During the 2013-2014 offseason, the Tigers transitioned to a team who utilizes more speed instead of power. They added Rajai Davis, Ian Kinsler and Andrew Romine to the roster and stole 106 bases as a team, good for fourth in the American League.
During the next offseason, they added more speedsters, with Anthony Gose, Yoenis Cespedes (now traded to the Mets), and Jose Iglesias, who returned from injury, while still retaining Davis, Kinsler and Romine. The Tigers had a good foundation to take advantage of the running game: steal bases, pinch-run, hit-and-run, etc. However, the Tigers are below last year’s stolen base pace, stealing 65 bases in 113 games, which projects to 93 steals over a 162-game season. Furthermore, looking deeper in the base running stats, the Tigers are just simply not very good.
The Tigers’ 65 stolen base ranks fifth in the American League. However, they have also been caught 38 times, most in the AL. The 63 percent stolen base success rate ranks below the league average of 69 percent, and is tied with Baltimore for fifth-worst in the AL. Out of every Tigers player that has attempted to steal at least one base, only Rajai Davis has an above average stolen base percentage.
|Player||Stolen Bases||Caught Stealing||Stolen Base%|
The baserunning problems don't end there. The Tigers are tied with the Texas Rangers for the most pickoffs in the AL at 16. Ian Kinsler has five of them, which "leads" the league. Of those 16 pickoffs, nine of them have been of the pickoff-caught-stealing variety, which also leads the league. Kinsler and Gose has combined for five of them.
Baseball-Reference also tracks "outs on base." These are situations when a runner gets thrown at a base when a batter puts the ball in play. Therefore, it doesn't count times getting caught stealing, pickoffs, or even force plays. What is tracks are outs from attempting to advance on a fly ball, getting doubled off on a lineout, going for an extra base and attempting to advance on a wild pitch or passed ball. The Tigers have 44 outs on base, fifth-most in the AL. When James McCann attempted to score in the fourth inning of Tuesday's game against the Kansas City Royals, that marked the 17th time a Tiger runner attempted to score and was thrown out, which now leads the AL.
Speaking of taking the extra base, the Tigers have only been successful in taking the extra base due to fly balls, passed balls, wild pitches and balks 80 times this year, the lowest total in the AL. With a runner on base and taking an extra base on a single or more than two extra bases on a double, when possible, the Tigers only do so 34 percent of the time, also the fewest in the AL.
The Tigers simply have not been a good base running team, despite the amount of speed that is on the team. Omar Vizquel is the Tigers base running coach, so he gets some of the blame here. However, this is yet another blunder on Brad Ausmus' resume.