Going into the season I accepted the fact that the Detroit Tigers rebuild would continue, I didn’t think the team would become unwatchable. Over the past week, the team has simply played terrible baseball.
After the first six weeks of the MLB season was completed, I never expected the Detroit Tigers to be hovering around the .500 mark, but there they were. Although the team hasn’t had much to cheer about on offense besides Ronny Rodriguez, they managed to win game after game behind strong starting pitching and Shane Greene slamming the door closed in the ninth inning. In fact, he’s recorded 15 saves on the season without a single blown save to date.
The biggest concern isn’t Jeimer Candelario being sent down to triple-a Toledo because his .192 batting average with little to no power just doesn’t cut it. He was expected to be a middle of the lineup bat for the Detroit Tigers, his atrocious batting average combined with only two home runs and nine runs batted in on the year earned him a trip back to the Mud Hens.
JaCoby Jones plays an exceptional center field except for a lazy, embarrassing play last night. What should have been a single ended with a runner crossing home plate and the batter cruising into third base standing up! A ball was hit to Jones in center field, as the ball was rolling towards Jones. He looked up rather than looking the hard grounder into his glove. Just as you expected, the ball went under his glove, rolling all the way to the center field wall. For a guy who is only hitting .170 known for his defense–this is simply unacceptable. It’s only a matter of time before Jones joins Candelario in Toledo.
Grayson Greiner is the Detroit Tigers everyday catcher, although he handles the pitching staff better than John Hicks he simply can’t hit. He throws out 32% of would-be base stealers which is 3% better than the league average. He ranks third in the league throwing out 8 runners, and fourth in the league allowing 17 stolen bases. Don’t expect any of these players to be around in a couple of years when the team finally returns to being relevant once again.
The Detroit Tigers recently promoted their top catching prospect Jake Rogers to triple-A. He’s known for his cannon of an arm and for the first time in his young career he is hitting. It won’t be long before Greiner who’s only hitting .196 on the season feels the pressure of Rogers lurking waiting for his MLB opportunity. Stewart (.185) & Harrison (.176) are both struggling to hit for average. That’s five regulars hitting less than .200 merely a disaster. For the record, both Goodrum along with Mercer (IL) are about an at-bat away from also being sub-200.
Rogers caught Tigers’ top prospect and MLB’s current number two prospect, top pitching prospect Casey Mize‘s no-hitter with the Erie Seawolves. After the game, Mize praised Rogers for calling an excellent game behind the plate. In 26 games with Erie this year Rogers hit 5 home runs, drove in 21 runs while hitting .302. It’s a sample size, but in his first two games with the Mud Hens, he’s hit a homer, drove in a pair and is hitting .400. Expect to see the 24-year-old Rogers at some point this year in Detroit, especially if he continues to hit.
The most alarming early-season concerns are both Miguel Cabrera and Nicholas Castellanos. The two established bit bats in the Detroit Tigers lineup are both not producing with any type of power. Cabrera is hitting a respectable .290 but with no power. He’s accomplished just one home run on the year. Nick is hitting .256 with just three long-balls.
With those two players struggling to find the fences, it makes for a lot of boring games. The weather in the area hasn’t cooperated, but it hasn’t stopped the Angels, Astros and A’s from peppering the ball out of Comerica Park. If you flip through the stations and stop for a minute on the Tigers game you’ve noticed about 5,000 fans in attendance, don’t expect that to change anytime soon. Over the last two days, the Oakland A’s have outscored the pitiful Tigers to the tune of 24-5.
At the moment these games are simply unwatchable, yet I find myself wasting my evening flipping to the game just to see how bad it is, or who from the bullpen brought the gas can to the mound tonight. Whenever the next crop of young prospects makes it to the majors, it will draw the fanbase back but until we see Mize, Matt Manning, Alex Faedo, Jake Rogers it’s going to be a long summer.