2012 Detroit Tigers: When Scherzer and Verlander Were on the Same Side

max scherzer justin verlander detroit tigers starters
Both Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander helped push the 2012 Tigers to World Series contention. Seven years later, they face off against one another.

Watching postseason baseball is always s treat. There is no way around it, but watching the postseason while your team is winning is truly something special. Those years are long in the rearview mirror for Detroit Tigers fans, so let’s take a trip down memory lane and review what has been the Tigers’ most talented team of the last 15 years: the 2012 club. 

The Starting Rotation

To get started, let’s look at the best part of that team, the starting pitching. This was their primary rotation that year:

Verlander and Scherzer will likely become Hall of Famers while Porcello has a championship and a Cy Young with the Red Sox. Doug Fister pitched six more seasons and compiled a solid career. Anibal Sanchez continues to be relevant with the Nationals, and Smyly was fantastic in Tampa before injuries shut him down for the last year and a half. End-to-end, the rotation was likely one of the best pitching staffs this side of the Braves’ rotation from the 1990s. One could even make the argument that Verlander and Scherzer were a better 1-2 punch than Maddux and Glavine.

The Bullpen

The bullpen was a different story. For all of the talent in the starting rotation, the bullpen was the polar opposite and ultimately the fatal flaw of the roster. These were the most used relievers that year:

PlayerInnings PitchedERAK-BB RatioK%
Joaquin Benoit713.683.8229.2
Jose Valverde693.781.7816.3
Octavio Dotel583.575.1726.5
Phil Coke544.002.8320.8

At a glance, the ERA’s don’t look stunning, but when you look deeper at the strikeout to walk ratio and the strikeout percentage, you see just how poor the bullpen was outside of Joaquin Benoit. Valverde was the closer, and he was on average striking out roughly 6.3 batters per nine innings (K/9) – not the stuff fans usually see from the guy who would be the closer.

The Lineup

The lineup construction of Detroit Tigers’ squad in retrospect is so bizarre looking back at it. You had legitimate hitters in Austin Jackson, Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta. Then, there was a collection of guys who below-average offensive at their position. This part of the team was greatly helped in 2013 when Victor Martinez came back from surgery, but the 2012 edition was largely propped up by the Triple Crown campaign by Miguel Cabrera – who remains a Tiger to this day – while Prince Fielder earned at least the first year of his $200 million deal. 

Expectations were high for the 2012 Detroit Tigers, and looking back at this team seven years later, it is easier to digest the flaws of this team. Losing in four games to the San Francisco Giants at the time was a massive disappointment after the Tigers appeared to have hit their stride against the Yankees in the ALCS. However, they lacked the pieces to win close games, deep bullpens and clutch hitting. There were great players on the team, and it is one that Tigers fans should be proud of, even if they didn’t reach the ultimate goal.

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