Detroit Tigers News

4 Detroit Tigers who are key to a playoff berth in 2022

Mar 20, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Detroit Tigers designated hitter Javier Baez (28) hits a 2-RBI double during the first inning against the New York Yankees during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 20, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Detroit Tigers designated hitter Javier Baez (28) hits a 2-RBI double during the first inning against the New York Yankees during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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Detroit Tigers
Mar 20, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Detroit Tigers designated hitter Javier Baez (28) hits a 2-RBI double during the first inning against the New York Yankees during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Detroit Tigers shortstop Javier Báez

If there is one item to note about the Detroit Tigers off-season moves were some comments that came out anonymously in a recent article in Baseball America ($) which had this line about the signing of Javier Baez and the lineup.

“I don’t love the Javy Baez signing,” an NL front office official said. “He’s not a guy you build around, and now for them, he is. People can say what they want. He’s polarizing. Is he really talented? Yeah, of course. We all know that. But do you really want him hitting in a big spot? I just don’t see him as that guy . . .

“It’s not a good lineup, and then you add a super swinger, I don’t know. It could be ugly.”

The strikeout numbers do not lie about Baez nor about the Tigers. Baez led the league in strikeouts with 184 with a walk rate about 5.1%. Only two players were above 10% for the Tigers in walk rate last season. Candelario (10.4%) and Grossman (14.6%) with Akil Baddoo just under 10% at 9.8%.

In the first half of the season, Baez struck out around a 36% clip. For the second half, the rate dropped around 29% between his last 47 plate appearances with the Cubs and 184 with the Mets to finish out the season.

It wasn’t until June 25th, until the end of the season, that Baez hit. He put up a slash line of .298/.364/.516 with an OPS of .879 over his last 286 plate appearances. The first half of his 2019 season lined up rather similar, with a few more home runs as he went .289/.325/.556 with .881 OPS with 22 home runs and 23 doubles over 376 plate appearances.

The Tigers are already getting a huge upgrade with his glove. Last season, the Tigers were near the bottom in defensive runs saved (DRS) at shortstop at -15. Baez with the Cubs finished at 4 before he went to the Mets and primarily played second. With New York, he produced one of the worst swings last season.

The two factors that will help Baez is making more chase contact. In 2019, his chase contact was at 50% and last season, it was the lowest of his career outside of his rookie season at 46.7%.

As Chris Brown pointed out when Detroit signed him, it isn’t pretty, but even a small increase in contact rate and swinging strike rate makes a difference. Baez recently said he is working on less movement in his swing and with the Tigers hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh, who has helped several players with their swing mechanics, the little increases for Baez will pay off for the Tigers.

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