Doom and Gloom Reign in Motown


My head knows that the Detroit Tigers probably never had the talent and experience needed to stay in the race. My head knows that losing three key veteran bats in the middle of July was too much to overcome.

It knows that the Tigers are still in the middle of a brutal schedule and that this team wasn’t going to run through the Rangers, Jays, Rays, Red Sox, White Sox, Angels, Rays (again), White Sox (again), and Yankees without taking on large amounts of losses.

My heart wants to blame all these losses on the injuries. It wants to believe that the Tigers aren’t out of the race, even as they sit nine games back and two games under .500. My heart believed that Detroit would find a way to win yesterday, to make one last stand at staying in contention. They had to win after Ryan Raburn homered to tie the game with two outs in the ninth, didn’t they? My heart is dumb.

(details after the jump)

The Tigers are 5-17 since the all-star break. 5-17. The all-star break was a long time ago and during the time since, Detroit has won exactly five games. The bullpen, one of the game’s best in the first half, is among the worst since the break. After holding opponents to a .240 average and .662 OPS on their way to a 3.30 ERA before the break, Tigers relievers have struggled to a .309 opponents average, .879 OPS, and 5.75 ERA since. Maybe all those early season innings caught up with them, maybe Joel Zumaya‘s injury meant more than we had feared it would. Probably both.

Having a leaky bullpen and a poor offense is no way to win a division, son. And the Tigers offense has been poor. Before the break, the Tigers averaged 4.66 runs per game. They hit .275 as a team with an OPS of .768. Since the break, Tigers hitters (and I’m using the term loosely) have managed only 3.14 runs per game. They have been held to a .243 average and .670 OPS.

This is where the injuries have really hurt, well that and the regression of Brennan Boesch. Boesch was a first-half hero, it was an outrage that he wasn’t even considered for the all-star team. Maybe Joe Girardi and company knew something we didn’t (or at least didn’t want to believe).

Boesch has all of eight hits since the break, eight in 80 at bats. That’s a .100 average. That’s worse than Gerald Laird. He has zero home runs in the second half and only four RBI, just one of those coming on a base hit. If you want to take it a step further, Boesch has been steadily getting worse lately, still showing no signs of turning things around. Over his last 23 games, he’s hitting .114/.194/.136 for an OPS of .330. In his last 14 games his line drops (amazingly) to .098/.190/.118/.307, and in his last six games it’s somehow even worse at .080/.115/.120/.235.

Man, this is a depressing article.

But what of the guys that have been playing in the wake of the injuries? When Inge, Guillen, and Ordonez went down within days of each other, there became giant holes to fill. Will Rhymes has been okay so far, though he’s played in just 12 games. His .250 average and .639 OPS haven’t been worse than the team averages since he joined the lineup, but he’s no Guillen, either. Sadly, Rhymes has been the bright spot.

Don Kelly has seen a good deal of time lately and he’s done little with it. He has been twice as good as Boesch since the break, getting his eight hits in only 40 at bats, but that still means he’s batting just .200. Raburn, has 10 RBI in the second half, but despite his heroics last night, he’s hitting just .218 since the break and his OPS is down from .637 to .604.

And the new guy, Jhonny Peralta, who slugged two homers in his first game with Detroit? Well he’s hitting .250 with an .800 OPS since the trade. Of course if you remove that first game, where he went 3-for-4 with two bombs, he’s hitting just .167 with a .408 OPS in his last 24 at bats.

At least they still have Miguel Cabrera, not that it does them much good of late. Opposing clubs have stopped pitching to Cabrera in any situation where he can hurt them. He’s actually out-performing his first half since the break, raising his average, OBP, and OPS, but he’s also getting walked a lot more often. After drawing 43 walks in his 83 first half games, he’s already seen 16 free passes in 22 second half contests. And with guys like Boesch and Peralta struggling behind him, there’s no reason to think Cabrera will be seeing too many good pitches down the stretch, either.

Now that I’ve seen the numbers, my heart knows my head was right. But hey, the Angels just got swept by Baltimore, so maybe the Tigers can resume their winning ways tonight. Maybe they can get healthy at just the right time and go on a long run of wins to close the year. Hell, the Twins did it last year and the Sox were down by nine games or so earlier this year. That’s why they play the games, after all.

At least that’s what my heart says. And who am I to argue?