Austin Romine has made a difference already for the Detroit Tigers early on in the season.
The Detroit Tigers last season were short-handed in key positions such as second base, first base, and catcher. Avila addresses those needs in the off-season with the signings of C.J Cron, Jonathan Schoop, and Austin Romine. Cron and Schoop both brought excitement to the table as they were part of the “Booma Squad” in Minnesota.
When it came to Romine, however, fans thought of this:
He has no hard feelings towards what happen and he said so when he signed back in December. So he was not the “sexy signing” but insight, perhaps the most important one early on. Here are a few reasons why that is visible.
1. Defensive upgrade.
Last year, Grayson Greiner, Jake Rogers, and John Hicks all struggled defensively behind the plate. Combined, they were a -29.1 on Fangraphs “Def” ranking. That includes various catching stats but one that stands out the most was DRS or Defensive Runs Saved. DRS is a measurement of a player’s entire defensive performance, based on how many runs a player can prevent from crossing the plate. Detroit as a team was -85.
Last year, Romine was a -1 for 2019 so granted, the question becomes how much of a difference is that between Rogers, Greiner, and Hicks? Hicks was a -4 and Greiner was -1 but Greiner was -0.1 DEF while Romine was 3.9.
He can call a good game. Case in point in last week’s game against the Reds, Romine called Spencer Turnbull’s start. The difference in using Turnbull’s arsenal was different in his first start. Turnbull gave up four walks in his first start but in his second, just one. The difference? (data courtesy of Baseball Savant)
Perhaps it was a part of the game plan but 87 pitches both starts and the pitching mix on start number 2 was more balanced. Turnbull was using his sinker more and was able to throw his change-up much more effectively. The “get-me” over curveball was not even used. The whiff % in his first start while higher, it was Romine setting up the other pitches that allowed his other pitchers to be used more effectively than going to the slider.
2. Hitting the Ball Hard
Romine is 6th in hard-hit percentage at 45%. While granted, only one barrel to show for it, he had two RBI singles last night. While he does strikeout, that was expected as that is part of his profile but the hard-hit percentage, while a small sample size, is above his career average. Another impressive stat here is how he hits with runners in scoring position. He is 4-for-11 with a .364./.364./.455 and 4 RBIs.
It is only 11 games into this strange season but to see Austin Romine provide solid defense and the clutch at-bats have been a welcome sight. So far, Al Avila has looked good with this signing. The difference in the pitching staff early on. Romine is a calming influence on a young staff. You can’t ask for anything more than that.