Detroit Tigers Will Go as Far as Offense Takes Them
By Tom Zahari
Detroit Tigers offenses have generally been among the best in baseball, and this year’s group is no different. Detroit features some high-profile players that could lead the team to great heights.
Detroit Tigers fans know that the Tigers are a team that is based on its strong lineup to out-mash its opponents. With Justin Upton, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and J.D. Martinez in the middle of the order, the Tigers have one of the best lineups in the game. The team’s starting lineup is solid and their bullpen is much improved, but the Detroit Tigers will go as far as their lineup takes them.
Seven games into the season, the Tigers have scored eight, seven, four, four, four, eight, seven and seven runs. Detroit is the only team in baseball that has scored four runs in each game this season.
In 2015, the Tigers were a feast or famine team, scoring six runs or more in 55 games or 34.1%, but two runs or fewer in 63 games or 39.1%. Of the 63 games in which the Tigers scored less than two runs, they went 10-53, meaning they went 64-34 in games where they scored three or more runs. In 2016, the Tigers are 4-2, scoring more than two runs in each of their games. If the Tigers can limit their offensive struggles, they will be in contention in September.
The two biggest factors for the Tigers offense revolve around health and base running.
It seems like Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez are both finally healthy at the same time for the first time in a few seasons and it shows when both of them are in the lineup. With those two healthy, Ian Kinsler and Justin Upton see more fastballs in the strike zone to avoid seeing Cabrera and Martinez at bat with runners on base, and J.D. Martinez benefits by seeing more at bats with runners in scoring position.
The biggest issue that pales the Tigers as an organization is their base running. In 2015, the Tigers were the third-worst team in baseball at taking extra bases on balls in play at 34%. In 2016, that rate is 27% through eight games.
This includes moving from first to third or second to home on a single and first to home on a double. This does not take into account how hard the ball was hit or where it was hit, but it is a good gauge for seeing how well teams run the bases.
In 2015, the Texas Rangers, Chicago Cubs, Kansas City Royals and Houston Astros all ranked in the top six in baseball in taking extra bases and made the playoffs without lineups as loaded as the Tigers on paper with exception of the Cubs.
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If the Detroit Tigers can stay on base without being picked off, caught stealing, or thrown out on the bases while picking up a few extra bases over the course of the game, the top of the order will have more opportunities with runners in scoring position and score more runs.