AJ Hinch acknowledges team's growing pains as Tigers fans' frustration grows

Milwaukee Brewers v Detroit Tigers
Milwaukee Brewers v Detroit Tigers / Duane Burleson/GettyImages
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The mood for the Tigers and their fans coming into the season was cautious optimism. The team's offseason moves garnered at least lukewarm grades from baseball pundits (they usually averaged a 'B' for additions like Kenta Maeda, Jack Flaherty, and Mark Canha), Tarik Skubal received early hype as a dark horse Cy Young candidate, and the young, mostly untested hitters in the lineup gave us hope for some breakout seasons.

Some potential did become a reality. Skubal is looking like a lot more than a dark horse for the AL Cy Young, Riley Greene has been hitting a lot better since his slow start to the year, Canha does indeed have the best OBP of all qualified hitters, Jack Flaherty has been having a great bounce back season.

But these individual performances aren't enough to make a successful team. The bullpen looked great through the first month of the season, but their collective ERA has since dropped to 17th in baseball. Kerry Carpenter got hurt; Spencer Torkelson and Parker Meadows were optioned back to Triple-A, and Colt Keith might be on the way next. Kenta Maeda's starts tend to give fans whiplash every five days.

The Tigers are 33-35, 3.5 games behind the AL Central's third place Twins and 11 games behind the first place Guardians. AJ Hinch, whose contract extension in the offseason was another plus for the Tigers, had some thoughts on how the Tigers have been faring as they continue to slip down the standings.

AJ Hinch is at least self-aware about Tigers' struggles after disappointing performance so far

Hinch seemed just as confused about the cognitive dissonance between fantastic performances from Skubal, Greene, Canha, and the like, and the middling-to-poor performances from everyone else.

On 97.1 The Ticket, he said, "I know everybody’s frustrated with the lack of accelerator trying to get to the other end of this .500 (record). Trust me, it’s keeping us all up at night because we have some ingredients that we feel like should be better. We also are very proud of some other things. You can bang your head against the wall if you’re not careful with some of the back and forth."

Fans are definitely banging their heads against a wall. The Tigers aren't implausibly out of reach of the last Wild Card spot in the AL, but neither are the Red Sox, Rangers, Blue Jays, or Rays. If Detroit really wants to live up to all of the refreshing, reinvigorated excitement the team managed to garner from fans at the beginning of the season, they need to find some way to make their success more holistic before fans totally turn on them again.

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