Happy Monday to you, friendly reader. As we enter the last week of baseball before the All-Star break, the Detroit Tigers sit in third place, a spacious 11 games behind the first place Cleveland Indians. The Tigers are coming off a weekend series where they played the Texas Rangers to a split. It’s not a winning series, but it’s not a losing series, and at this point in the season that at least feels like a victory.
Hey now, you’re an All-Star
The results of the totally legitimate and not at all flawed process of selecting teams for the All-Star game have been announced, and the current lone representative for the Tigers is Joe Jimenez. Manager Ron Gardenhire expressed some frustration that the fella he thinks is the best player (by player he means hitter) on the team, Nicholas Castellanos, wasn’t selected. But, Gardenhire was happy Jimenez got the nod and hopes he gets a chance to pitch. I hope he doesn’t. Getting selected to the team is great, but Jimenez has already thrown 41 innings this year. In an effort to keep his shoulder from disintegrating completely, I would recommend duct taping his right arm to his body and locking him in a closet during the game.
McCann is busted
James McCann is in a slump. His numbers are down across the board, and while he faced a pretty nasty virus that caused him to lose 15 pounds earlier in the season, that isn’t the reason he’s struggling. Ron Gardenhire reports that McCann needs a few tweaks to a swing that has gotten out of whack. Gardenhire comments that McCann “is a good hitter” despite this recent scuffle. McCann turned a bad first half in 2017 into a second half where he hit .291 with a .759 OPS. Let’s see if he can do it again this year.
It’s good to see that he doesn’t seem to be letting it get him down.
Hey, McCann might have the comfiest outfit of anyone on that plane https://t.co/O8Lu3f1KAI— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) July 8, 2018
Down on the farm in Erie, pitcher Matt Hall is putting together quite the impressive season. After he was officially moved to the bullpen to start the year, Hall has split time between starting and relieving. His 1.76 ERA shows that it doesn’t much matter where the lefthander is pitching, he’s just doing it well. Hall has always had a good curveball. The success this year can be credited to fastball command. In his most recent outing, he struck out 10 without allowing a run. I don’t know what the future holds for Matt Hall, but he’s one to keep an eye on.
Drew VerHagen returns
Three weeks after breaking his nose, Drew VerHagen is once again being given the opportunity to frustrate Tigers fans everywhere, as he is being activated from the disabled list. It appears the organization is going to give him every opportunity to try and show he’s a major league pitcher. The fact that he hasn’t been able to prove it yet doesn’t make me all that optimistic, but we’ll see.
Following today’s game, the Tigers optioned RHP Artie Lewicki to Triple A Toledo. Prior to tomorrow’s game, RHP Drew VerHagen will be reinstated from the disabled list.— Tigers PR (@DetroitTigersPR) July 8, 2018
Baez to the bullpen
In a move that is being described as a no-brainer, the Tigers are transitioning pitcher Sandy Baez to the bullpen. It would seem that they believe his fastest path to making an impact on the major league roster is as a reliever. Between injuries and the talent level currently throwing out of the pen in Detroit, it’s hard to disagree.
A little more action
In the latest installment of [insert person here] yells at cloud, John Niyo of The Detroit News thinks baseball is in trouble because there isn’t enough action, that lack of action (read: offense) is the cause of low attendance numbers around the league, and something needs to be done about it. Niyo cites a pace that would record the highest number of strikeouts in league history and the record low league wide batting average of .246 as his evidence of a game that is too strike-y and not hit-y enough. The strikeouts I understand, but when you throw out batting average as your lone offensive stat, I start to smell cow manure.
I don’t want to get into too much detail, but a look at some other numbers seems like it might give a more accurate representation. The current league average OPS is .725. That’s lower than normal, but it’s the third-highest OPS of the last eight years. The 4.41 runs per game teams are averaging is the third-highest total in the last nine seasons. I don’t know that offense is struggling as much as it’s changing, and some folks might be having a tough time with that. Victor Martinez is quoted in the article saying “ I’ve seen guys hitting .200 or .190, hitting 25 homers with 200 strikeouts and they’re good.” That seems like a bit of an exaggeration, but it might be pointing to a reliance on batting average as a more accurate indicator of production than it should be.
Anyway, what Niyo seems to think is that strikeouts, pitching changes, and the shift are destroying the game of baseball, which they aren’t. Baseball is cyclical, so we’ll see offense and defense ebb and flow over time. The current trend is launch angles and sacrificing average for power. There is going to be some reversion to that trend. I don’t know how that will effect the long term trend regarding strikeouts, but I’m also not of the opinion that strikeouts are such a horrible thing. To look at this most current swing of the pendulum and use it as a justification for why attendance is low and why baseball needs to change some rules seems a bit shortsighted.
Let’s check in on Tim Tebow
Time for people to stop snarking about Tim Tebow's baseball skills. At this point basically no difference between Tebow and Mike Trout other than power hitting, contact hitting, speed, baserunning, plate discipline, arm strength, defensive range and fielding ability. https://t.co/4qL4OW6PMf— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) June 29, 2018