Detroit Tigers: 3 players who suffer from a shortened season
No one wanted the 2020 season to be turned on its head, but some players are more adversely affected than others. Let’s take a look at three of them.
The landscape of professional baseball has become difficult to interpret with any certainty due to the volatile and rapidly-changing nature of the global crisis that put the MLB in its current situation. Of course, when the shutdown of professional were first put into place, the idea was to resume playing games as quickly as possible, and the powers that be were even eyeing the possibility of reclaiming the entire 162-game season.
It quickly became obvious that if baseball is going to come back this year, it’ll be in the form of a shorter-than-usual schedule and likely including a number of double-headers. The details are still being hammered out – the story of COVID-19 is still unfolding day by day. Of course, none of the people associate with the sport wanted to play less baseball, but some players will be be more adversely affected than others. Let’s take a look at three Tigers players who suffer from a shortened season.
CF JaCoby Jones
It’s hard to imagine that Jones, the high-upside player that came to Detroit in exchange for Joakim Soría, is almost 28 years old. With speed, power, and an almost intrinsic ability to play center field, the a breakout has always felt just one adjustment away. Things were finally clicking at the plate for Jones in 2019. Brandon Day, a writer at Bless You Boys, coined it “The JaCobaissance” – and aptly so. His wRC+, walk rate, strikeout rate, and isolated slugging had all reached career bests, yet he only played half a season. Injury cropped most of his potential for gameplay out of the picture.
The last thing that Jones needs now is another partial season. If he’s going to stake out a place on the Tigers’ roster as they turn the page on the current rebuild, he needs to prove that the changes he made are real and sustainable. His physical abilities are unquestionable, and the Tigers retooled his swing to resemble the changes made by Arizona’s Nick Ahmed. Entering 2020, it’s clear that every game will be an important opportunity for Jones to showcase why he should be allowed to keep his place on the team.
RHP Franklin Perez
Rare are the moments quite like when Perez stepped on the mound for the first time this spring. As the main player received by Detroit when they sent Justin Verlander to the Astros, the emotional weight that Perez carries among Tigers fans is difficult to explain. That’s especially true thanks to the fact that he’s been suffering from vague ailments that have kept him off the field with a mere 27 innings of gameplay since August of 2017. It’s a strange situation that defies standard classification. Finally healthy for the first time, the quality of his pitches seemed mostly intact during his appearances in Spring Training and he was throwing at max effort without pain.
In the haziness of injury and lost time, it’s easy to lose track of just how advanced Perez was when the Tigers acquired him from Houston. He had pitched his way all the way to Double-A as a teenager after converting from third base and he’s still only 22 years old for the rest of the year. The 2020 season was an important opportunity for him to reestablish himself as a top prospect in the organization, and pitching a full season of baseball would have gone a long way toward that end. Instead, he’ll be making of the opportunities he has while trying to stay afloat in a sea of excellent pitching on the Tigers’ farm.
3B Isaac Paredes
Although he was a distant second to fellow infielder Jeimer Candelario when the Tigers acquired him from the Cubs, he has slowly eclipsed the player he will likely supplant in the major leagues. The 21-year-old has consistently been younger the competition and consistently beaten up on opposing pitchers. He was slated to begin the season as a member of the Toledo Mud Hens, and he had a good chance to make his MLB debut at midseason. Projected as a key member of the offense in the next era of Detroit baseball.
Instead, as the shortened season drives MLB’s decision-makers toward more conservative choices and reminding owners just how precious their profitable bottom line is, it makes Paredes’ debut unlikely to come during the 2020 season. He’ll still be positioned well to claim a place on the 2021 opening day roster, possibly as an everyday player, but it’s an unfortunate turn of events for him. Of course, there’s still a non-zero chance he’s in the major leagues at some point in 2020, but the precautionary shutdown of professional baseball was a major blow to those odds.