Whether it’s the managing or the fans just overestimating the talent, the Detroit Tigers lack a certain characteristic that’s hard to put your finger on.
Let me preface this article by saying that it is definitely too early to press the panic button on the Detroit Tigers’ 2016 season. The team is 9-10 entering Wednesday and has seemingly an endless amount of time to show what they’re made of.
I have to say, though, and it’s been building ever since Jim Leyland left town, this team just doesn’t seem to have a knack for getting the big hit at the big time. Guys like Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez, who are going to put up big numbers this season, just seem to lack a certain something when the team really needs them to come up big.
Cabrera had his chance on Sunday, coming off the bench with the Tigers down three runs to the Indians and the bases juiced.
He didn’t even put the ball in play, fouling out behind the plate.
Yes, Cabrera went on an absolute tear in the follow-up game Monday against Oakland, going 4-for-4 with two home runs and four RBI. This dude can still rake with the best of them.
The problem I have is that these guys seem to put their numbers up in chunks, using big days to hide the fact that they are routinely boosting their average with hits that come when the game is already well in hand or when nobody is on base. It’s a bit distressing.
Like I’ve said a lot in the past: I don’t think Brad Ausmus is the right guy to manage this team. I believe the Tigers struggles in big situations stems from the fact they have a manager who routinely looks like a deer in the headlights.
Leyland had a fire about him, and his players played like their manager managed: Care free.
Ausmus seems to be a guy that leans more toward the new-wave of managing, leaning heavily on percentages and analytics instead of going with his gut. Leyland coached from his gut and trusted his players’ instincts. Ausmus seems to have them thinking just a little too much at the plate.
Even with a guy whom a lot of us consider the best hitter on the planet in Cabrera, there seems to be a sinking feeling when the Tigers are behind by more than a run in the later innings. Percentages are always in a pitcher’s favor, but I get the feeling that a lot of the Tigers’ opponents know that if they can keep them down in the early innings, that the Tigers will just wilt away.
Another worry of mine is Justin Verlander, who is at a crossroads in his career. If he doesn’t fix whatever is going on with him early in this season, he’s also prone to fading away and becoming a big hindrance to this organization going forward. Maybe it’s just time to let JV pitch and stop tinkering with his delivery and secondary pitches.
The Tigers are a soft and mentally fragile team, and something needs to change. They’re not getting any younger and the window is closing on a lot of these guys. This season really has a ‘put up or shut up’ kind of feel.