Detroit Tigers fans are familiar with the musings of Sparky Anderson and what he said about the first 40 games for any baseball team. It is an indication of where you are heading as a team. The first 40 games marks the first quarter of an MLB season, and so far we have seen injuries affect various teams, and plenty of batting averages in the .150 range.
Granted, the expectations for Detroit to be a playoff team are rather far-fetched, but fans expected better. The Tigers still hold the worst run differential in all of baseball (-69) and their bullpen ERA is 6.19, the worst in the league. Even the strikeout rate is abysmal, as the team has struck out 28.5% of the time, which puts them dead last in the league.
The defense, which posted a -12 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) last year, is seeing errors from sure-hand defenders like Niko Goodrum and Jeimer Candelario. Already this year they’ve accumulated -20 DRS, and rank dead last with a -19.3 team defensive rating according to FanGraphs.
If you are looking for a more optimistic point of view about the first 40 games, and hope perhaps the Tigers’ fortunes will turn around, all you need to do is look at the recent past. Since the “rebuild” began under General Manager Al Avila in 2017, only once have the Tigers been at .500 after 40 games, and that was in 2017, when they finished 64-98.
Oddly enough, in 2018 and 2019, Detroit was 18-22 at the 40 game mark, but they finishsed 64-98 again in 2018, and then went an abysmal 47-114 in 2019.
Manager A.J Hinch has tried every single lineup combination possible to unlock some sort of success, but he’s had very little luck so far. So, let’s take a look at the first 40 games and break it down like Chris Brown and I do for our Tigers podcast with the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. While there are some references about how ugly the stats are for the Tigers, we will examine player performances as well.