The next Detroit Tigers manager could be a familiar face in Marcus Thames.
“Country Strong” was the name that former Detroit Tigers color man on Fox Sports Detroit Rod Allen gave to Marcus Thames during his playing days in Detroit. From 2004 to 2009, Thames was a big part of the Tigers’ outfield platoon with his moon shot home runs.
According to Jon Morsi of the MLB Network, Thames is being considered for the vacant Detroit Tigers manager position.
Marcus Thames started his coaching career with High-A Tampa in 2013 as the team’s hitting instructor. It was fitting for Thames, who started his career as a Yankee, being drafted in the 30th round in 1996. Thames moved up quickly before landing in Triple-A Scranton in 2015. The following season, Thames was named assistant hitting coach under Joe Girardi in 2016 and was promoted to the hitting coach when Aaron Boone was named the manager.
In an article from the Atheltic back in February ($) by Lindsey Adler, Thames worked with assistant P.J. Pilittere as Boone juggled the various lineups New York had with all the injuries. Their offense was second only to Houston in offense in 2019 and once again with injuries in 2020 affecting their lineup, they kept rolling as they are tied with the Twins in the AL in offensive fWAR with 9.6.
Thames has been praised by the likes of Clint Fraiser, DJ LeMahieu, Luke Volt, and others, for helping them with their offense game. And it shows. All three among the top 20 offensive players in the AL.
Why It Would Work for the Detroit Tigers
Thames had a really good quote that applies to the Tigers offense that will be very young heading to 2021. He said it is important to keep the young stars’ confidence up. It sounds very simple but if you think about it, when you are coaching, you are not always breaking down film or swing mechanics. Sometimes, you need a few encouraging words. That might sound super hokey but it makes sense.
For all the various different players Thames has come across, he has kept the Yankees’ offense going. Judging by the media’s reaction, it would be a huge loss for New York. With Candelario, Willi Castro, and Victor Reyes taking small steps forward, Thames could be a huge benefit to help them grow more.
Why It Would Not Work for the Detroit Tigers
He has never managed before and from reported accounts from Ken Rosenthal ($), they are looking for a manager with experience. Also, a factor to consider. Hitting coach Joe Vavra. Last month, I wrote about the difference he has had with the Tigers’ hitters. If Vavra stays on for next season, it could be two different coaching styles at play.
Just based on lack of experience should not be the only reason why Thames should not get the position but if Tigers fans have learned from the whole Brad Ausmus situation, a steady, veteran hand to handle when the team struggles could be the better choice.
Thames is doing outstanding work in New York, the biggest spotlight in baseball and handing it as he did as a player, just going about it in a calm, cool, matter with many resources at this disposal. Detroit has a lot of young players who Thames could help become better hitters but that also starts on the developmental level and Detroit may not have the same resources. The Yankees are a player developmental machine while Detroit has made strides but still has ways to go.
I reference the player development angle for this reason. The Tigers lead the American League in K% at 27.3% while the Yankees are near the bottom of the league around 21%. That starts with the players that are drafted and the philosophy in the system.
I joke around with my friends when the Yankees play on Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN because the game seemly take forever. They drive up counts and most importantly, they walk. The Yankees lead the league in walk rate at 11.2%. As the Tigers continue to develop and find a tone for their minor league players, I hope it matches what Thames and the Yankees are doing in New York. If he came to manage the Tigers, I would be just fine with their approach.
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