There have been few professional sports teams that have been more consistently successful over the last five years than the Detroit Tigers. That model of consistency came crashing down in 2015. This is my eulogy for a failed Tigers season.
It all started so brilliantly. The Tigers roared out to an 11-2 start, dominating with both pitching and hitting. New pieces Shane Greene and Alfredo Simon assimilated perfectly into the rotation and the team had the best offense in the league. The Tigers looked like they once again would be the class of the AL Central. It went wrong quickly.
The teams weaknesses became glaring. Just about everyone who threw pitches for the Tigers struggled. The bullpen went from an Achilles heel to an amputated leg with a revolving door of suck. Shane Greene went from lights out pitcher to unpitchable mistake. Alfredo Simon was atrocious. Anibal Sanchez home run rate went from second-best in the league to second-worst. We paid for Randy Wolf.
The offense would disappear at the worst possible times. It seemed like the team wouldn't hit on days where the pitching was good, and then mash on the days when the pitching was imploding. Most alarming were the mental mistakes. Base running errors became the norm. Loafing ground balls turned into dugout fights.
Then there were the injuries. So many injuries. Justin Verlander was on the shelf until the middle of June, a killer injury with the starting pitching struggles. Joe Nathan lasted a week, which was mockingly cheered at the time, until we saw the other guys pitch. Victor Martinez was basically a 162 game DL trip. Even Miguel Cabrera, the iron man, went on the disabled list for the first time in his career. Oh yeah, and Kyle Lobstein, Alex Avila, Bruce Rondon, and Daniel Norris for good measure.
The end of this season is the time to look back and look forward. Let's once again thank Dave Dombrowski for his 13 years of service and vision that brought the Tigers five postseason trips, two World Series, and four straight AL Central titles. Also, those deadline deals that look even better now than when they were praised in August. Moving forward, there is a lot of work to be done. But the cupboards are not bare. With some savvy moves by Al Avila and the Ilitch backing we have become so used to, the Tigers can contend in 2016.
If this season provided me with anything. it's the reminder that winning baseball should not be taken for granted. As I watch other fanbases get ready for October baseball, I realized that I had been spoiled by the Tigers success. Well, not anymore. I am as hungry for a competitive Tigers team as I have been in my life. The 2016 season can't come quick enough. Only 147 more days until spring training!
Tigers' free-agent pursuit will be robust, expensive - Detroit News, Lynn Henning
Owner Mike Ilitch, GM Al Avila want ensure postseason absence is a one-year sabbatical.
The 2016 Tigers, As They Stand Now - New English D, Neil Weinberg
Neil takes a look at what we know we have going into 2016.
Playoff Odds Graphs - FanGraphs Baseball
Graphical look at the playoff odds across baseball's divisions.
Tigers final grades you'll probably disagree with - Bless You Boys, Catherine Slonksnis
Catherine grades out the Tigers for a frustrating 2015.
Nationals fire Matt Williams after disastrous season - SBNation.com, Marc Normandin
The Nationals wasted no time in making a change in the dugout.
A comprehensive guide to the best of baseball's champagne showers - SBNation.com, Alysha Tsuji
October baseball is here!
Sources: Arizona Diamondbacks fire pitching coach Mike Harkey - Arizona Republic, Nick Piecoro
The Diamondbacks will have a new pitching coach in 2016. They could also use some new pitchers.