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Detroit Tigers News: Victor Reyes is on the rise

The contentious Rule 5 pick has proven his doubters wrong so far this season thanks to a few adjustments.

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MLB: SEP 01 Tigers at Brewers Photo by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Entering today’s doubleheader with the Minnesota Twins, the Detroit Tigers sit straddled right on the .500 mark with a 17-17 record in this COVID-19-shortened season. It has been an up-and-down summer, for sure, with Detroit owning a nine-game losing streak as well as a six-game winning streak along the way, and despite a loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday night, the team remains on the upswing heading into this weekend’s pivotal series with the Twins.

One of the biggest reasons for the Tigers’ success this season has been the play of one Victor Reyes, a Rule 5 draft selection in 2017 and a perennial pariah of the fanbase coming into this year. But something has changed in the 25-year-old outfielder, and it was not adding to his already massive 6-foot-5-inch frame.

Victor Reyes’ tour de force

Many have held low opinions of Reyes over the past three years, including your humble author, but boy the times are a-changin’. Jules Posner over at Forbes takes a look at the difference between the Victor of 2019 versus what we are seeing in 2020 in his article published on Friday, and what he dug up is quite interesting.

Last season, Reyes’ traditional stats were good but the advance metrics predicted a regression — one that has yet to occur. What has hurt him the most is his inability to draw walks, which sits at a paltry 3.4 percent this year, down from a still-embarrassing 4.8 percent in 2019. However, despite his failures at earning free passes, he is making better and harder contact now, which has allowed him to untap the unharnessed power stored in his mammoth frame. As a result, he has turned into something of a capable major league regular on offense in 2020, which is a bit of a coup for Al Avila and his savvy for finding gems in the rough.

However, Reyes has also been flashing the leather quite well of late, adding even more value to the former Arizona Diamondbacks farmhand. FanGraphs has his defensive fielding and positional adjustment rating at 1.0 and his overall defensive runs saved in the outfield at 3.0 — a bit above average — while Baseball Savant has his outs above average at an even zero, with his expected catch and actual catch percentages matching up at 92 percent. Not to mention some of his recent highlight plays.

So it appears that the Tigers might have a legitimate major leaguer on their hands with Victor Reyes. If he continues to maintain his progress, he could very well be a useful piece in the future of this franchise.

Tigers outside of the playoffs looking in

Thanks in part to the rise of Reyes, the Tigers find themselves in the conversation for the expanded 16-team playoffs this season. If the season ended on Friday before any of the games were played, Detroit would just miss the postseason, sitting in ninth place two games back of the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays, who both currently carry records of 20-16.

However, this expanded playoff format has a few wrinkles, including the seeding system set up for each of the eight teams that qualify. The division winners earn the first three seeds in order of their records; the second-place finishers receive the next three seeds in order of their records; the final two seeds are given to true wild-card teams based on their records, regardless of division.

Nuances aside, Tigers fans just want to see some postseason action from their beloved club, regardless of how the brackets are set up. Be sure to keep an eye on the Blue Jays, who currently are Detroit’s biggest rival for a playoff spot.

Gardenhire reminisces on Seaver

Iconic Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver passed away on Monday from complications of Lewy body dementia and COVID-19 at the age of 75, leaving a massive void in the baseball world behind him. Tiger manager Ron Gardenhire — 13 years Seaver’s junior — was fortunate enough to briefly share a dugout with the famed fireballer with the New York Mets in 1983 as an infielder for 17 games that season. While he had merely a short cup of coffee in the Big Apple, Seaver made quite an impression on young Gardy.

“I had the opportunity, the lucky opportunity, to actually be on the baseball field when he pitched, for a very short time. I ended up getting sent down that year. But class act, great guy. And, obviously, a great pitcher.”

Gardenhire got to watch an epic battle between Seaver and Philadelphia Phillies starter and another eventual Hall of Famer Steve Carlton on Opening Day that season, with the former firing six scoreless innings with three hits, one walk and five strikeouts. However, it was the reaction of 46,000-plus fans to Seaver’s return to New York that impressed him even more than the results on the diamond: he knew he was watching a living legend.

Well that’s a little different

Around the horn

The greatest Mets player of all-time, late Tom Seaver was terrific on and off mound. The Dodgers might be kings of the NL, but their closest competition the Padres aren’t far. Inside Yu Darvish’s return to elite status as the Chicago Cubs’ ace. Why it’s time for Major League Baseball to ban the shift. What brought the Yankees and the Rays to such a high-tension game on Tuesday? A renewed interest in the art of the curve has led Caleb “Meat Raffle” Thielbar back to a major-league roster. How Chadwick Boseman went from baseball novice to channeling Jackie Robinson.

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