Detroit Tigers: Could negative perceptions hurt chances at top free agents?

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Sep 18, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Fans hold up K signs for Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (not pictured) during the eighth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Fan Support

One thing a free agent could look forward to by playing in Detroit, is plenty of fan support–whether it is negative or positive.

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Case in point, last Friday the Detroit Tigers had 32,000+ fans in attendance for a late September game with a division rival. If this was 2011, ’12, ’13 or ’14, that would not be surprising as those teams were putting the finishing touches on divisional titles. Meanwhile, the 2015 team is trying to not finish in last place.

Yet in that game, Justin Verlander was not happy with fans booing manager Brad Ausmus. He now joins with several Tigers’ veterans who have made statements about the attitude and/or booing of fans over the last few years. A list that also includes Victor Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, Nick Castellanos, Joe Nathan and Ian Kinsler.

So it is a double-edged sword. The fans show up, but they are not as kind to the players as perhaps they would like.

Take, for example, the Cleveland Indians on that same Friday night. After a horrendous start to a season filled with a lot of expectations, the Indians have had a very good second half and have an outside shot at a playoff berth. Certainly it is a long-shot, but better than most.

Yet the Indians drew just 16,000 fans to Progressive Field in their 12-1 destruction of the Chicago White Sox. 16,000! This is nothing new for Cleveland, who have made playoff runs and near-playoff runs in recent years and played to sparse crowds.

So perhaps a free agent will have to ask himself: Do I want to go to a place where I will play in front of full and mostly-full stadiums and run the risk of being booed or go somewhere where no one bothers showing up?

I think this advantage will be Detroit…

Next: Still a desired destination?

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