With the 2018 season coming to a close, we are providing year-end grades to each Detroit Tigers player who donned the Old English D in 2018
After receiving a borderline insulting haul for J.D Martinez, Detroit Tigers General Manager Al Avila needed to make a splash in the trade market in the absolute worst way. He had to trade his son to do it. On July 31, 2017, Al Avila dealt Justin Wilson, a highly regarded bullpen arm, and catcher Alex Avila for promising youngsters Issac Paredes and Jeimer Candelario. While Paredes is still likely at least another year away, Candelario came up in September and made an immediate impact, mashing .330/.406/.468.
Jeimer Candelario in 2018
Even with the impressive 2017 cup of coffee, I expected “The Candy Man” to be inconsistent in his first big league season. This isn’t a can’t miss prospect by any means, as he was the 4th ranked prospect in a depleted Cubs system before the trade to Detroit. However, in the minors, Candelario could hit for above average power, had solid control of the strike zone, and sprayed the ball to all fields. His .270/.352/.430 career slash line in the minors projects Candelario to be a solid, but not spectacular hitter in the majors at third base.
In 2018, “The Candy Man” got off to a promising start, hitting .283 in April, followed by .262 in May. The rest of the season, Candelario’s average did not exceed .226 in any month. What that shows me is a hitter that failed to make the necessary adjustments as pitchers adjusted to him.
Part of the issue for Candelario is making consistent contact, as he struck out 160 times. Like most of the young Tiger hitters, he really struggled against breaking pitches. The walks are nice, as 66 walks in a mostly aggressive Tiger lineup projects Candelario hitting leadoff or second to begin 2019.
Candelario was sensational in the field in 2018, as he had a .973 fielding percentage, ranking him first among all American League third basemen. I can see a few gold gloves in his future.
Ok, so it couldn’t be expected for Candelario to get anywhere near his .330/.406/.468 line during his Tiger debut in September. However, I am really disappointed in his ability to make consistent contact after the first two months of the season. While it is true that hitters in the big leagues are striking out more than ever, many of those hitters have 30 home run power. Candelario does not have that power.
I see him as being a line drive hitter that can hit up to 25 home runs in a season. A good comparison could be Stephen Piscotty of the Oakland Athletics- line drive hitter that utilizes all fields, and hits around .250-.280 each season. That’s Candelario’s ceiling, and there’s nothing wrong with that, especially with the way he plays defense!
The Detroit Tigers have found their third baseman of the future as long as Candelario improves upon his .224 batting average, and cuts down on the strikeouts.