With the 2018 season coming to a close, we are providing year-end grades to each Detroit Tigers player who donned the Olde English D in 2018.
The Detroit Tigers 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!
The Tigers had a myriad of different infielders this season. We’ve graded shortstop Jose Iglesias (here) and first basemen John Hicks (here) and Miguel Cabrera (here). With the season finally over, we turn our attention to one of Detroit’s most surprising revelations this season, Niko Goodrum.
The Detroit Tigers signed Niko Goodrum to a minor league contract this offseason, in the hopes that he could compete for a utility infielder role. He spent the previous eight seasons in the Twins organization, finally reaching the big leagues in 2017 and going 1-for-17 with one walk and 10 strikeouts.
As such, expectations were fairly low for the 26-year-old heading into 2018. That’s what makes his performance all the more impressive. Goodrum ended up playing in 131 games, starting 22 at first, 59 at second, nine at third, 10 at shortstop, 10 in left field, and seven in right field.
While his defensive versatility was incredibly useful, it was his bat that really took people by surprise. Goodrum slashed .245/.315/.432 with 16 home runs, 12 stolen bases, a 103 wRC+ and a 1.2 fWAR. He was one of just 28 players to post 16/12 on the season.
If there is one thing to take issue with, it was Goodrum’s defense. He posted a negative UZR at every position except left field, where he only played 81.2 innings. While the versatility is nice, it might make more sense to have Goodrum stick to one or two positions so he can grow defensively.
Goodrum should compete for the everyday role at second base in 2019. That is where he spent the majority of his time last season. Plus, his competition is Dawel Lugo, Ronny Rodriguez and Dixon Machado. Goodrum is considerably ahead of each of them, and unless Detroit spends money on a free agent, it is his job to lose.
Goodrum outperformed nearly every possible expectation that could have been had for him heading into the 2018 season. He is a legit 15/15 threat at the keystone, and if his defense improves he could be a 3-3.5 fWAR player going forward. Hard to see that coming as a relatively unheralded minor league signing.