It has been a very rough stretch for Detroit Tigers fans — the losing, the trade rumors, the injuries all seem to keep piling up. The front office continues to bleed the mantra “trust the process” into the media, but no one is buying it. How much longer will this go on?
Nobody really knows.
But for now, let us focus on the present. And currently on the agenda, we have some good (times two!), some bad, and some ugly news.
Beau Burrows is back
After nearly two months on the injured list, pitching prospect Beau Burrows has finally returned to the mound. His first rehab start with the Lakeland Flying Tigers went well — he allowed only one hit along with two walks, while striking out five over four scoreless innings. Burrows remarked that he is pitching pain-free and felt good back out in live action.
The return of MLB Pipeline’s sixth-ranked prospect in the Tigers’ system is a welcome sight for the organization, as the big league team’s starting pitching staff has been decimated by injuries since the beginning of the season. If Burrows can stay on track and get stretched back out, he can expect to pitch under the bright lights of Comerica Park in the very near future.
Matt Manning is up to No. 33
Speaking of top pitching prospects, Matt Manning has moved up to No. 33 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 overall list after dominating Double-AA with the Erie SeaWolves this season. The promotion took him from the No. 49 position — just a hair inside of the top 50 — to the upper third of the list. The move also puts him in the top 10 among right-handed pitchers, though there were no changes to his future value scores.
He is accompanied in the rankings by Casey Mize, who holds the No. 2 spot overall, along with Franklin Perez (No. 63) and Isaac Paredes (No. 84), demonstrating the improvement of the prospect crop in the Tigers’ farm system.
The mystery of JaCoby Jones’ disappearing glove
The Tigers’ center fielder JaCoby Jones dominated the defensive stats last season, but this year has been a completely different story. When he is at his best, both the eye test and advanced metrics agree that he is a Gold Glove-caliber player. But those same metrics that viewed him as the best center fielder in 2018 now see him in a very different light.
Because it takes large sample sizes for defensive stats to stabilize, there remains a caveat for these data only 69 games into the season. However, there have been several occurrences of some bone-headed plays out in the field that corroborate what the eye sees with what the numbers say. Manager Ron Gardenhire blames the vast expanses of the center field position that is aggravated by the weak fielders to his left and right, claiming that he might be shouldering more blame than he deserves.
Despite his recent hot streak with the bat, Jones’ value lies primarily with his glove, so any decline in that area could be a serious damper on his big league aspirations. Hopefully, the numbers start trending back upwards as the summer rolls along.
Tigers at the bottom of ESPN’s rankings
It is no secret that the Detroit Tigers are a bad baseball club this season — easily one of the worst, even in a league that has several teams riding the tank train. But how bad are they really in comparison to their peers? According to ESPN’s lineup tiers, the Tigers place dead-last in the No. 30 spot, behind noted juggernauts Miami Marlins and Baltimore Orioles. The ranking is based on fWAR as well as FanGraph’s Depth Charts projections.
The lack of offense is the biggest knock on the team, with not a single player hitting over 110 wRC+ and only five players above 100 — including part-timers Gordon Beckham and Brandon Dixon. Throwing in Miguel Cabrera’s power-outage combined with Nicholas Castellanos’ underwhelming performance at the plate thus far, there just has not been much production from the Tigers’ bats this season. With the abysmal defense and a pitching staff being held together by medical tape and butterfly bandages added to the equation, it paints a depressing picture of where the Tigers stand currently in their rebuild.
Around the horn
What is going on at the old Joe Louis Arena site? Eno Sarris asks, “Can you play baseball with your eyes closed?” The Chicago White Sox extend the protective netting around Guaranteed Rate Field. A throwback to Grant Brisbee’s “5 Lost Scouting Reports” article. The inaugural Prospect Development Pipeline League for eighty of the best high school seniors gets underway in Florida.
Baseball is fun!
... but try not to take the term “smash-mouth baseball” too seriously, Jordan Nwogu.