How MLB canceling games could help the Detroit Tigers

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks to the media during his visit to Comerica Park. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks to the media during his visit to Comerica Park. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

The Detroit Tigers season has officially been delayed.

Marathon negotiations on Monday gave Detroit Tigers fans some hope of a potential resolution, but reports of optimism turned out to be manufactured by the owners as a way to make players look bad when things inevitably went south on Tuesday.

And so it was that at 5PM eastern time, in a smarmy and disingenuous “letter” to fans, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred announced the cancellation of the first two series of the year:

"So, what is next? The calendar dictates that we are not going to be able to play the first two series of regular season games and those games are officially canceled. We are prepared to continue negotiations. We have been informed that the MLBPA is headed back to New York meaning that no agreement is possible until at least Thursday."

Fans are certainly free to blame the players if they want, but as Michael Critchley wrote yesterday, this work stoppage falls squarely on the shoulders of the owners.

They locked the players out. They refused to negotiate for six weeks. Their “concessions” never came close to a middle ground. And they set artificial deadlines in an attempt to bully the players into accepting a bad deal.

Detente doesn’t seem particularly close, and it’s hard not to feel a sense of dread about the rest of the season. But for now we’ll remain


optimistic about the schedule being shortened by only two series. And if indeed that is the case, this ugly episode may actually work to the benefit of the Detroit Tigers.

How Cancelled Games Help the Detroit Tigers

The 2022 schedules were originally announced in early August, and our Danielle Obal took a look at the club’s opening slate of games. The Tigers were originally scheduled to start the season with seven games on the West Coast, beginning with four games in Seattle and then three in Oakland.

Longtime Detroit Tigers fans know the two main things to look for when next year’s schedule is announced: who they play on Opening Day, and how many times they head to the West Coast.

Why should fans care about trips to the pacific time zone? Because, historically speaking, they stink on the West Coast.

Since 2010

(This year’s club is scheduled to play in San Francisco for the first time since 2008)

Past performance doesn’t guarantee future returns, but from 2010-2021 the Detroit Tigers managed an overall win percentage of .480, with a road win percentage of .438. Neither of those numbers are great, obviously, but they are significantly better than the club’s .346 West Coast win percentage. So maybe missing out on that trip to Seattle isn’t such a bad thing.

And then there’s the opponent factor. Seattle and Oakland combined to win 176 games last year. It’s true the Mariners seemed to benefit from incredible luck in 2021, and the A’s are poised for a fire sale whenever the lockout ends, but it probably won’t hurt the Tigers if they miss out on seven road games against 2021 playoff contenders.

What if the Detroit Tigers miss more games?

Detroit Tigers
Miguel Cabrera reacts while on deck at Tropicana Field. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Unfortunately, this seems inevitable. We aren’t ready to suggest the entire season could be canceled, but April is in peril. Once again, that might not be the worst outcome from a competitive standpoint.

Detroit’s early schedule includes games against the White Sox, Red Sox, Yankees, and Dodgers. Based solely on last year’s performance, April truly is the cruelest month for the Tigers, as their scheduled opponents won at a .535 clip in 2021.

It would be a shame for Tigers fans to miss out on home games against the White Sox, Red Sox, and Yankees, but from a competitive standpoint, the Tigers couldn’t pick a better month to miss.

There are a thousand reasons to hate this lockout. Fans have to wait longer to see Miguel Cabrera’s 3,000th hit. It delays the debuts of Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson. It harms the development of younger players. And it’s just a terrible look for the sport in general.

But if we project a season of at least 130 games, and assume the schedule doesn’t get completely reworked into a 2020-style sprint, the lockout could end up being a blessing in disguise for the Detroit Tigers.

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