The Tigers are now officially halfway through the season. And to say this season has been a disappointment thus far, I think would be an understatement. The preseason favorite to win the A.L. Central this season, the Tigers have looked anything but a winner since the middle of April. Since starting the season 9-3, the Tigers have gone 30-39, and now have moved closer to last in the A.L Central than first. That’s right, the lowly Minnesota Twins, who are still starting Nick Blackburn are just 3.5 games behind the Tigers.
Don’t worry, I am not about to give the Twins any respect. They have been an awful team for a couple of years now, and no matter how bad the Tigers are, I am still confident they finish above the Twins. However, the Tigers certainly don’t look like the team that is going to threaten the White Sox. Especially after they destroyed the Texas Rangers tonight, and don’t seem to have the same kind of problems the Tigers have.
We all see the problems. I can’t imagine that the Tigers management can’t. We just don’t know if they are going to fix it. Despite David Dombrowski’s public proclamations that he isn’t worried about the 2nd base position, it’s still an issue. So is the corner outfield. The glaring issue is the defense however. It’s the elephant with bad gas in the room, and we can’t ignore it anymore. That’s right Jim Leyland, tonight, I am writing what I saw.
And this amateur defensive team is getting tougher and tougher to watch.
The basic fundamentals are lost on this 100M dollar plus team whose offensive prowess was supposed to make up for all their warts. In a close game tonight, where the Tigers had an emergency starter, the leather failed them yet again leading to 4 unearned runs for starter Duane Below. The home run off of Jose Ortega likely doesn’t happen if it wasn’t for the normally sure-handed Ramon Santiago committing two errors in this game. Oh, and that’s not to mention the catchable ball that bounced off of Brennan Boesch‘s glove in the outfield.
This has been a season long problem for the Tigers, but I’m not telling the rabid Tiger fan anything he or she doesn’t know already. The Tigers are last in the American League in DER (defensive efficiency rating) according to MLB.com. Essentially, that is the number of balls put into play that stay in the park that are turned into outs. The Tigers don’t turn balls into play into outs at a very high rate. Luckily our pitchers have been striking a lot of guys out.
Watching the Tigers play defense is like the baseball version the The 3 Stooges, every time a team puts the ball in play. I’m still waiting for a couple of defenders to clunk their heads together while going for a fly ball.
The Tigers have literally one every day player that is reliable with the glove, and I’m including catcher Alex Avila. We all know who that is, and thank God or whatever deity makes it possible for him to play CF for the Detroit Tigers right now. I don’t include Quintin Berry as a good fielder either. This might not be a popular sentiment, but he is actually a pretty poor defender, who has made up for his poor jumps and reads off the bat with his speed. Not to mention he has had two baseballs in his glove come out of there in the past week and half or so. But Quintin Berry isn’t the reason the Tigers are losing, though he isn’t helping them win really either. A little known fact. In games Quintin Berry has started and finished the Tigers are 15-17.
Hey, it’s easy for me to point the finger at the defense as the reason the Tigers haven’t lived up to expectations, but it isn’t just the little league defense that’s at fault for the mediocrity we are seeing. There is a whole bunch of reasons; inconsistent starting pitching, an early season bullpen slump, injuries, managing, poor performances by key guys, and the list goes on and on.
But as they say, excuses are like a**holes, and “they” probably got their mouth washed out with soap by their parents.
The thing is, the defense isn’t going to all of a sudden get better with the Tigers current roster. It will be interesting to see if this is a focus if Dave Dombrowski acquire someone before the deadline. If it isn’t, the Jeckyl and Hyde routine could easily continue.
And that could drive Tigers fans a little crazy this summer.