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Detroit Tigers will regret missed opportunities

In each of the past three seasons, the Detroit Tigers won the American League Central and rolled into the postseason as the odds-on favorite to reach, if not win, the World Series.

In 2012, Detroit matched up against a Cinderella team in the Oakland Athletics and beat them in five games before trouncing the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series. However, a team led by the formidable core of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera was meekly swept out of the World Series by the San Francisco Giants.

The following year began with the same script. Detroit faced off against Oakland and once again had to travel for Game 5 of the ALDS, this time toppling Sonny Gray to advance into the ALCS. Yet, this campaign would end one step shorter than the last with a defeat to the Boston Red Sox.

Last year, Detroit made a final push with that roster – sans Fielder, who had been traded for Ian Kinsler – and reached the postseason once more. This time, it ended with a resounding sweep against the Baltimore Orioles in the ALDS, ushering in a new and perhaps tougher era for Detroit fans to swallow.

In the offseason, Scherzer left for big money with the Washington Nationals after general manager Dave Dombrowski decided to keep Verlander on a deal of seven years and $180 million, which began in 2013. The Tigers also kept Anibal Sanchez for $75 million, drying up any space on the roster for a man who is currently pitching better than almost anybody in baseball … again.

Fast forward to 2015, and it appears the reign of Detroit in the AL Central is nothing more than a memory with a record of 44-41. It’s always hard in sports to wonder what could have been, and it will certainly be the thought attached to this group. The New York Yankees were in a down period, the rest of the division was mostly mediocre, and the most talented group in baseball played in Motown.

Now? The Tigers are just another floundering team. Even worse, it is an old, aging group with a bunch of massive contracts that are virtually untradeable. Verlander is pitching to a 6.75 ERA through his first four starts this year, while Sanchez is clocking in with a 4.63 ERA. David Price is the only starter really showing quality stuff, while the lineup is a mixed bag.

Victor Martinez has only three home runs in 194 at-bats, while Kinsler and once-prized prospect Nick Castellanos are playing to sub-par averages and power numbers. Cabrera has been a beast again, hitting .350 with 15 home runs and 54 RBI, while J.D. Martinez (.287/24/58) and newcomer Yoenis Cespedes (.293/12/47) are producing nicely. Still, it isn’t enough for a tough short on pitching … and time.

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