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.
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!
A handful of Tigers infielders have already been evaluated, including Jose Iglesias (here) Dawel Lugo (here) Niko Goodrum (here) and Jeimer Candelario (here). Now, we take a look at Detroit’s potential starting shortstop in 2019, Ronny Rodriguez.
The Tigers signed Ronny Rodriguez as a minor league free agent after he hit 17 home runs and stole 15 bases for Cleveland’s Triple-A affiliate in 2017. Rodriguez’s performance for Triple-A Toledo was even better than advertised, as he managed to slash a blistering .338/.365/.558 with nine home runs, 10 stolen bases and a 158 wRC+ with the Mud Hens.
However, he was completely unable to carry that success over to the big leagues. Rodriguez saw 206 plate appearances with the Tigers, slashing .225/.261/.340 with five home runs and two stolen bases. He struck out in 20.4% of his plate appearances, while walking at just a 4.9% clip.
Rodriguez did show off his defensive versatility, starting seven games at first, 13 games at second, eight at third, 19 at shortstop and even playing one inning in right field.
Ultimately, Rodriguez should carve out a future as a big league utility infielder, who is more bat than glove. However – he is probably atop the depth chart at shortstop for Detroit right now. With Jose Iglesias set to hit the market, the Tigers have Dawel Lugo, Rodriguez and Niko Goodrum for the two infield spots. Goodrum and Lugo are better suited for second, so Rodriguez may end up starting at short if Detroit doesn’t find a veteran to fill that role. If they do, he will battle Lugo for a utility role in 2019.
Rodriguez was a quintessential Quad-A player this season, kicking ass in Triple-A but struggling at the big league level. While expectations weren’t sky-high for the 26-year-old career minor leaguer, it is frustrating to watch a player tear the cover off the ball in Toledo and struggle mightily in the big leagues.
Hopefully by 2019 he will bring some of that hitting with him when he is in Detroit.