By: Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning
This Tuesday is all about surprises. With such an up and down season, it’s difficult to stray from the frustrations we are experiencing.
But let’s talk surprises, good and bad, about the Tigers so far this year. Will the answers to the questions surprise you? Let’s find out.
Who or what has been this year’s biggest and most pleasant surprise so far?
Without question, without hesitation, there is really only one answer to this question. I felt that Jose Iglesias would be one of the Tigers most important players. His good health would mean everything. And except for a couple of bumps and bruises, he has been fairly healthy and is the fixture at short we had hoped.
The defense, even though we knew the kind of talent he had, still is jaw dropping each and every game. But the offense is maybe the biggest surprise. I was never concerned about his hitting. I thought he would hit enough. But hit .300? Still in June? Come on Iggy, are you for real?
We suffered enough with 4 different shortstops last year so getting Iggy back this year was almost worth having to wait. We had that small taste of him playing 46 games for the Tigers in 2013 and as we found out, some of it in pain. The stats we had were very promising, although many presumed them not to be true because of the small sample size.
Yet, he comes back after a year away, shows no ill results from the shin fractures, picks up where he left off and even delivers figures beyond expectations. A .330 BA and an OPS of .775 with few strikeouts. And he battles at the plate, unlike most of the team. Can’t say enough about how much that bat and discipline are needed.
Oh, yeah, and the glove. What is there to say about his daily shows that appear as if they came out of a Cirque du Soleil performance? Who was the last Tiger to flash glove leather like that?
Who or what has been this year’s biggest and least pleasant surprise so far?
Sorry, the issue of the week has overwhelmed me. And the biggest concern, at least for us on this forum, was the decision by Illitch and Dombrowski to bring back Ausmus after last season’s playoff disaster. It was a red flag. And we were concerned about how things would evolve under Brad.
The most unpleasant surprise from day one was the decision by Tigers ownership and management to sit back and watch their team, one they have invested so much in, managed by someone who is, quite frankly, making them look bad.
They have to act on this. The Price situation the other night is a black eye that may not heal. It made a mockery of this team and I won’t sit back and act like this isn’t a dam that is about to break. I hope the Tigers don’t let this season get away from them. The team is too good and frankly deserves someone with experience to make the difference for them.
It would be easy to say Nick Castellanos has disappointed greatly but he is one person and I’ve gotta go with something more insidious and impacting the win-loss column almost on a daily basis. And that is the inability to score with runners on 2nd and 3rd base.
How is it that the Tigers have consistently been within the top five offensive categories yet have had a devil of a time scoring runs? While they are no longer the worst team in this stat, they have consistently been near the bottom, leaving 3.5 runs on the bases per game.
Yes, some of this figure is due to their ability to get more runners on base than other teams. But their ranking indicates they are one of the least successful teams in MLB when it comes to implementation. And that’s what counts.
Couple that with a league-leading number of games in which they’ve scored 2 or fewer runs. So far, 31 games out of 76 games played. That’s 41%! Imagine where they would be in the division race if they were able to better convert those stranded runners into runs.