We might be overvaluing Detroit Tigers’ manager A.J. Hinch
Detroit Tigers’ A.J. Hinch is a good manager, but he has two glaring flaws.
Last season, most everyone thought A.J. Hinch was the perfect manager for the Detroit Tigers. His combination of great communications skills, honesty, and a bright analytical mind gave Tigers fans hope for the future. They had thought they had finally found their guy to lead a young, competitive team.
Oh, how quickly things can change. In not even the span of one season, some fans have started to turn on Hinch. They’ve grown tired of him not defending his players and his cliché answers to questions in postgame press conferences, among other things—and it’s hard to blame them.
Umpires have not been kind to the Detroit Tigers this season. It seems like they make a ball call against them at least once a week. It sure would be nice if the manager showed some emotion when stuff like that happens. He talks all the time about how he’s frustrated about how the season has gone. Well, express some of that frustration. Stick up for your guys.
But quite possibly the biggest thing that fans are fed up with is his reluctance to move on from hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh. I’ve been beating this dead horse virtually all season. Coolbaugh is *at least* partially to blame for the Tigers offensive struggles.
They average 3.18 runs per game. The only team that was worse than that in franchise history is the 1904 team at 3.12. They’ve been shutout 17 times, halfway to the MLB record of 33 set by the 1908 Cardinals. That is historic levels of offensive ineptitude.
Coolbaugh may not be the sole problem with the Tigers’ offensive struggles (and recent evidence suggests that problems do indeed go much deeper), but it would sure be nice if somebody in the hitting department was held accountable for this.
I talked earlier this season about how A.J. Hinch is not completely blameless in this mess. That has only gotten more true as the season’s gone on. The Tigers infield defensive struggles? Hinch deserves blame for that. Keeping Coolbaugh around all season? Hinch only enables him by doing that. He has shown no ability to make necessary adjustments all season long, and that’s frankly quite concerning.
Do I actually think he doesn’t care about the team? No, of course not. He wouldn’t have taken the job in 2020 if he didn’t care. But he should at least show some fire every once in while. I get it, he’s a pretty even-keeled individual. That kind of stuff is not really part of his personality.
But it still would be nice to see him show some emotion when one of his hitters gets rung on a pitch well off the plate. He also needs to be willing to make adjustments when things go wrong, even if it means making changes to the coaching staff.
Then there’s the matter of him having a huge role in finding the next GM. Some fans have expressed some concern about that. While that’s certainly understandable, he is still without a doubt the smartest person in this organization right now, though that’s not saying much. If you’re still not convinced, ask yourself this: would you rather have Chris Ilitch make the hire based on his own merit?
In no way am I calling for A.J. Hinch to be fired. Overall he’s still a good manager—certainly the best in the AL Central. But he is far from perfect. He is a part of this organization—an organization that has failed miserably this season, and thus, he deserves some criticism.