Hunter's addition should fortify the Tigers 2013 lineup and help them avoid the prolonged lapses that plagued the offense in 2012, especially in the post season.
Here is an extremely early look at what the Tigers 2013 lineup could look like.
1. Austin Jackson (CF)--A.J. had the best year of his career. After taking a step back is his second season, Jackson posted career highs in average (.300), home runs (16), RBI (66), OBP (.377) and SLG (.479) last year. Perhaps the biggest improvement game in the area of plate discipline. Jackson cut down his strike outs from 181 to 134 in 2012. With the artillery behind him in the lineup he should easily score at least 100 runs for the third time in his young career.
2. Torii Hunter (RF)--At age 37, Hunter had one of his finest seasons last year for the Angels. Tigers right fielders combined to hit ,235-13-36 in 2012. Hunter hit .313-16-92. Hunter will be 38 next season, so eventually the numbers will decline, but Hunter keeps himself in terrific shape and no one competes harder. The hope is that his age will not be a factor.
3. Miguel Cabrera (3B)--MVP of the American League and Triple Crown winner, Cabrera has established himself as perhaps the top hitter in the game. Hunter's arrival should provide him with more RBI opportunities.
4. Prince Fielder (1B)--In his first year in Detroit, Fielder provided Cabrera with the type of protection that Victor Martinez did in 2011. Fielder joined Cabrera to give the Tigers a pair of 100 RBI bats in the middle of the lineup. Fielder also posted an OBP of over .400 for the fourth consecutive year.
5. Victor Martinez (DH)--The return of Martinez to the lineup after missing all of 2012 potentially gives the Tigers an unmatched 3-4-5 in baseball. Victor hit .330 and knocked in 103 runs in 2011 before tearing up his knee in the off season leading up to last season. The Tigers assume he will return to his previous levels, and if he does, opposing pitchers may come down with the flu if they are scheduled to start against Detroit.
6. Andy Dirks (LF)-- Dirks hit .322 last year in just 88 games. An Achilles injury limited his playing time and an injury-free season in 2013 could lead to a big season. Dirks has proven he can hit big league pitching, now he just needs to prove he can stay healthy and in the lineup.
7. Jhonny Peralta (SS)--Peralta's numbers took a bit of a dive in 2012. His averaged dropped 30 points form his 2011 level and he hit 8 fewer home runs. Yet, he was impressive in the ALDS and the ALCS and showed improved range as well in the post season. The Tigers picked up his option following the World Series, and barring a trade, they feel he can continue to handle the position. After all, Peralta is still only 30 years-old.
8. Alex Avila (C)--After an all star season in 2011, Avila took a step back offensively in 2012. His RBI numbers dropped from 82 in 2011 to just 48 last season, but Avila also had nearly 100 fewer at bats with Gerald Laird as his back-up. My feeling is that 2011 was no fluke and his numbers in 2013 should closer resemble those totals.
9. Omar Infante (2B)--The trade that brought Infante back to Detroit at last year's deadline with Anibal Sanchez was a key factor in the Tigers advancing to the World Series. Even if Sanchez signs elsewhere for 2013, Infante remains and eliminates a season-long headache Jim Leyland endured at second base last year. Infante hit a solid .274 with double digit home run power in Miami and Detroit combined last season, He also gave the Tigers a bit of a speed element with 17 stolen bases.
This is how the Tigers lineup may look as the team stands now. Then again, it's not even December and a lot can change between now and April 1st in Minnesota.