Even though the season is still young, the Detroit Tigers have not found much success in the batter’s box.
With 29 games played, Detroit’s 101 runs rank last in the AL along with a .233 team batting average which is 3rd worst in the AL. Detroit’s pitching rotation of Matthew Boyd, Daniel Norris, and Spencer Turnbull have given Detroit Tigers fans some sense of optimism. However, it all goes to waste when not many runs are crossing the plate.
The stat line that sticks out like a sore thumb is JaCoby Jones’s continued lack of production. After his shoulder injury he sustained during Spring Training, Jones was brought back to the starting lineup April 11th against Cleveland. Since then, Jones has a batting average of .138 going 4-for-35 in his last 10 games.
Hitting struggles are not unfamiliar for Jones. He had a solid minor league career at the plate, averaging .278 with 47 home runs and 203 RBIs from 2013-2016. However, those numbers vanished once he made it to the show. The Detroit Tigers called him up in 2016, and he has a career average of .194 in his 215 games—not to mention Jones has consistently found himself batting ninth in the lineup.
So, you are probably asking, how do we fix this? The first solution is pretty simple: keep Jones in the lineup and hope he shakes this lousy form. Earlier this week, Jones hit an RBI single against the Phillies to tie the game in the top of the sixth and was able to maintain a two-game hit streak from April 24th to April 25th.
Overall, he only gets on base less than .217 of the time and is striking out 38% when he gets to the plate. There are small signs that Jones may be able to break through, but so far, none have come to fruition. The Tigers will most likely continue with Jones at centerfield for the time being, but if this slump continues into the thick of May, the team could explore a couple of alternatives.
Option one involves calling up Dustin Peterson from Toledo. Peterson was on Detroit’s roster at the beginning of the season and was called down this week, most likely to open up space because of returning injured players. In the majors this year, Peterson has a .227 batting average with six RBIs.
These stats do not scream immediate fix, but it would provide a bit more support at the plate. Peterson has gotten a hit in each of his five games in Toledo so far, including a 5-5 effort his last game against Columbus on May 2nd.
Peterson plays most of his ball in left field. He has been very efficient out in left, and I do not see any reason for a change. I suggest moving Niko Goodrum to centerfield. Goodrum has had meaningful reps at center this season, and he has the speed to hold his own out there. Bringing back Peterson will not solve all of the Tiger’s woes, but it is a step in the right direction.
The second option, though less appealing, is calling back up Mikie Mahtook. Any dedicated Tiger fan will remember his abysmal start to the season. For those who need a quick refresher, Mahtook started the MLB season going 0-23 with only getting on base two times via walks. He was promptly sent down to Toledo on April 13th.
Once he arrived in the minors, he started to turn his season around. Mahtook is batting about .383 for the Mud Hens thus far with four home runs and 14 RBIs in only 13 games. If numbers don’t lie, this is good news for Mahtook. Since there is a sample size of stats, if he continues to play at this level, there is a good chance he could find himself back in the majors this year.
Again, there is a chance that by this time tomorrow, JaCoby Jones could go 4-4. Heck, he could hit even a home run. As of right now, Jones is still hunting for hits, and Tigers fans should hope he finds some soon.