It is both a surprise and a disappointment to find, through approximately one fifth of the regular season, that the Detroit Tigers formidable offense has managed only 26 home runs – 13th out of 15 teams in the American League.
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We certainly approve of the rebalancing towards speed and defense, but there is only so much a team can accomplish offensively if it does not slug. Are these numbers the result of the way the team has been built (expected) or just the result of some cold starts?
Firstly, the Tigers have no reason to expect more pop from SS Jose Iglesias (on pace for 5 HR) or the platoon of Rajai Davis and Anthony Gose in center (on pace for 10 HR). These are the speedy, glove-y guys that we want in the lineup for other reasons. We also don’t expect any power from utility men Andrew Romine or Hernan Perez. JD Martinez and Miguel Cabrera, whether or not they have had MVP-caliber seasons overall, are both on pace for over 30 homers. Yoenis Cespedes is on pace for 20, the catching duo is on pace for 15.
It isn’t fair yet at this point in his career to expect much more than 10 home runs from Nick Castellanos, which is what he is currently on pace for. Last season he hit 11, his preseason forecast was for 13.
What we would like to see is a bit more power from 2B Ian Kinsler, who has yet to hit a ball out of the park this season. A minimum of 10 and a maximum of 20 out of Kinsler on the season seems like a fair expectation. IF he was on pace to do that we would have seen perhaps another 3 jacks from him already.
We would also most definitely like to see more power from Victor Martinez, who has only 1 HR thus far in a general unsatisfying offensive start to the season. It is likely that Martinez’ start is due to the lingering effects of surgery on his legs, but we had definitely hoped to see at least 20 home runs from him this season even if not the 30 he hit last year. That would have contributed an extra 4.
In short, the Tigers DO trail where we had expected them to be in terms of power numbers and that fact is just due to “cold” starts from Ian Kinsler and Victor Martinez, with no one hitting way above their weight to compensate. But that means that what we should expect and plan for is a team which would have 33 HR right now, which would put the Tigers merely 8th in the AL.
A part of this IS how the Tigers are built and the team is not built to be the new Bronx Bombers. Two regular positions are dedicated to glove guys with very little power and the guys that the Tigers are keeping on the bench are there for gloves and speed rather than power hitting.