Detroit Tigers: Robbie Grossman Thinks AJ Hinch is a Difference-Maker
In an interview with MLB Network, new Detroit Tigers outfielder Robbie Grossman says the sky’s the limit with Hinch
One of the most telling signs of a successful manager beyond winning is if former players seek to reunite with their old skipper after they break apart. That is exactly what happened with AJ Hinch and one of the newest Detroit Tigers Robbie Grossman, who was signed to a 2-year, $10 million contract with the Tigers this offseason.
In an interview with MLB Network, Grossman explained the rationale behind choosing to sign with Detroit:
In listening to Grossman, it sounds as if there were two main reasons for picking the Detroit Tigers.
1. The Roster/Farm
We hear free agents talk about fit quite often when signing with their respective team, but Grossman sounds as if he took it a step further. He not only studied the roster, presumably to understand his own fit within the construction of the team, but he also studied the farm system and what was beginning to show up at the big league level.
Given where the Detroit Tigers are in their rebuild, it was likely important for Grossman to see the reinforcements on the way considering his multiyear deal. In the back of his mind, too, had to be a slight interest over his role and if anyone would be on his tail for playing time. For Grossman, outside of Daz Cameron, who is likely to patrol the opposite corner next season anyway, the next-best option in waiting would be Riley Greene–who is likely a late-season call-up in a best-case scenario.
2. AJ Hinch
Perhaps it is on the brink of cliche, but the impact that Hinch has had just by his presence alone has been impressive. Those who were around him in Houston spoke glowingly and those who were not jaded by the sign-stealing scandal have been impressed about his willingness to discuss the situation on multiple occasions and take ownership of his role in it.
Admittedly, the talk about the sky being the limit can be a bit pie-in-the-sky, but Grossman’s affection for Hinch is also present in this quote in an article published by MLive’s Evan Woodberry:
"“I have the utmost respect for him,” Grossman said. “I’m looking forward to working with him again. He was a huge reason that I made the decision I made. We caught up and we talked a little bit about the team and our needs and going forward. I’m all board on and ready to get started and ready to get down to Lakeland.Of Hinch’s personality, Grossman said, “You’re going to see how smart and witty and knowledgeable he is about baseball; how he can connect to players; and how he can talk to players.”"
In the age of analytics and data-driven decisions, the choices a manager makes during a game are becoming less imperative. Teams are not stealing bases as often, bullpens are managed completely different with new minimums on the number of batters faced, and lineup construction has also taken a turn to stats for guidance.
More important is not only the manager’s willingness to rely on such tactics but also the psychology, culture, and influence they have in addition to the staff they hire. In Grossman’s quote, Hinch’s innate skills in these areas prove apparent. Witty, knowledgeable, ability to connect with players. Grossman also spoke in the article on how the Tigers made Grossman feel like he was a priority; something he felt played a role in his decision.
Grossman is perhaps a micro-example of what the Detroit Tigers have with AJ Hinch. If he can effectively leverage the relationships he has been able to cultivate over the course of his managerial career, it will go quite a way in reconstructing a tattered Tigers roster. Spending money helps, too.