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 shuffled quite a few players through the left field spot last season, including Christin Stewart, JaCoby Jones, Victor Reyes (graded here) and veteran Mikie Mahtook, who was unable to hold onto his job from last season.
Mahtook looked like a revelation in 2017. After coming over as a relatively unheralded minor league free agent, Mahtook slashed .276/.330/.457 with 12 home runs, six steals and a 1.6 fWAR in 109 games as Detroit’s primary left fielder.
He went into the 2018 season atop the depth chart, but a horrid spring training and a slow start to the season saw him demoted to Triple-A. From the start of the season until May 22 when he was demoted, Mahtook slashed .188/.227/.261 with a 25.3% strikeout rate and an ugly 24 wRC+.
He spent the rest of May and all of June in Toledo, before returning for 10 days in July and posting a .219 average. He was up for good on August 13, and finally found his power stroke. Over his final 137 plate appearances, Mahtook hit all nine of his home runs with a .203 average and a much better 10.9% walk rate.
His season line was an ugly .202/.276/.359 with nine home runs, four stolen bases, a 71 wRC+ and a -0.2 fWAR. At 28, it’s entirely possible (likely even) that 2017 was his career year. Mahtook is arb-eligible, and I personally think the team will non-tender him. With a glut of outfielders returning in 2019, including Stewart, Jones, Nicholas Castellanos, Reyes, Mike Gerber, Dustin Peterson and Jim Adduci, there just isn’t room for a veteran like Mahtook.
I think it was somewhat expected that Mahtook wouldn’t be a .276, .181 ISO hitter again in 2018. However, a midseason demotion and a batting average barely over .200 is certainly unacceptable. The Tigers were hoping for more from Mahtook, and his lackluster performance has likely ended his tenure in the Motor City.