The high point of this week so far has been the Detroit Tigers’ Bark at the Park event held Tuesday night, even if the Tigers eventually lost in extra innings. Aside from this pupperific promotion, the Tigers’ skid extended to seven games. Woof!
There is no doubt that the boys with the Olde English D are in the doghouse, and a lot of that has to do with the offense, or lack thereof. While the team has more hitters below the Mendoza line than you can growl at, some of the younger players are looking to break off the chain and take their place as top dogs.
The Tigers are just not hitting
As mentioned in the intro, the Tigers’ hitting has been abysmal this season, with five starters (Jeimer Candelario, recently demoted to Toledo, is one) who are below the infamous Mendoza line — with a sixth hovering just above .200 — and the overall performance at the plate has been at the bottom of the league in almost every category. This article from Forbes takes a look into the numbers.
As of Monday, the Tigers ranked 27th in team batting average and 29th in offensive fWAR, out of a total of 30 teams in Major League Baseball. Funny enough, one of the few teams with a lower team batting average is the Marlins, the current opponent in their home series. Looking at more advanced metrics, the Tigers are 29th in wRC+ with a value of 74, which is 26 percent worse than the MLB average.
In case you’re not familiar with the “Mendoza line” terminology, here is a helpful tutorial that explains it nicely.
Spencer Turnbull for Rookie of the Year
While the Tigers’ bats are in a sad state of affairs, the pitching staff still has a couple of bright spots at the top of the rotation. Rookie pitcher Spencer Turnbull is a legitimate candidate for the American League Rookie of the Year award according to MLB.com’s first poll. The red-headed righty came in third, scoring 23.3 percent of the vote but none of the first-place variety.
It is great to see the Red Bull get national notoriety for what has been a surprisingly pleasant breakout season thus far. If he keeps this up, even if he does not take home the hardware, he may prove to be a stabilizing force in an otherwise chaotic starting rotation for the Tigers for the next few years.
Christin Stewart is “ready to break out”
Another rookie, Christin Stewart, has not been performing quite as well as his pitching counterpart. After a slow start and a trip to the injured list, he has been having a hard time gaining traction in the big leagues. However, according to this article from the Detroit News, he feels like he is ready to break out of his funk soon.
“It’s weird because I feel good at the plate,” he said. “I’ve been stringing together some long at-bats. Just not getting the results I want, but that’s part of it.”
His strikeout numbers are high — especially since returning from the injured list — and his traditional stats are low, which can be attributed to his current difficulties with the fastball. According to Statcast, he is seeing fastballs around 60 percent of the time, batting 6-for-48 (.125) and slugging .292, with a 31 percent strikeout rate.
Despite his troubles, Stewart still claims that he feels comfortable at the plate, and he has managed to hit some balls hard when he makes contact. He added a cliche, “just stick to my routine and trust it,” and noted that he just has to “ride the wave.” Hopefully, the ball starts bouncing his way soon.
More 2019 MLB draft profiles!
In our Monday links piece, we featured our profiles for right hand pitcher Daniel Espino and outfielder Hunter Bishop, along with third baseman Kody Hoese. So far this week, Bless You Boys has published three new profiles: Nick Lodolo, Tommy Henry and Chase Strumpf.
First off is Lodolo, a left-handed pitcher out of Texas Christian University who is currently the top-ranked pitcher in the draft; it is unlikely the Tigers will select him and he will probably fall to the number seven slot on June 3. Henry is another lefty hurler who hails from within the state at the University of Michigan who may be an early round option for the Tigers; he could potentially be the highest drafted Michigan baseball player since 2000.
Lastly, there’s second baseman Strumpf from UCLA who wields a plus batting tool. His glove appears to be just marginal at best, though, which could limit where he plays to the right side of the infield. However, the Tigers are in need of some offense-oriented players on the farm, so he could be a solid option in the second round.
How does that grip work?
Who knew M.C. Escher plays baseball?
what, me? oh, just distracted by this pic.twitter.com/TlLrtlQGKJ— Craig Goldstein (@cdgoldstein) May 21, 2019
Around the horn
The knuckleball pitch has all but disappeared from Major League Baseball, but Ryan Feierabend is bringing it back. Former Tiger Yoenis Cespedes fractures his ankle in a “violent fall” at his Florida ranch. The San Francisco Giants’ dynasty is over, and it was a strange one. Chris McCosky, says “no” to robot umpires for reasons. Miguel Cabrera’s power-outage may be worse than we thought.
Anthony Fenech chats with former Tigers pitcher Steve Sparks and Whitecaps radio voice Dan Hasty. Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard: “You don’t get to change teams.” Does Rule 5 draft position matter? According to the Washington Post, velocity is strangling baseball. Carter Stewart, the Atlanta Braves’ unsigned 8th pick of the 2018 draft, is heading to the Nippon Professional Baseball league. MLB Trade Rumors’ 10 most expensive one-year free agent starting pitchers. New pitch movement leaderboards have been added to Baseball Savant.
Statcast eye candy
About that new data available from Baseball Savant — here is a visualization showing all the pitch categories based on movement.