Halfway Home–Rating The Detroit Tigers At The Break


The Detroit Tigers have reached the virtual halfway mark in the 2014 season and we’ve had a good look at the performance of individual players.

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How do they stack up versus the expectations Tiger fans had coming into the year?

Let’s break it down.


Exceeded expectations

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Joba Chamberlain

The big right hander was a somewhat risky sign in the offseason but has posted solid numbers in the first half while locking down the eighth inning. The Tigers would happily accept a reprise of his 2.63 ERA in the second half.

Blaine Hardy

In limited innings the rookie left hander has a 1.11 WHIP with a BA against of .182.

Rick Porcello

The 25 year-old veteran put it all together in the first half, with a 12-5 record and a 3.39 ERA. His sinker is deadly and he’s figured out how to get left handers out. Fortunately for the starting rotation, his ascendancy has greatly compensated for the disappointing first half of Justin Verlander.

Met Expectations

Al Alburquerque

The reliever with electric stuff has 38 strikeouts and only 10 walks in 34 innings, with an ERA of 2.91.

Ian Krol

The young left hander obtained in the Fister trade has a 4.44 ERA in 26 innings. To rise to the next level he’ll need to figure out right hand hitters.

Robbie Ray

The centerpiece of the Fister trade pitched well early but then receded. He needs to hone his curveball to succeed at this level. ERA is 4.70.

Anibal Sanchez

Last year’s AL ERA leader has been sturdy again, with a sterling WHIP of 1.04. He’s 6-3, with an ERA of 3.04.

Max Scherzer

Though slightly less effective than last year, the free-agent-to-be has pitched to an ERA of 3.35. At times he’s been dominant, and unfortunately for Tiger fans is on pace to command an enormous contract in the offseason.

Chad Smith

The rookie has pitched well in nine appearances, with an ERA of 4.22 and a WHIP of 1.31.

Did Not Meet Expectations

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Phil Coke

The Coke with nine lives somehow survived an abominable start to remain with the squad. He’s pitched better of late, reducing his ERA to 4.59. His WHIP remains an unsightly 1.50.

Joe Nathan

The accomplished closer underwhelmed in the first half, and is perhaps the team’s biggest disappointment. Like Coke, he’s been better lately, but still sports an altitudinal ERA (5.61) and WHIP (1.51).

Drew Smyly

Probably straddles the line between “met” and “did not meet” expectations, but has been undistinguished as a starter  (4.00 ERA/1.37 WHIP).  The drop off from last year’s stellar performance as a reliever is disappointing.

Justin Verlander

Standing right behind Nathan in the “biggest disappointment”  line is Verlander. Any thoughts of a carryover effect from his dominating postseason were dashed in the first half, as his strikeout total is down, his ERA (4.88) and WHIP (1.46) are up, and his control is off.

Position Players

Exceeded Expectations

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Rajai Davis

The speedster had a fine first half. Billed as a platoon player who couldn’t hit righties, Davis hit .296 and added 24 stolen bases. His walk-off grand slam against Oakland may have been the season’s most uplifting moment.

Bryan Holaday

The catcher hit a solid .278 and was acceptable behind the plate on a back-up basis.

Ian Kinsler

A ballplayer’s ballplayer, the second baseman does everything well. He has more than justified his large contract, and plays with the type of savvy necessary to win championships. BA is .303, and he’s hit 11 HR’s with 51 RBI’s. His defense has been flawless.

J.D. Martinez

Are you serious? He arrived like a gift from the gods in Detroit, a legit five slot hitter with plus power. Slash line is a stupendous .346/.380/.654. Got him for free. Houston,  you have a problem.

Victor Martinez

Picked up where he left off in 2013. Martinez has tormented pitchers throughout the first half and is hitting with more power than at any time in his career. Most likely the team MVP in the first half.

Eugenio Suarez

The young shortstop was expected to be gathering experience in the minor leagues at this point, but was pressed into duty due to a void at the position. He has not disappointed. He’s hitting .265 and holding his own defensively.

Met Expectations

Miguel Cabrera

The future Hall of Famer’s HR production (14) is down a little, but Cabrera’s still an RBI machine, with 75.

Nick Castellanos

The 22 year-old has transitioned nicely to the big leagues. He has recovered from an offensive dip in May, and is hitting .262/.307/.394. He has contributed some key hits and is gradually getting more comfortable at third base.

Don Kelly

The old war horse continues to stride. Versatility is his calling card, and he’s fashioned a respectable .258 BA while playing part-time.

Andrew Romine

The Tigers thought they were getting a light-hitting defensive-minded shortstop when they traded for Romine in March. That’s exactly what they got. BA is .217.

Did Not Meet Expectations

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Alex Avila

Avila continues to flounder with the bat, hitting only .230 with minimal power (7 HR’s). His saving grave is an OBP of .343, though he’s struck out an astounding 86 times, a team high.

Torii Hunter

Hunter has a lowly OBP of .293 and his defense has deteriorated significantly. To his credit he still flashes some power (12 HR’s), but at age 39 the trend line is not in his favor.

Austin Jackson

At age 27, the center fielder is in the prime of his career. Unfortunately, his numbers (.256/.317/.373)  are  very much  subprime.