In 2011, the Detroit Tigers advanced to the ALCS, and a big reason was Victor Martinez. The designated hitter and occasional catcher batted .330 with an .850 OPS, or, if you prefer, a 132 OPS+. The Tigers were again looking for Martinez to help lead them to the playoffs in 2012.
So this news comes as a devastating blow. From Jason Beck:
Tigers announce Victor Martinez has suffered torn ACL. Surgery would likely sideline him for the season.
More, from Eric Fisher:
Tigers say Victor Martinez tore ACL during offseason conditioning and could be lost for '12. Break for rest of AL Central?
Martinez has not yet been declared officially out for the season. He still needs to be re-evaluated, and even if he has surgery, he could potentially return towards the end of the year. But this is bad news. Really really bad news.
The big question that you can't avoid is, where do the Tigers go from here? How will the Tigers fill this hole? With Martinez under contract through 2014 and Miguel Cabrera under contract through 2015, they can't commit themselves to a long-term 1B/DH. There are a number of shorter-term DH candidates available on the free agent market, like Johnny Damon, Vladimir Guerrero and Hideki Matsui. They could trade for Bobby Abreu. They could intensify their pursuit of Yoenis Cespedes, or some other outfielder, in order to move Delmon Young to DH.
The Tigers have options. They'll still be a good team. But without Victor Martinez, they'll probably be less of a good team. The opportunity door in the AL Central is open just a little wider than it was before.