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Slumping Tigers: anatomy of a breakdown

What's wrong with the Tigers right now? "Everything," says the numbers.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Tigers are in the middle of a serious skid right now. Since sweeping the Red Sox at Fenway Park, they are 4-13. Let's put that into perspective:


That's how bad it's become. The Tigers are playing worse than everyone, even the worst of the worst.

So what exactly is the problem? Well, to put it bluntly: everything. Let's start with the offense, sorted by OPS.


Funny how we thought it was left field that was going to be a problem in 2014. Unfortunately, it's Torii Hunter and Austin Jackson that are bringing up the rear, behind even the weak-hitting Andrew Romine.

Ian Kinsler and Victor Martinez have the most respectable strikeout rates, but Kinsler isn't walking much, which may be why his on-base percentage is only .297.

Alex Avila is fourth in on-base percentage (behind Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, and Nick Castellanos), most likely because he has the highest walk rate during this team-wide slump, but he also has the highest strikeout rate.

All of this adds up to a team slash line of .239/.303/.398/.701, a power outage by anyone's definition.

At least the Tigers have the best starting rotation in baseball, right? Well, they do, and I'm sure at some point that rotation will start pitching like they're the best. However, since leaving Fenway Park, this is what the numbers look like, sorted by WHIP.


Anibal Sanchez has far-and-away the best numbers right now, and that walks-per-nine rate is just dead sexy. He's been the closest thing to a "stopper" for the Tigers during this stretch, only allowing one run in his last 15⅓ innings. Unfortunately, the offense disappeared during those last two starts and the Tigers lost both of those games.

Drew Smyly and Max Scherzer are still putting up decent strikeout and walk numbers, but they're at the bottom of the heap in terms of runs allowed. In his last three starts, Scherzer has given up a whopping 16 runs, probably due to the fact that 48 percent of his surrendered hits have been doubles and home runs. Smyly, for his part, had two decent starts in which he only gave up three runs per outing, but he also got properly clubbed by Oakland and gave up four home runs in a single outing.

And how about that bullpen? Here's how that situation looks, sorted by WHIP.


Joba Chamberlain has been an absolute ray of sunshine in the weeks-long storm, while the team's anointed closer has been hurting more than helping. Seriously, Joe Nathan has an ERA over 20. I'm not entirely sure how to process these bullpen numbers. When Phil Coke is your "number-three guy" in terms of WHIP, as well as your "number-four guy" in terms of ERA, that doesn't say a lot about the current state of the relief corps.

It's nearly impossible to put a finger on any one area, much less any one person, and say "there's the problem, right there." This slump has truly been a team effort, and they're going to have to work just as much as a team to get out of it.