The Tigers can slug. They can pitch. But can they field?

Well, answering that question isn't quite so easy.

Fielding was the Tigers' weakest link in 2012 — by a long shot.

Capable fielders with the ball hit into their zone, too many Tigers players lacked the range to make outs of apparent hits.

The infield featured houses at the corners and trees in the middle with only Austin Jackson in the outfield featuring above-average ability. That hurt pitchers up and down the rotation, but none more than groundball tosser Rick Porcello.

You could argue it didn't hurt the team much overall: The Tigers, after all, did reach the World Series. When they got there, a lack of hitting, not fielding, became the team's downfall.

But the defensive side of the game still matters, especially over the course of a 162-game season.

The Tigers should be better in the field in 2013.

Miguel Cabrera has a year of experience at third base to lean on. Omar Infante has a reputation as a solid defender at second base, although he did have a few hiccups during his first few months back in Detroit.

Still, Infante or Ryan Raburn? Yeah, there's no debate.

Torii Hunter in a corner-outfield spot is a darn sight better than the immobile duo of Delmon Young and Brennan Boesch.

But it's not enough to assert things these days. Some numbers, estimates though they may be, should be attached.

Defensive metrics are the holy grail of baseball nerdom. We know that the traditional stats are not all that telling.

Fielding percentage, for example, might make you think a statue that catches every ball hit directly to it is a better defender than a player who reaches more balls but makes the occasional error.

From The Detroit News: