When the Detroit Tigers acquired Austin Meadows from the Tampa Bay Rays, the fans were excited to see what he would bring to the table. Expectations were high due to the production of the previous seasons and now the Tigers had another productive hitter. Then, the season for Meadows went downhill.
Meadows was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first round (9th overall) in the 2013 MLB June Amateur Draft out of Grayson HS in Loganville, Georgia. After just one year in Pittsburgh, he found himself with a new home, traded to the Tampa Bay Rays in the Chris Archer deal. His stay seemed quite short as well, as he stayed in Tampa Bay for four years before heading to the Detroit Tigers. Meadows was traded again, this time to Detroit for a once-promising prospect, Isaac Paredes.
During his time in Tampa Bay, he became an All-Star in 2019 for the first time in his short career. During his All-Star season, Meadows hit 33 home runs with 89 runs batted in, a .291 batting average, and a .558 slugging percentage. HIs first year in Detroit he had no home runs, 11 runs batted in, 32 hits, and a .250 batting average in 128 at-bats.
Fans were quite disappointed in his performance to say the least. He did suffer some injuries and made a trip to the Detroit Tigers AAA affiliate, the Toledo Mud Hens. However, his struggles went far beyond the injuries and playing field as he was struggling in a different way, which contributed to his struggles at the plate.
Meadows was placed on the injured list with vertigo on May 16th. He came back to the field, but it was not much longer that he made his return to the injured list. In July, he was placed on the injured list again, this time was due to the fact that his Achilles was flaring up in both feet.
What we did not know is that Meadows was also dealing with mental health issues that caused him to sit the rest of the 2022 season in early September. Mental health issues are sadly common, with one in five people dealing with some mental issue. In fact, 52.9 million people suffered in 2020. On November 18, 2022, Meadows agreed to a one-year contract with the Detroit Tigers, avoiding arbitration.
While we all hope Meadows returns to the field in a successful manner and leads the Tigers to the playoffs, we all hope Meadows takes care of his mental state of mind and comes back healthy and happy. If the mind is not right, you as a whole will not be right either.
Meadows is still a player that is young enough to still lead this team and be competitive. A player with speed and raw power, he can return to the form that awarded him with an All-Star nomination. Personally, Meadows should take the time he needs to come back focused and healthy enough to compete. The mind can be a tricky place and can really affect your mental state even if you are a pro athlete. Mental issues are nothing to push to the side and, if detected and taken care of quickly, can change a person's life.