that glorious K rate, but if he lands anywhere close to 9.0 he will be just fine and a sub 3.25 ERA is in the offing.
2. Is Victor Martinez healthy? After off-season surgery for an ACL tear, the 34-year-old Martinez is at something of a crossroads. He did not have a reconstructive surgery on the ACL but had microfracture surgery in his knee. He tried to return last year but could not, and now we have no idea how that knee is. Of course, reports are that he is doing fine, but when was the last time a team admitted it made a mistake in how it handled an injured player? After missing all of 2012, with a bad knee and at 34 years old, he is a complete question mark.
1. Who will close? We are fairly sure that Bruce Rondon will spit the bit; his skill set stinks for a closer, and is well below the Closer Identifier Algorithm minimums. And that assumes he gets the job, which is no guarantee. Wait, I thought all those scouting players saw Rondon fix his mechanics and his approach? It must have changed again before his last two outings, and now Rondon is on the brink yet again. Anything can happen, but if you draft him you better grab Joaquin Benoit. It is not clear how the pecking order will turn out, but Benoit is the only one in the pen who seems capable of getting the job done, and is the only one that CIA predicts will hold the job.
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