clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Half time report: Detroit Tigers lineup is historically bad. Grade F

Tigers have failed to generate offense, with problems in the lineup from top to bottom

Toronto Blue Jays v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

As the Detroit Tigers find themselves out of contention, in fourth place in their division at the all star break, their biggest issue has been a lineup that has failed to score runs. The Tigers have scored just 288 runs through the first half of the season, which is last in the major leagues. At this rate, through 92 games, the team is on pace to score 507 runs for the season, or just 3.13 runs per game. That would be the lowest average since 1904, when they scored 505 runs during the dead ball era.

  • The Tigers are last in home runs with just 53. The second worst team has 68.
  • They’re 27th of 30 teams in batting average, hitting just .229
  • The team is 29th in on base percentage and slugging percentage, and they’re 29th in weighted on base average.
  • The team is also 29th in walks, and have the 9th highest strikeout total in the majors.
  • They have a fWAR of -0.6 which means they are the only team in the major leagues that is below replacement level.

The problem is not at just at one or two positions. The lineup is bad across the board.

Detroit Tigers MLB rank by position

Position Tigers wRC+ MLB Rank
Position Tigers wRC+ MLB Rank
Catcher 75 18
First Base 70 30
Second Base 58 30
Third Base 81 25
Shortstop 87 19
Left Field 76 27
Center Field 74 23
Right Field 87 30
Designated Hitter 90 22

Weighted runs created (wRC+) shows the value of each plate appearance on a scale of 100 being league average. It is roughly the same as weighted on base average (wOBA).

Detroit ranks dead last at three positions and among the bottom five offensively at catcher, first base, second base, shortstop, third base, and left field. They’re in the bottom half at every position offensively, including designated hitter.

Looking at all major league hitters with at least 250 plate appearances, five Tigers rank in the worst 18 hitters in MLB, measured by weighted on base average or weighted runs created. Jonathan Schoop, Jeimer Candelario, Javier Báez, Spencer Torkelson and Robbie Grossman are all stinking it up at the plate, and they’re all every day starting players.

In fact none of the Tigers rank in the top 150 hitters in the major leagues, with Miguel Cabrera ranking 156th with a wOBA of .294. Every Tiger in the lineup is hitting below league average. All of them.

One could point to the drop in production across the board from players who put up much better numbers in 2021. Grossman, Candelario, and Haase were all above 100 wRC+ for the season last year, but the other Tigers were still below league average. It’s just a matter of how far below versus this year’s production.

Detroit Tigers Lineup: 2022-2021-Career production

Tiger 2022 wRC+ 2021 wRC+ Career wRC+
Tiger 2022 wRC+ 2021 wRC+ Career wRC+
Grossman 75 114 103
Baez 74 116 101
Schoop 56 105 96
Cabrera 90 92 141
Candelario 63 119 98
Meadows 100 113 120
Barnhart 48 81 80
Baddoo 14 108 96

Detroit’s lineup has under performed both their 2021 numbers and their career numbers across the board. In many cases, the difference is huge. In the cases of Báez, Schoop and Grossman, last season was one where they over performed their career numbers, where they are close to league average hitters. Austin Meadows is right on league average production, but injuries have limited him to under 150 plate appearances, and he has yet to hit a home run as a Tiger.

Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene were promoted with great expectations, but Torkelson in particular has been over matched in his rookie season and has been optioned to triple A Toledo. Even if both players live up to their lofty expectations, and even if the veterans return to form at their career level of production, the lineup is far short of having enough quality bats to approach the run production needed for a contender.

With the lack of offensive promise in the upper levels of the minor leagues, this isn’t a problem that will be solved by prospects being promoted. The Tigers will need to find alternatives from outside the organization to replace the veterans who are failing at the plate this season. The lineup is completely devoid of any genuine middle of the order hitters.

There is just no pleasant way to put this. The Tigers lineup is the worst in the major leagues. They have failed to score runs with any consistency, giving them a failing grade of F for the first half of the season.


Insert disclaimer here about using defensive metrics with small samples. As a team, where we have the largest sample size, the Tigers rank 18th with plus 7 defensive runs saved (DRS), but 26th in Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) at -10.2 runs.

Both metrics indicate Jonathan Schoop is having a stellar season defensively, while Harold Castro is a liability in the field. Statcast shows Schoop is 21 outs above average in just half a season. He leads all major league players at any position. Harold is 10 runs below average, which is third worst in MLB. All other Tigers are within 3 outs of league average fielding. Willi Castro has gone from a huge negative in the infield to a slight positive in the outfield.

Most importantly, the gigantic hole at shortstop has been plugged by Báez and the eye test tells us that center field is in good hands with Riley Greene. We’ll give the Tigers’ defense a C as they are about average. Schoop is having a gold glove caliber season.

Overall, the Tigers’ defense isn’t the problem. They have plugged the holes that needed to be plugged as long as they are not relying on Harold Castro too frequently. Maybe he won’t be as much of a liability at first base. The lack of any hitters who can produce above major league average is a huge problem. That’s on the front office.

Related Articles:

  • Tigers’ bullpen gets an A grade
  • Detroit rotation is below average, Grade D plus