When Scott Harris joined the club he famously stated that he wanted to control the strike zone on both sides of the ball.
Scott Harris' three tenants for the Tigers going forward:
1. Acquire, develop and retain young players
2. Create a culture of development. Players should think they can come to DET and get better
3. Controlling the strike zone on both sides is key to everything.
This seemed like a tall task given the poor plate discipline the Tigers have shown for what seemed like years. Like most new directives, things like this usually take years to implement across an organization and results can be way down the road.
However, I am pleasantly surprised the Tigers are taking this to heart.
Last year the Tigers finished dead last in walks (batters) with 380. To put that in perspective, the Yankees finished with 620. That's an average of 1.5 more walks per game than the Tigers.
This year, through 55 games they are ranked 10th the the league with 186 walks, which is on a pace for 548. If that pace holds, they will have walked an additional 178 times over the season. They are still struggling with making contact, given their .229 team average, but the improvement in walks is pretty remarkable.
In looking at the minor leagues, their Top 30 prospects include 17 hitters, of which 14 have a walk rate above 9%
Cristian Santana: 19.5%
Justyn Henry-Malloy: 17.6%
Gage Workman 15.7%
Jace Jung: 15.6%
Dillon Dingler: 13.9%
Payton Graham: 13.4%
Wenceel Perez: 12%
Parker Meadows: 11.5%
Andrew Lipcius: 11.1%
Roberto Campos: 10.7%
Colt Keith: 9.6%
Izaac Pacheco: 9.6%
Danny Serretti: 9.1%
Luke Gold: 9.1%
It looks like those who are running the minor leagues took the directive to heart. I would assume Scott Harris' newly formed scouting department would be identifying players who have shown good plate discipline as well.
This is one way the Tigers can turn this thing around, and I like where it looks like it's heading.