Why this Detroit Tigers season is more painful than any other rebuild year

Detroit Tigers GM Al Avila watches action against the Pittsburgh Pirates at LECOM Park on Saturday, March 19, 2022 in Bradenton, Florida.Tigersphil
Detroit Tigers GM Al Avila watches action against the Pittsburgh Pirates at LECOM Park on Saturday, March 19, 2022 in Bradenton, Florida.Tigersphil /

This Detroit Tigers team is a more painful watch than any team in the last five years for one reason: expectations

Heading into the 2022 season, I could finally see the path to the playoffs for the Detroit Tigers. Robbie Grossman found his power stroke last season and would continue his over-the-fence pop and on-base abilities, Jeimer Candelario was that 3-4 WAR third baseman we all thought he could be after leading the league in doubles with 42, Casey Mize was looking like the workhorse arm many thought he would be upon draft day, Eduardo Rodriguez would provide stability and a veteran presence to a young rotation, Jonathan Schoop could be penciled in for 20 home runs and solid defense, Michael Pineda would be an innings-eater arm that would come close to that 175 IP incentive, and Javy Baez might swing and miss a lot but he’ll hit 25+ home runs himself, right?

As we know, none of that has happened thus far for the Detroit Tigers. Some of it is a product of bad fortune, but yet again the franchise is in a position where they need to focus on getting help for future clubs over making this one better–considering they go into the weekend 12 games out of the division and 10 games out of a wild card spot.

In terms of results, this team is very similar to others we have endured during the club’s rebuild. They’re on pace for a 62-100 finish–not as bad as their abysmal 2019 season in which they lost 114 games under Ron Gardenhire, but not even close to the 77-85 record the team had in 2021. Although this season has been more of the same for fans, the ethos cultivated by fans surrounding the club is starkly different.

Plainly, this team should have been better. Of course, we know baseball is weird, and teams over-perform and underwhelm all the time. But expectations play a major role in why many feel the GM and/or the coaching staff should be on the hot seat. Between the signings of Rodriguez, Baez, and Chafin coupled with the trades for Austin Meadows and Tucker Barnhart, fans rightly viewed all of these additions as upgrades to their team last year.

This also takes Torkelson and Greene out of the equation, who were both top-10 prospects in the game and while they were not expected to carry the team, they would carry their own weight enough to hang and provide some fun moments. That hasn’t happened, either.

It is good that the Detroit Tigers now have some sort of expectation with them. Local papers and sports radio actually discuss the team with a sense of urgency and concern because many felt this team was capable of competing for a playoff spot, Al Avila included:

Make no mistake, 10 games isn’t some insurmountable number to achieve this summer. That said, fans and analysts alike need to have a reason to believe they can still achieve their goal in spite of the results to this point. Those reasons for optimism have been Riley Greene and a lot of finger-crossing that this team will start to consistently hit the ball over the fence, together, at the same time.

This isn’t a call to fire a GM or a coach. I’m not pounding my figurative fist on the table for a roster move. I don’t need a fire sale this July to blow it up again. I’m not calling for an athletic trainer’s head. I don’t have a magic cure to save this season, nor does anyone else.

This is a simple admission from a lifelong fan that I am personally less interested in watching this product than any other year during Avila’s tenure as GM through this rebuild. Not only that, but my outlook for future seasons has also become cloudier. This team isn’t this bad and there are a lot of things that have happened that are not within anyone’s control. My fear, however, is that my frustration with the Detroit Tigers is slowly leading to apathy.

Next. Detroit Tigers to call up top prospect Riley Greene. dark