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Prince Fielder Changes AL Central Approach To Detroit Tigers

The Detroit Tigers lost one major force in the line-up only to replace it with something greater. That's akin to thinking you've beaten the bad guy in a video game only to have the "real" one revealed once you're depleted. Lame analogy aside, the rest of the AL Central will definitely be scratching their collective heads as they try to figure out how to pitch to the Detroit Tigers after the announced signing of Prince Fielder for the next nine seasons.

The latest article from Buster Olney over at ESPN reveals just how much the division rivals like the Royals will have to adjust. He writes:

It sounds as if the Tigers are leaning toward batting Cabrera in the No. 3 spot and Fielder No. 4, but Jim Leyland could always reverse that. The bottom line is that Detroit now has back-to-back hitters who will force opponents to try to match up against a lineup that could look like this in 2012:

CF Austin Jackson (R)
RF Brennan Boesch (L)
DH/3B Cabrera (R)
1B Fielder (L)
LF Delmon Young (R)
C Alex Avila (L)
SS Jhonny Peralta (R)
2B Ryan Raburn/Ramon Santiago
3B/DH Brandon Inge/Don Kelly

If the left-handed hitting Boesch hits second, then managers will often call on a right-handed reliever to face Cabrera and then may need a lefty for Fielder. There will probably be more match-up relievers used against the Tigers than against any other team next season. Detroit had one of the best offenses in the majors last year, and with Fielder essentially replacing Martinez, the Tigers' lineup figures to be even better.