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Tigers struggling offensively, nearly everyone to blame

Who is hitting right now? Almost nobody.

Jim McIsaac

Save for a three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies last week, the Tigers have been stuck in serious post-All-Star break rut. The team is 9–12 since the break and has been outscored 79–84. The pitching staff has been better since the addition of David Price, including a 2.05 ERA from the starters in their last seven games. The bullpen's overall numbers aren't great thanks to a pair of rough outings from lefties Patrick McCoy and Blaine Hardy, but 3⅔ scoreless innings from the back end of the pen on Tuesday was a promising sign.

However, the offense has been sluggish, scoring just 3.76 runs per game since the break. For reference, the Boston Red Sox have the worst offense in the American League and are averaging 3.81 runs per game this season. The Tigers scored six runs during their recent four game series in New York despite only facing one starter that began the year in the Yankees' rotation. In a slump like this, there are bound to be a few culprits. Who is not hitting for the Tigers right now?

In a word, everyone.

Ezequiel Carrera 9 0 0 0 0 .375 .444 .500 .421 169
Austin Jackson 63 1 8 9 1 .362 .413 .534 .415 165
Torii Hunter 66 3 10 10 1 .268 .379 .482 .383 143
Miguel Cabrera 86 3 11 9 1 .329 .395 .474 .380 141
Victor Martinez 82 2 10 11 1 .307 .341 .427 .323 102
Rajai Davis 50 0 7 4 2 .306 .320 .367 .305 89
Nick Castellanos 55 1 4 7 0 .220 .291 .400 .298 84
Don Kelly 15 0 3 0 0 .231 .333 .231 .270 65
Andrew Romine 26 1 3 1 1 .231 .231 .385 .268 64
J.D. Martinez 68 2 7 5 1 .190 .250 .333 .261 59
Eugenio Suarez 51 0 6 2 2 .222 .294 .267 .250 51
Alex Avila 55 1 3 7 0 .176 .218 .314 .234 40
Ian Kinsler 88 0 6 8 0 .202 .227 .250 .214 26
Bryan Holaday 21 0 1 2 0 .158 .190 .158 .160 -11

Since the start of the second half, only five Tigers players have posted a wRC+ of 100 or more. One of those players is Ezequiel Carrera, who has all of nine plate appearances under his belt. Another one is Austin Jackson, who hit .362/.413/.534 in 63 second half plate appearances before being traded to the Seattle Mariners.

This leaves just three players — Miguel Cabrera, Torii Hunter, and Victor Martinez — who are producing at a rate above the league average. And Victor Martinez is barely above the threshold, at 102. Given the amazing first half Martinez had, a .307/.341/.427 line in 87 plate appearances isn't exactly getting the job done. Despite the low power numbers, he leads the team with 11 RBI since the break.

Surprisingly, Hunter has been the Tigers' best hitter in the second half, narrowly edging out Cabrera in both wOBA and wRC+. Hunter also leads the team with three home runs since the break, a big reason why he has the only ISO above .200 on the team in the second half. Speaking of Cabrera, the reigning two-time AL MVP is still searching for his power stroke. Cabrera's .474 slugging average in the second half would be nice for someone like Ian Kinsler, but is well below every full season of his big league career except his rookie year in 2003.

Unfortunately, there is a lot more negative than positive to recognize here. Nick Castellanos seems to have hit the rookie wall, because he isn't hitting much else right now. He is batting just .179/.256/.333 since the start of the Tigers' recent West Coast trip, dropping his season-long OPS to .700. Fellow rookie Eugenio Suarez has been even worse, with a .561 second-half OPS adding insult to his current knee injury.  Andrew Romine hasn't been much better in Suarez's spot, and it's scary to think where he would be if it were not for that Yankee Stadium-aided home run he hit this week.

However, the biggest downers in the second half have been J.D. Martinez and Ian Kinsler. Martinez, while maybe not expected to replicate his first half, was supposed to provide some power behind the heart of the order. Save for a pair of home runs in the Rockies series, he has been non-existent since the All-Star break. His batting average and on-base percentage have both dropped by more than 30 points since the break, while his slugging average has dipped from .654 to .574.

And then there's Ian Kinsler. The Tigers' second baseman was superb in the first half, hitting .303/.337/.470. Since then, his season-long slash line has dropped to .285/.317/.430. His homerless streak dates back to July 3, and is now the longest of his career at 124 at-bats. He has four doubles since the break, but has only walked twice. Kinsler's slump has likely had a significant impact on the offense, given his place at the top of the lineup. With the red-hot Austin Jackson out of the picture, Kinsler's ability to get on base becomes even more important, and he has struggled considerably at doing that in the last three weeks.

Fortunately, the Tigers are not alone in their struggles. Despite only scoring 79 runs since the All-Star break, they still rank sixth in the American League in runs scored during that stretch. The Los Angeles Angels and Baltimore Orioles — both of whom have better overall records than the Tigers — have scored fewer. Same with the Kansas City Royals, who have found other ways to win in order to pick up four games in the division on the Tigers in the second half. With the Royals just 2½-games back, the Tigers will need several players to step up offensively in order to reclaim their big division cushion heading down the stretch.