Detroit has other pieces who will have to play key roles if the Tigers are to return to the postseason in 2017 after a two-year absence, such as slugger Miguel Cabrera, second baseman Ian Kinsler and pitcher Michael Fulmer, the reigning AL Rookie of the Year. But their chances at reaching October will increase if ace Justin Verlander and outfielder Justin Upton can show the kind of consistency that made both of them stars but has eluded them in recent seasons. Verlander rebounded from a pair of down seasons to go 16–9 with a 3.04 ERA and a league-best 254 strikeouts, helping him to a (controversial) second-place finish in the Cy Young voting. He's entering his age-34 season, his 13th in Detroit. Upton, meanwhile, played his first year in Motown in 2016 and, at 29, still has time to be an impact player for years to come. And while his OPS+ declined for the second straight year last season, he hit 13 homers and drove in 28 runs in the season's final month and is entering what could be the walk-year of his contract.
Sign Up for our Newsletter
Don't get stuck on the sidelines! Sign up to get exclusives, daily highlights, analysis and more—delivered right to your inbox!