Former Detroit Tigers’ outfielder Robbie Grossman has already had some success with his new team
Robbie Grossman had a career year last season with the Detroit Tigers that included a 20/20 season. This year, like many other Tigers hitters, he seemingly forgot how to hit, at least from the left side of the plate. He was traded to the Atlanta Braves on Aug. 1, where it was once thought that he would be a platoon bat.
But since the trade, Grossman has started playing close to everyday. Some of that has to do with the off-the-field (and quite frankly, on-the-field) mishaps of Braves’ OF Marcell Ozuna, but he has started to hit much better left-handed.
A report from The Athletic’s David O’Brien (subscription required) went into detail about some changes that the Braves have had Grossman make to his swing just days after arriving in Atlanta. Here’s an excerpt from the story:
"“Soon after the trade, however, analysts from Braves baseball operations presented video to hitting coach Kevin Seitzer that showed what Grossman was doing differently from past seasons when he’d thrived against righties. The outlook started to change.If Grossman saw the same things they were seeing and was willing to work right away on adjustments, Seitzer and the Braves analytics experts thought he might be more than a right-handed hitting platoon player to share left-field duties with Eddie Rosario, as originally planned.”"
In 14 games with the Braves, Grossman is slashing .237/.341/.447, which is much more in line with his slash line with the Tigers a year ago. But his slash line against righties has jumped to .259/.333/.556 with an .889 OPS, compared to .143/.241/.189 with a .430 OPS against RHP in Detroit. It should be noted that this is across 30 plate appearances, so it is a very small sample size.
But nevertheless, this is some more crushing evidence against the Detroit Tigers’ hitting development. Earlier this season, Isaac Paredes had found his power stroke with the Tampa Bay Rays. He has since cooled off significantly, but the fact that this keeps happening is not a good look for the organization.
A.J. Hinch was asked about Grossman’s fast start with the Braves, and this is what he had to say, from The Athletic’s Cody Stavenhagen (subscription required):
"“No. 1, watching Robbie, he looks like he’s exhaled a little bit,” Hinch said. “Some of that is going to come with going into an environment that already has an expectation of winning and the subtle adjustments that are made that can kind of unlock the player that we knew we had with Robbie. Last year he was 20/20 for the first time in his career. So us not being able to unlock that this year was a frustration for all of us.”"
Hinch does make a good point in that Grossman now plays for a good team, and if we’re being honest, a much smarter organization. The Braves currently sit at 76-48, three games back of the New York Mets in the NL East. They also obviously won the World Series last season, so clearly they know what they’re doing.
The big question here is simply why? Why does this keep happening? Why do Detroit Tigers hitters continue to perform much better after leaving the organization? And how do they plan to prevent this from happening in the future?
Hinch didn’t have an answer to the first question, but did have some thoughts on the second one, again from Cody Stavenhagen in the same article from The Athletic:
"“I think we need to take a look at how we can expand our things for players: the people, the influences from above and inside the clubhouse,” Hinch said. “Obviously it’s something that we maybe weren’t going to talk about publicly until Robbie mentioned how much help he had gotten. Happy for him and certainly aware that we need to get better in a lot of areas in and around the organization. As we’ve seen all the unknowns moving forward, that’s a big one: Make sure we have the resources for the players that can bring the most out of them, both downstairs and, quite honestly, upstairs.”"
The fact that this is happening again is an indictment on the entire organization, including Hinch himself. He has the same coaching staff from last year—the same staff that was with Grossman through a career year in 2021, and they couldn’t figure what made him so good last year? Yikes.
We don’t know exactly what happened here. Either the Tigers’ analytics team couldn’t find anything wrong with Grossman’s swing on video, or they did and Scott Coolbaugh couldn’t figure out how to fix it. Or it was neither of those things. Either way, this organization continues to find ways to make itself look incompetent.
Grossman may or may not be fixed in the long term. After all, it is just a small sample size. But stuff like this is why Al Avila is no longer employed. He didn’t hire the right people who could prevent this stuff from happening again and again.
The new GM will have a lot of work ahead of him in fixing this mess. If you ask me, there are only three people in this front office that are safe: VP of Player Development Ryan Garko, Director of Pitching Gabe Ribas, and Director of Player Development Kenny Graham. Everyone else is on the chopping block. Chris Ilitch better get this hire right, because if he doesn’t, we can expect this to keep happening.