The 2013 season has lurched along like a high-performance sports car on a frigid morning; coughing, sputtering, smoothing out a bit, then grinding the gears again.
Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter have provided a consistent spark atop the lineup, however; setting the table and frequently staking the squad to an early lead. The wire-to-wire champion 1984 Tigers featured a dynamic duo atop the lineup as well – should-be-Hall-of-Famers Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell. Like A-Jax and Torii, it seemed a first inning rally was a nightly occurrence. Let’s take a look at their respective numbers through 20 games and see how they compare:
Whitaker – 19 starts, 83 AB’s, 27 H, 21 R, 4 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, .325/.404/.482
Jackson – 20 starts, 94 AB’s, 26 H, 21 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, .277/.340/.372
Trammell- 19 starts, 77 AB’s, 31H, 21 R, 6 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 10 RBI, .403/.495/.584
Hunter – 19 starts, 83 AB’s, 31 H, 14 R, 7 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 10 RBI, .373/.416/.518
Sweet Lou and Tram worked the count a bit better, hence the higher OBP’s. But the counting stats are remarkably similar, and would lead one to believe that such production atop the lineup, early leads etc. would be a springboard to a successful season.
Through 20 games, the ’84 Tigers were 18-2; this year’s version is 10-10. So what gives?
All of the prerequisite renunciations can be invoked: too early, small sample size, cold weather, tough schedule. Like most fans, I was hoping for that wire-to-wire, clinch on Labor Day season. So it isn’t unreasonable to dissect this team at the 1/8 pole and try to discern if any of the existing problems are chronic, transient and/or fixable:
- Bullpen ineffectiveness/Lack of closer
- Team slugging percentage – lack of doubles/homers
- Unproductive bottom half of lineup
- Little contribution from bench players