There are a few reasons I can tell the MLB season is quickly approaching. The Tigers Winter Caravan has come and gone, and while I normally find myself scouring the internet for any Tigers related news during the offseason, stories of players preparing for the season are abundant. We are rolling through the Best Shape of His Life neighborhood, with the next stops being Truck Day and Swing Adjustments That Look Great in Batting Practice. We’re getting close to baseball. It feels good.
Niko Goodrum started the 2019 season with roughly 300 different types of gloves in his locker. It was understood that, unless it was pitching or catching a baseball, he should be prepared to do it at some point. Injuries and substandard performance by other names on the roster led to Goodrum playing 38 games at shortstop, and that experience has resulted in him rolling into the 2020 season with one glove. The team seems set on letting Goodrum run with the shortstop role, and if he plays like they have seen, there is little reason to think he won’t be able to hold it down.
His rare blend of athleticism, speed and power is enticing. In his two seasons with the Tigers, the switch-hitting Goodrum slashed .247/.318/.427. He’s hit 28 home runs and stolen 24 bases. He’s hit for a higher average from the right side of the plate (.361 compared to .215), but all his power comes from the left (26 of the 28 home runs).
Goodrum enters this year completely clear of the groin injury that sidelined him for the end of 2019, and as he looks to contribute at one position, there is the additional responsibility of stepping into a leadership role in the clubhouse.
Fulmer coming along
With the dawn of a new season we await the return of a man we all hope will continue to be a stalwart of the starting rotation: Michael Fulmer. For his part, Fulmer is happy to be back to baseball. After undergoing Tommy John surgery last year and spending most of the season talking pitching with his infant son, Fulmer is anxious to get back to the routine. Fortunately, his progress is moving along. He is currently throwing from 90 feet with the expectation that he will be moving up to 120 feet soon. In addition to the elbow rehab, he dipped his toe in the Best Shape of His Life pool, and dropped 20 pounds coming into the year. While Fulmer enjoyed the time off, he is ready to get back to baseball, and the team expects his arrival in Detroit at some point later this summer.
For the win
It’s the time of the year where the Tigers’ annual Winter Caravan makes its way around the state, and while there seems to be excitement among those turning out, it’s not exactly a solid read on the fanbase as a whole. As Jeff Seidel writes for The Detroit Free Press it seems like Tigers fans are in a state of hibernation waiting for the team to be good once again. The onus is on the club to put a winning product on the field before they lose a generation of fans.
Long ball problems
Chris McCosky of the Detroit News has an article about Matthew Boyd, and while it seems that McCosky (and others) are willing to blame the juiced baseball for the amount of home runs Boyd allowed last year, Boyd isn’t. He prefers to focus on what he can control and when asked about the high number of dingers given up in 2019, he blamed his pitch selection and control.
“There were a handful of home runs where I threw the pitch I wanted to throw, and it was probably the right pitch, and the guy hit it out,” he said. “Hats off to him. There were a handful that were the right pitch, but I didn’t execute it in the right spot.
“Then there’s a handful where you go, ‘I threw that pitch, but I probably should’ve thrown a different one.’ Maybe you see that in retrospect.”
The wide array of information Boyd has at his disposal regarding the prior season is helpful in figuring out what he can do to improve. Boyd wants to focus on being a legitimate four-pitch pitcher. He has worked tirelessly to better himself in one way or another every offseason, and he doesn’t see this one any differently. He appears focused on regaining that early 2019 form, and hopefully, continuing to wear the Olde English D for quite sometime into the future.
Around the horn
Baseball photos turned into album covers. Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash on Sunday that also claimed the life of a respected junior college baseball coach. Is baseball turning into pro wrestling? Justin Verlander laughed at after saying Astros were technologically and analytically advanced.
Baseball is awesome
Watch Tim Anderson teach kids the fundamentals: batflips.