One week of the 2019 MLB season has already come and gone. Hard to believe, isn’t it?
What might be even harder to believe is the fact that the Detroit Tigers (4-3) own a winning record. Their hitting has been mostly atrocious; their pitching has been mostly remarkable; and they just stole a road series from the odds-on favorite to win the World Series.
While it’s too early for brash predictions or individual player analyses [Ed.: Yeah, about that...], there’s no harm in looking at some numbers that have gotten Detroit to where they currently stand. Here are seven stats that help explain the Tigers through their first seven games of the young season.
Runs scored per game: 1.71
We’re starting with an ugly one. With just 12 runs scored in seven games, the Tigers have scratched out just enough offense to escape with some narrow victories. They have already been shut out twice (with a scoreless streak that lasted 24 innings) and have yet to score more than four runs or win by more than two runs.
This number will go up. It has to. If it’s any consolation, last year’s team scored 3.90 runs per game and was still fifth-worst in the majors. Runs will come eventually.
Batting average: .161
Okay, here’s another ugly one. The Tigers, who are averaging fewer than six hits per game, have the second-worst batting average in the league. So far, they are in a team-wide 37-for-230 slump.
Only Niko Goodrum and Nicholas Castellanos have found their way on base more than 30 percent of the time. The struggle in the batter’s box is real right now.
Batting average against: .176
Finally, something positive! The Tigers have held opponents to a league-low batting average, which makes their own team batting average look less awful. Leading the way is Jordan Zimmermann, whose Opening Day start was part of a remarkable two-hit outing through 10 innings for the team.
But the staff has had some consistency, too. The Tigers have yet to allow more than eight hits in a game — and to be fair, they allowed those eight hits in an 11-inning game.
Home runs: 2
The not-so-bright side: There are 17 players with more homers than the Tigers, including Paul Goldschmidt, who hit three in one game.
Detroit will likely find itself near the bottom of the league in home runs this season like it did a year ago. But its current home run rate is due for a rapid rise. And get this: the Tigers’ two homers this year, hit by Gordon Beckham and Christin Stewart, are the only hits so far for those players.
Strikeouts (as batters): 79
As you should be able to tell by now, all the offensive numbers are trending in the wrong direction. Detroit’s lack of power — in the form of home runs and otherwise — has not translated to improved contact. On the contrary, the Tigers have struck out as much as any other team (tied at the top…or bottom…with the Rays).
They are striking out more than 11 times a game, and more than twice as often as they are recording hits! Strikeouts are on a record pace across the league again this year, but that’s still absurd.
The greatest offender is Jeimer Candelario (10 strikeouts), which is sort of funny because he also has the most hits (8) on the team.
Strikeouts (as Matthew Boyd): 23
If you have watched Boyd at any point through his two starts, you’ve seen a pitcher who has found ways to be totally dominant. His 23 strikeouts are tops in the American League and only one behind reigning NL Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom among all major league pitchers.
Boyd is the first Tigers pitcher (at least since 1908) to record double-digit strikeouts in his first two starts of a season. He recorded a career-high 26 swinging strikes in Wednesday’s start, including 13 on his slider.
Record at home: Unbeaten!
This one is subject to change as quickly as Thursday afternoon, when the Tigers host the Royals for Comerica Park’s maiden voyage this season. But for right now, Detroit is one of 14 teams still unbeaten in its friendly confines… it just so happens that 12 of those teams have not yet played at home.