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Peterson: Tigers face long road back

In pro football, finishing last will likely get you the top first-round pick.

In pro basketball, you might get the right ping-pong ball, or whatever they do to determine the first overall pick in the draft.

But in pro baseball, being the worst of the worst will get a team the right to select first in the draft — out of 300 players or so.

That’s the prize awaiting the Detroit Tigers as they close in on a most forgettable season of what was once a storied franchise.

Only the equally pathetic Baltimore Orioles have a shot at beating the Tigers this season.

Of course, the Orioles also had a storied franchise. They were the last MLB team to have four 20-game winners in a single season (Mike Cuellar, Jim Palmer, Pat Dobson and Dave McNally).

And they have the record-holder in most consecutive games played in Cal Ripken.

But Detroit has been without a World Series winner since 1984. And don’t look for them to be in the Fall Classic real soon.

This is a team that just four short years ago appeared ready to challenge for a pennant.

Ace pitcher Justin Verlander topped a good pitching staff and he was backed up by a steady Rick Porcello and Anibal Sanchez.

The Tigers offense could rely on J.D. Martinez, Victor Martinez, Miguel Cabrera and then-young prospects Nick Castellanos and Jose Iglesias.

Thanks to the work of an inept front office, those guys are gone … long gone … in the words of the late and great announcer Ernie Harwell.

Verlander is the likely Cy Young winner after two great seasons in Houston. Porcello and J.D. Martinez have thrived in Boston for the most part.

Castellanos, traded to the Cubs at midseason, is lighting up the National League. He has 25 homers and 50 doubles.

I could go on and on. Iglesias is a having a nice season with the bat and glove in Cincy.

Oh, and don’t forget catcher James McCann, who made the All-Star team this summer for the White Sox. Or top reliever Shane Greene, who was donated to Atlanta.

The Tigers are loaded with prospects (short for benchwarmers) galore. The prize for all they given away.

I’ll grant you that there are a few on the roster who could develop into major league players. Outfielder JaCoby Jones, Brandon Dixon and Victor Reyes could step up in the future.

Matthew Boyd appears to be the one consistent hurler on the Detroit staff.

How about, Cabrera, you’re asking? His huge salary is soaking up money that could be used elsewhere. Ditto for pitcher Jordan Zimmerman, who has exactly one win in 2019.

And Detroit General Manager Al Avila, who was given a 4-year contract, is the wildcard in this mess in Motown.

Lots of luck, Tigers fans.

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