Detroit Tigers: Midseason Report Card

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The Detroit Tigers have three of the top six hitters in the American League. Miguel Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta, and Victor Martinez all have batting averages between .310 and .320. This may seem low to hold those positions in the junior circuit, but offensive numbers have been down this season across both leagues. The surprising aspect to this analysis of the statistics is that none of these players is among the leaders in home runs or runs batted in.

Ace righthander Justin Verlander has been the true headliner during the first half for the Tigers. His eleven victories are tied for third in the major leagues and he is tied for second in strikeouts with Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies (138). Closer Jose Valverde has accumulated twenty-three saves, but that number is somewhat misleading because smoke and mirrors are part of his repertoire. His walks and hits per innings pitched aren’t even among the leaders on his own team. It is a similar case of deceiving numbers with starter Rick Porcello. He does have eight victories, but his earned run average is awfully close to five. Manager Jim Leyland would also like to see reliever Phil Coke join the rotation on a full time basis. His high walk total is a serious concern. A ratio of two to one is usually a goal for pitchers at the highest level, while his is one to one. The free passes have obviously been his undoing because the lefthander does have quality pitches. Once he tweaks his mechanics, success will be in his future.

Third baseman Brandon Inge has been a stalwart on the corner of the infield for years. This team leader is suffering below the Mendoza line. Leyland must appreciate his tremendous hands and cannon on the defensive side because he is seriously hurting the club offensively. Second baseman Ryan Raburn has also struggled in the batting average department. His competition at the position was traded away earlier in the season, but this transaction hasn’t paved the way for increased production like management had hoped. Lastly, the low average of Austin Jackson has hindered the team’s ability to score runs and made the line-up more of station to station probability. I had previously mentioned that none of the batters were among the league leaders in home runs or runs batted in. The limited production out of Jackson is the primary reason. He is not setting the table for the meat of the order on a consistent basis.

Over the break it is time for the coaching staff to chart the course for the remainder of the schedule. It is a curse that catcher Alex Avila will start the All Star Game for the American League. A reserve roster spot would have provided more rest and less of a chance for an injury. Conversely, it’s not like there is going to be a Buster Posey type of situation at the plate and the coaches will make sure that multiple players get behind the plate to avoid fatigue.

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