In part two of this miniseries where we discuss who’s to blame for the Detroit Tigers’ disastrous start, A.J. Hinch deserves some heat.
I want to preface this article by saying that I love A.J. Hinch. I wouldn’t trade him for any other manager in the league. That being said, he is not immune to criticism.
When a team is off to an 8-20 start, blame gets pushed around through a lot of different people. It often starts with the manager. While I don’t at all think this horrendous start is a direct result of Hinch, I do think he deserves a bit more heat than he’s gotten.
I think that given all the injuries the pitching staff has gone through, Hinch has done a great job managing the staff. It’s hard to think of a head-scratching decision he’s made, whether it be pulling a starter too early or going to the wrong reliever. Say what you want about Gregory Soto, but he’s still the right man for the closer’s role.
However, some of his lineups have left quite a bit to be desired. I’m sorry, but Willi Castro is not an outfielder. In fact, I’m not sure what he is at this point. I’d much rather see Eric Haase out there—he needs the at-bats anyway.
Some of the regulars’ placement in the lineup have been questionable as well. When Jonathan Schoop and Jeimer Candelario have been struggling as much as they have, they can’t be batting in the middle of the order.
Then you may ask, ‘well then who can bat in the middle of the order?’, and that’s a fair question. Please direct that question to the general manager’s office.
Hinch does not have much to work with as far as depth, especially in the outfield. That’s how Willi Castro ends up in center field. That’s where he gets a free pass.
Lastly, I just feel like his leadership hasn’t been as strong to start the season. I get it, he’s frustrated, and he’s probably not sure where to turn at this point. And when you watch his postgame press conferences, he just seems kind of over it.
Obviously A.J. is a guy that is here to win, and isn’t use to stretches like this from his days in Houston. He also isn’t the type of guy that’s going to go on a postgame rant or blow up at the guys in the clubhouse. This isn’t Jim Leyland we’re talking about.
But it was nice to see him show a little bit of emotion in last night’s loss to the Oakland Athletics. Javier Baez was ejected for arguing balls and strikes, and he came out to defend his player.
Frustration has clearly set in. A.J. Hinch doesn’t seem like he knows where to turn, which is understandable. Nobody in the lineup is hitting with any consistency.
But Hinch is a better manager than this. The team would not have gone 77-85 last year without his influence. If the team is able to get this thing turned around in any capacity, it will probably be largely because of him. But right now, he needs to be better.
I’ll say it again: A.J. Hinch is the best manager in baseball. He just needs to start acting like it.