With the season drawing to a close, we are going to provide year-end grades to each Detroit Tigers player who donned the Olde English D in 2018.
The Detroit Tigers have nearly completed the first year of what looks to be a multi-year rebuilding process. While the team was hard to watch at times, there is still plenty to evaluate from this season as we look ahead to the next few years.
As with any team, there were a lot of excellent performances, surprise performances, and of course disappointing performances. Here at Motor City Bengals, we are going to be evaluating each player who suited up for the Detroit Tigers this season. We will analyze how they performed, what their future holds in the Motor City, and we will provide them a grade.
Note: the grade will be relative to what was expected of them. So a player who performed well above expectations may earn a B or an A, even if their actual season numbers are not that elite. If you disagree, feel free to drop us a comment. We would love to have discussions about these!
Injuries cut short multiple Tigers seasons, including Jose Iglesias (graded here) Michael Fulmer (graded here) and John Hicks (graded here). None were felt more than the injury that cost the Tigers their superstar slugger, Miguel Cabrera, way back in June.
Miggy only played in 38 games this season, coming to the plate 157 times. His numbers in those plate appearances were studly, as he slashed .299/.395/.448 with a 14.0% walk rate, a 17.2% strikeout rate and a 128 wRC+. His power was limited, as the big fella only managed three home runs and eleven doubles. His back injury likely hampered some of his power, but his trademark plate discipline was still intact, and he still hit the ball hard at a 46.3% clip.
His 13.6% HR/FB rate was a bit lower than his career norm, but the primary culprit was a career-high 54.6% ground ball rate – along with a 20.4% fly ball rate, well below his next lowest mark.
For Miggy to return to his power-hitting ways in 2019, he’ll need to find more loft in his swing. If he does, which I imagine a full year to heal and a move to the DH spot will help, he should be in line for 25+ home runs once again next season.
Obviously it’s tough to grade a player who missed so much time. His actual performance, relative to what his expectations are, is something like a C or C-. The injuries could lower that, although that hardly seems fair. I’ll go C-, since three home runs and only 38 games played are certainly below average, even if the circumstances are outside of his control.