That was Then...
They may have been the only Division champion to win less than 90 games last season, but don't let that fool you about the quality of the Detroit Tigers. They swept through the American League playoffs before being vanquished by the San Francisco Giants in the World Series and they were full value the entire way.
American League 2012 Most Valuable Player Miguel Cabrera became the first player to win the Triple Crown since Boston Red Sox outfielder Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
First baseman Prince Fielder turned in another great power season for the Tigers, protecting Cabrera in the lineup and belting 30 homers while driving in 108 runs.
While the Tigers were mashing on the offensive side of the ball, staff ace Justin Verlander had another stellar season with 17 wins and a 2.64 ERA, he also had 239 strikeouts.
The most amazing thing about the strong season Verlander provided for the Tigers is that he was pushed for the team lead in most of those categories by Max Scherzer.
Scherzer won 16 games and finished with 231 punchouts. Throw in Doug Fister and you have one of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball.
After a perfect 2011 season, the major let down for the Tigers was the performance of closer Jose Valverde who eventually had to be benched due to ineffectiveness during the playoffs.
The American League Champions were tough to beat in all aspects of the game.
...This is Now
The Triple Threat
It will be hard for Miguel Cabrera to top his historic, triple crown 2012 season. However, if he's even close to as good in 2013, he will once again find himself in the MVP conversation.
Obviously there was not a lot of work needed on the Tigers roster and as a result they haven't made many marquee additions. However, outfielder Torii Hunter would be the biggest acquisition for the team.
If he still has anything left to provide at the plate and in the field, Hunter could be the veteran piece that takes this team over the top and allows them to grab the big prize.
Victor Martinez will also be back in the lineup after missing the entire 2012 season, which could be another injection of power into an already potent collection of bats.
Justin Verlander is poised to turn in another strong and workhorse-like season, as he continues to be a guy that takes the mound every five days and gives you his best.
Unseating the Tigers in this division is going to be an incredible feat and perhaps only a rash of injuries can open the door for one of the other teams. Look for another playoff season in Detroit.
Every year, we look for players 26-years-old or younger that could make an impact on their team in the upcoming season. The player might have already established himself with a regular role with the team, or he could make their mark later on in the season.
Past Picks: 2012 - Brennan Boesch, 2011 - Austin Jackson, 2010 - Scott Sizemore, 2009 - Jeff Larish, 2008 - Rick Porcello, 2007 - Joel Zumaya, 2006 - Justin Verlander, 2005 - Wil Ledezma, 2004 - Jeremy Bonderman, 2003 - Carlos Pena
After a great 2012 season, the Tigers open this year's rankings at 2.
3B Miguel Cabrera is the third ranked hitter in the game.
There are first-round fantasy picks waiting in The D. Reigning American League MVP Miguel Cabrera can easily go first overall because he's so safe – having hit at least 25 home runs and driven in 100-plus runs in each of the last nine seasons, hitting at least .320 in seven of the last eight. He doesn't steal bases, but so what?
Ace starter Justin Verlander should be the first pitcher off the board and while there is more risk involved with pitchers, Verlander's durability makes him a viable first-round pick too.
1B Prince Fielder isn't far behind those top picks and DH Victor Martinez should be valuable in a comeback year, especially if he happens to have catcher eligibility in your league.
RF Torii Hunter doesn't offer much speed anymore, but he's a steady source of power and CF Austin Jackson has been very productive, but it's fair to exercise some caution based on his extremely high batting average on balls in play. SS Jhonny Peralta has enough pop to be useful and C Alex Avila could easily be more productive than he was last season.
The pitchers behind Verlander are pretty good too. Max Scherzer is particularly valuable in fantasy because of his strikeouts and Doug Fister has raised his Ks since arriving in Detroit. Add in Anibal Sanchez and the Tigers are offering quality arms. The question comes in the bullpen, where rookie Bruce Rondon is going to get first crack at the closer's job.