Detroit Tigers: Baltimore Blunder Makes Brad Ausmus Not So Bad

Sep 28, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus (7) smiles in the dugout before the game against the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 28, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus (7) smiles in the dugout before the game against the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /
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The news quickly spread that Brad Ausmus will be back for another year with the Detroit Tigers. At the same time, so did the news about Buck Showalter‘s bad decisions managing the bullpen last night.

After all of the complaints about Brad Ausmus managing the Detroit Tigers bullpen, it was refreshing to learn that rockstar managers like Showalter do the same.

When the fans complain about a manager, they tend to complain about the small things that occur during individual games. This is what frustrates so many fans about Ausmus.

The Daily Grind

But, those little things were not enough to make the Tigers front office let him go. Looking back at Ausmus’s 2016 season, he did make several small mistakes. But, he also led the team to a record of 86 wins and a second-place finish in the AL Central. He did this despite the injuries and the handful of additions that were actually subtractions. The team was 2.5 games out of the Wild Card and as we all know, it literally came down to the last game.

As regular fans of the Tigers, we get to see his regular blunders. Of course, we notice them when things don’t go well. But, we also need to look at the season as a whole. And, as a whole, the season went well, not great, but well. Ausmus did what he could with who he had. Yes, he made mistakes, but it is clear that the team appreciates what he does. So much so, that they quickly brought him back for one more year.

Showalter Pulled an “Ausmus”

The fan response to Ausmus’s return has not been warm. Hopefully, seeing that managers like the legendary Buck Showalter can make mistakes, helps fans recognize that managers and players are human. Why Showalter did not go to his closer, who happens to be in the running for the AL Cy Young, in an elimination game is still unanswered. Could Zach Britton have made a difference? No one will ever know.

What we do know is that Buck Showalter was the AL Manager of the Year in 2014. We also know that his decision to not play his best pitcher did not do the Baltimore Orioles any favors in the single elimination game. He put on the perfect show of how managers can lose a game.

What has not yet been discussed is that this would not have been a problem if the Orioles scored more runs to guarantee a win. The Orioles did not help their pitchers much all night. So, when the team failed to get ahead, the team put the Showalter in that tough spot where of having to decide what to do in extra innings.

Just Three More Wins

Aug 26, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus (7) takes the ball to relieve starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) in the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 26, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus (7) takes the ball to relieve starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) in the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

This was often the case with the Tigers. They only needed to win three more games to get to the postseason. There were several games where the team did not score any runs and for all the complaining about Ausmus, the Tigers hitters just didn’t pull their weight. For example, take the September 17 game where Justin Verlander pitched against the Cleveland Indians bullpen. Verlander pitched one unbelievable game, not allowing any runs. But, the team could not get a run in and only managed four whole hits against ten innings of bullpen pitchers. Then, Justin Wilson gave up a run. This is on the team and this situation, where the Tigers lost 0-1, happened a handful of times.

Improvements that Must Be Made

Now that we all know that managers can do ridiculous things and that the team is also a contributing factor to losses, there are a few things that I would like to see Brad Ausmus do to take the Tigers deeply into October in 2017. The first is to get the base running under control. His players need to run as if every hit is playable, not to see if they go over the fence first and then run. His players also need to stop getting picked off on the bases. Imagine the runs that would have scored without boneheaded baserunning blunders.

The team also needs to get better at getting runners to home plate. The entire team posted a TOTAL of 38 sac flies and 17 sac hits/bunts. For comparison, the Cleveland Indians has 60 sac flies and 31 sac hits. That’s part of the reason why the Indians made it to the postseason and the Tigers did not. The numbers of runners left on base, especially with the bases loaded was unacceptable.

Next: Detroit Tigers Need Another Pitcher

The Detroit Tigers thought Ausmus was worth bringing back one more time. His contract was not extended, he was simply given one more year. A fifth year will be his to win or lose.