After losing four straight games to division rivals, the Detroit Tigers finally pulled out a victory against the Kansas City Royals on Thursday night to avoid a three-game sweep as well as amazingly clinching the season series against KC ten games to nine. Despite the win, the boys in the Olde English D are still very much at the bottom looking up.
Tigers reach rock bottom
Dan Szymborski takes a cold, critical look at the Tigers in this piece for FanGraphs, dissecting the current state of affairs from the fall of the “mini-dynasty” to a look forward to what his ZiPS projection model sees in some of their prospects. He illustrates the process by breaking it into four segments, plus some kudos to Isaac Paredes.
The scenario is set up by the Tigers’ approach during the past offseason, letting Jose Iglesias walk, and the signing of stop-gap and reclamation players that failed to pan out. It all went downhill from there.
The 2003 Tigers went 43-119 in their quest to dethrone the 1962 Mets. This group is arguably worse, and it doesn’t look like any kind of regression toward the mean will bail them out of infamy. The FanGraphs depth charts only project 0.5 WAR over the last month of the season for this group, not enough to save them from the top (or bottom?) 25.
One notable storyline from this season is Miguel Cabrera’s unusually precipitous decline in power. Szymborski notes that a regression similar to Albert Pujols is a reasonable path for Miggy to age along, but a “really, really slow Vince Coleman” are the words he used to describe the numbers he has put up in 2019. Even in the era of the “juiced” ball, Cabrera has only smacked ten home runs this season and shown very little of his once prodigious opposite field power.
The good news is that the starting pitching performed adequately and Spencer Turnbull appears to be the real deal. Szymborski is also optimistic about the up-and-coming pitching talent in the minors, especially Alex Faedo. He then tops it off with a ZiPS projection for Paredes that is well worth checking out.
Cole Peterson is growing up
Emily Waldon over at The Athletic takes a look at Cole Peterson, a low-level shortstop prospect who has made his way up the organizational ladder this year. Starting his journey in Lakeland, Fla. with the High-A Flying Tigers, he made his way north to the Double-A Erie SeaWolves before finishing the season in Triple-A Toledo with the Mud Hens. A 13th round selection out of St. Bonaventure in the 2017 amateur draft, Peterson has managed to impress the Tigers brass this year, earning his promotions through the organization.
The root of his game is his superlative athleticism, as he also was a successful high school point guard in basketball before focusing completely on his baseball career. When asked about Peterson, Hall of Fame shortstop Alan Trammell had some encouraging words about the young infielder, and also shares his philosophy on what he looks for in the position.
“The way I judge at shortstop, obviously you like to see the big, strong guys who hit the ball out of the ballpark and to play good defense. But even with that, I’m looking for the well-rounded player, the baseball player. Even if you have some power, it’s not the necessity. It’s doing all the little things.”
Cole Peterson is by all accounts a glove-first player, with a lot left to be desired at the plate. But if can keep doing all of the little things right, he may just be able to carve himself out a decent career as a utility infielder. At least, Alan Trammell believes he will get his chance.
“Cole’s a special kid. As we’ve kind of described, he is an infielder, a shortstop at heart. In my opinion, he’s going to play in the big leagues someday.”
Having a Hall of Fame player mentor you is an incredible opportunity to learn your trade from the best; having their confidence also goes a long way. He has definitely been a fun player to watch grow through the Tigers’ farm system and will continue to be, regardless of the ultimate outcome of his career.
Analyzing the September call-ups
Another FanGraphs post briefly evaluates the Tigers’ September call-ups among other American League teams. Bryan Garcia is seen as a potential long-term reliever for the big league team, and more is expected to come from Christin Stewart and Jeimer Candelario. The rest of the names on the list are rather uninspiring, but for many of them this may be their last chance to catch on with Detroit.
Tiger Stadium’s closing ceremonies
It was 20 years ago when the final game was played at historic Tiger Stadium.
Around the horn
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Baseball is awesome: the coincidence edition
The last time we hit three home runs in an inning...— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) September 5, 2019
September 5, 2018 pic.twitter.com/ndWNKgXRDE