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Thursday, March 1, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING REPORT: DETROIT TIGERS

By Michael Wong

Lakeland, Fla.--Miguel Cabrera and everyone else?  That pretty much sums up the rebuilding theme with the 2018 Detroit Tigers who are having a very low-key spring training here in Lakeland after a 2017 that saw them move franchise pitcher Justin Verlander and a slew of other veterans not nailed down.  The result is that the current makeup of the Tigers roster looks very non-competitive and outside of Cabrera and Victor Martinez, is comprised of mostly young players.  That means plenty of missteps and mistakes are on the way and so this very well could be a seriously challenging year for the team.  With that said, here are the fantasy baseball-related items worth looking into.

1.  Let's start with Cabrera in asking if his career is doomed due to 2017's back problems or if he has some magic left in his Hall of Fame bat?  This is the question of Tigers camp from a fantasy baseball angle as Cabrera is already established as one of the greatest power hitters of all-time due to his ability to not only slug a monstrous amount of homers but also to win batting titles.  Unfortunately, 2017 was a washout as Cabrera got hurt during the WBC and dealt with back woes all season.  The end result was a woeful .249 average and 16 home runs in ust 130 games played.  With Cabrera turning 35 in April, it stands to reason he is the latest big-bodied slugger to get old overnight.  Well the funny thing is that Cabera's advanced numbers didn't really change much last season as his exit velocity was right in line with his career-numbers and so was his hard-hit balls.  So far in camp Cabrera is saying he is 100 percent and so a decent profit could possibly be had here if he can stay on the field.  After all, it was just in 2016 when Cabrera batted .316 and so a .300 average and 25 homers run is likely the floor if the health cooperates.  As long as you snag Cabrera as your UTIL or CI option, this one could pay off for one more season at least.

2.  Nick Castellanos is ready to launch huh?  Don't say we didn't wanr you.  The Fantasy Sports Boss has already written endlessly about how high the potential goes with Castellanos who upped his numbers across the board last season both in the real and advanced world.  With his batting aproach smoothed out, Castellanos has a very real shot at 30 home runs and 90 RBI while claiming both 3B and OF eligiblity.  The best part is the fact the fantasy baseball community gives a big yawn when it comes to Castellanos and so a massive profit margin could be on tap.  Bid aggressively.

3.  Which Michael Fulmer do we trust:  the 2016 or 2017 version?  Split the differenec down the middle and don't forecast more than 160 K's and you won't be disappointed.  While there is no denying Fulmer's vast arsenal of impressive pitches, he is not a strikeout artist and he got by on quite bit of luck in 2016 to put up such gaudy rookie numbers.  Also, keep in mind Fulmer already has had some elbow trouble and that adds to the angst in terms of a possible investment.  Those in inning-capped leagues should especially be wary here but overall Fulmer is nothing more than an SP 4 option this season.

4. Shane Greene:  bust or trust?  Count us squarely in the BUST column as Greene has some pretty shoddy control for someone who operates in the ninth inning.  Yes Greene was very good in 2017 and has the high K rate to succeed in spurts but even if he does do well early on, the Tigers will just unload him into a setup gig by the summer.

5. Can we squeeze anything more out of Victor Martinez?  Yet another one of the all-time great pure hitters has been the Tigers DH as Martinez has been doing this forever.  Now that he is 40 and dealing with some scary heart problems, Martinez is really just left for AL-only leagues at this late stage of his career.


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