The 2011 Detroit Tigers went 95-67 and won the American League Central Division Title. Detroit fielded a roster with four players named to the 2011 MLB All-Star Game in Phoenix, Arizona. Detroit Manager Jim Leyland witnessed All-Star campaigns from starting pitcher Justin Verlander, first baseman Miguel Cabrera, catcher Alex Avila, and closer Jose Valverde.
After the Tigers knocked off the New York Yankees in the American League Division series in five games, the Texas Rangers ended Detroit’s playoff run in the American League Championship series, winning the series 4-2. Avila says the intensity of playing in October was a great experience for the team and made him hungry for more postseason appearances.
Justin Verlander won the American League Cy Young Award in an unanimous vote and was also named the American League Most Valuable Player. Silver Slugger Award winner Alex Avila says Verlander is the ace of the staff and leads the team with his preparation and toughness.
Last season, Verlander went 24-5, posted a 2.40 ERA, with 250 strikeouts in 251 innings.
The Tigers went into the 2011 offseason targeting arms for the bullpen and a backup catcher. Detroit signed reliever Ocatvio Dotel and catcher Gerald Laird to fill these needs. But, when Victor Martinez went down during offseason workouts, the Tigers needed to acquire a hitter for their middle of the order. Detroit Tigers Vice President and Assistant General Manager Al Avila says free agent Prince Fielder was the impact bat their lineup needed.
The Tigers and Prince Fielder agreed to a nine-year, $214 million contract this past winter. Fielder played in every game of the 2011 season for the Milwaukee Brewers, where he hit .299, had 38 home runs, and drove in 120 RBIs. He joins Miguel Cabrera in the middle of Detroit’s order. Cabrera hit .344, with 30 homers, and knocked in 105 RBIs in 161 games for the Tigers last season.
The addition of Fielder led the Tigers to move Cabrera over to third base. Tigers skipper Jim Leyland has helped ease Cabrera’s transition to playing third base and managing a roster filled with established veterans. Avila says Leyland’s leadership and guidance has been vital to the team’s success.
Leyland and the Tigers have high expectations for the 2012 season.VP Al Avila says the organization’s goal is to make a deep run in October.
Detroit is currently 15-15 this season and is in second place in the American League Central behind the Cleveland Indians.