The Detroit Tigers did not have a great 2018. This comes as no surprise, and on some levels is encouraging as the team successfully rounds out Year One of the rebuild. The on-field product has been difficult to watch at times, but thankfully the season is coming to an end after a year full of deficiencies.
As excepted, the offense had a rough time this season. With 609 runs (26th), a .242 batting average (22nd), and a 85 wRC+ (25th), the Tigers land in the bottom 10 of most important batting metrics. However, it is their 133 home runs (28th) that really stand out as the team enters the final week of the year.
The Tigers have never been the top-slugging team in baseball. Since 2010, they have almost always found their home run total somewhere in the middle of the American League; even last year’s team ranked eighth with 187 dingers.
But with just a handful of games left on the schedule, Detroit will finally hit the bottom of the rankings. The Tigers are currently last in the AL in home runs, and the next closest team is the Tampa Bay Rays with 145 homers this year, 12 more than the Tigers. Barring an unlikely power surge, the battle is over.
Losing Miguel Cabrera was certainly a big reason why the team struggled in this department, but the supporting cast was barely up to the challenge. Nicholas Castellanos leads the team with 22 bombs, and young Jeimer Candelario has added a solid 19. Outside of Niko Goodrum and JaCoby Jones, though, no other Tiger has reached double digits.
Instead of dwelling on all of the negatives for too much longer, here are a few fun superlatives from the pitches that did leave the park this season:
Hardest-hit home run
JaCoby Jones - 111.6 mph
Longest home run
Mikie Mahtook - 445 feet
More like REIGN DELAY amirite? pic.twitter.com/brJ7fp8wXs— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) September 6, 2018
Highest launch angle home run
Leonys Martin - 42 degrees
While this season’s home run tally was less-than-stellar, the future brings hope for the Tigers. A healthy Cabrera and a returning Castellanos would definitely boost the numbers up top, and continuous improvements from the youngsters such as Candelario, Jones, and Christin Stewart should only bring the total upward. There are more ways to win a game than through homers alone, but it is hard to envision the 2019 Tigers not bouncing back from this year’s long ball woes.