Detroit Tigers: Christin Stewart has failed to meet expectations thus far

(Detroit Free Press)
(Detroit Free Press) /

The Detroit Tigers need to realize that Christin Stewart cannot hit; the last two seasons have shown that.

When the Detroit Tigers called up Christin Stewart for the 2019 season, and he started the season off with a bang, fans were excited. The former first-round draft pick from the 2015 First-Year Amateur Draft has high expectations amongst the fan base, and now it seems like those are far from reality.

Stewart’s offensive prowess was projected to be great, but instead, he appears to be lost in the batters’ box. Now, he is taking up a spot in the Tigers outfield when the team is getting to a point where they need to start working in some of their younger players.

Heading into this third full season with the Tigers, Stewart will be looking to try to turn things around, but the likelihood of that is almost zero. He is slated to be the organization’s starting left fielder but with a crowded outfield.

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After the 2019 season, Stewart played in 104 games where he hit .233/.305/.388 with 10 home runs and 40 RBI. The 2020 season saw Stewart make his way into 36 games where he hit only .167/.224/.300 while striking out 30 times in 90 at-bats.

Stewart struggles with chasing pitches, and overall he has a career 30.5% whiff rate, which is above the MLB average of 28.2% whiff rate. His fastball whiff rate has steadily increased, reaching 36.3% in 2020; his offspeed whiff rate was also 34.0% after 2020’s season concluded.

The point is, he has not had an ideal performance at the plate if the traditional slash line and the 30% strikeout rate in 2020 did not say enough. Stewart has failed to reach expectations, and the bottom line is that he sucks.

The hope for Stewart was that he would be an absolute stud, and very early in 2019, it seemed like the pop was there, and he was going to put on a clinic. Reality set in, and now, heading into 2021, it seems, moreover, like Stewart is just clogging a roster spot.

Not to mention, Stewart is not a sound fielder out in left field, having less than ideal metrics according to Baseball Savant. He ranked on the negative side of the league in Reaction and Burst last season. He also is only a career .969 fielder in left field.

Looking ahead, it might be tough to trot out Christin Stewart with the Detroit Tigers signing Robbie Grossman.

Christin Stewart is arbitration-eligible in 2022 and will become a free agent in 2026, so the Detroit Tigers are still going to have him around for the time being. If he hits well under .200 again this season to start, he should be demoted to Triple-A.

That last declaration also implies that the Tigers do not demote him before then to have Robbie Grossman play the majority of the time in the big leagues. The Grossman signing its likely one that creates a platoon situation for this outfield; the question is if Stewart will get a chance.

There’s no real comparison between the two, Grossman has been more than serviceable in the past few seasons whereas Stewart has been struggling immensely.

At this point, the Tigers need to understand that Stewart is not going to amount to the player they want him to be, and they have to decide if they are going to continue trotting him out there to be the left fielder or bench him to see what the younger players can do.

The only downside to that is, the organization already has a bench spot tied up with an outfielder. Rule 5 draft choice Akil Baddoo is on the bench and will stay there throughout 2021 if the Tigers want to hang on to them. Not to mention that super-utility player Harold Castro will be available for the outfield as well.

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The Detroit Tigers have to open up their eyes and see that Christin Stewart is not even close to the player that the Tigers hoped he would be.