2017 prediction: .500 in Motown
With another year just around the corner, there is certain to be endless predictions for Detroit sports teams.
With a just a slightly jaundiced viewpoint, I can see a lot of .500 seasons in 2017 for the Red Wings, Pistons, Tigers and Lions.
The Red Wings haven’t been the same team since they let former coach Mike Babcock leave for Toronto.
The Wings are admittedly a very young team under current skipper Jeff Blaishill.
And there are some promising young players on the roster in Dylan Larkin, Frans Nielsen and Luke Glendenning.
But the recent loss of regular goaltender Jimmy Howard leaves a void in the nets.
That puts a lot of pressure on Howard’s backup Petr Mrazek, who’s been letting in a lot of goals lately.
The Wings will have to scramble to make the playoffs and could be an early out if they do.
As far as the Pistons, the future appeared bright before the season began. They had a dominant center in Andre Drummond and several other good young players.
But the team has settled into a win one, lose one pattern and seems certain to end up around .500.
Coach Stan VanGundy has tried his best to sort out the situation.
SVG (Van Gundy’s moniker) recently Inserted Tobias Harris and Jon Leuer into the starting lineup and that could help.
But the fact is that Drummond’s mediocre free throw shooting hasn’t improved noticeably, and he has to be removed in close games. The team’s rather lackadaisical defense is another big factor.
The Pistons appear doomed to be another also-ran in the NBA.
The Tigers, on the other hand, seem to be a team stuck in the past.
Their major moves in the off-season so far have been bringing back castoffs Alex Avila and Omar Infante.
Tigers brass felt that last year’s strong showing was good enough to warrant a return of most of the main cast.
But while Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez are still good hitters, their lack of speed on the bases still killed off too many rallies last season.
The overall starting lineup is solid enough and the regular pitching rotation — led by Justin Verlander and Michael Fulmer — is good.
But the team needs to add another starting hurler and probably an outfielder or two. Centerfield still remains a major problem.
Defending AL champ Cleveland has already strengthened its lineup and that could propel the Indians to another title.
As far as the Lions, their shortcomings have been exposed late this season.
The Detroit secondary is a disaster and the team will have to draft help there. Not to mention adding a big running back who can get the tough yardage.
Another drawback will be a tougher schedule next season.
The Lions fashioned out many of their miracle comebacks this season behind quarterback Matthew Stafford against sub-par opponents. That may not be the case in 2017.
All in all, that could lead to a drop in wins and a .500 season.