By: Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder
Predictions. Prognostications. Projections. Pointless. Why do we bother? And why do they bother us?
Our writers take this one topic and provide their takes on the media’s perception of the Tigers and how the team will perform this season.
Why do you think the Tigers win projection is so low?
It’s interesting that there is a decided difference in assigning win totals between the media and those analysts who actually played the game. The latter are much more favorable towards the Tigers which I attribute to their deeper knowledge of the players acquired.
Yet, for the first time in many years, the Tigers aren’t forecast to take the Central. Could all the past years of success have spoiled us when it comes to expectations?
What I think is really going on is that these prognosticators are afraid of being too off the mark. If their theories are going to be wrong, they at least want to be in the neighborhood. It’s really more about their reputations than anything else.
This means they are basing their estimates upon the Tigers 2015 season in which they won 74 games. Twenty-one fewer than the Royals. And given that the Royals won the World Series, they are less likely to look closely at the changes made by both teams and even less likely to boldly predict significant changes.
Let’s face it – we tend to assign performance based upon the most recent examples. Even some of the most loyal fans don’t believe VMart will perform well again despite a consistent career of excellence.
And that’s what’s going on with the Tigers. They finished last in their division and were among the 10 worst teams in MLB last year. This is the primary reason why the media is not forecasting a larger number of wins for them.
Thirdly, many MLB analysts on both TV and radio have expressed concern over Brad Ausmus’ ability, especially given the parallel with the Nationals’ implosion last year with Matt Williams at the helm. There is a palpable lack of confidence in Brad as shown last week by a panel of 6 former All-Stars, managers and GMs who unanimously voted him as the manager most in danger.
But I think a fourth factor is the lingering concern over multiple all-star injuries and the pitching woes of last year.
Last year’s problems have turned into questions this year and taken most of the focus away from a number of significant changes and the addition of 9 new players.
As I explained in a previous blog,
I much prefer that the team doesn’t have that huge bulls-eye on its collective back this year. In October, I would much rather read about how the team performed beyond expectations, than how they fell short of the predictions.
The national media paints a broad stroke on every team mainly because they can’t possibly dig as deep as say …us. While in Detroit, locally, with only one team to follow, fans and the media are closer to what has been happening with the team.
Think of all the negative vibes that the Tigers were floating in at the end of last season. That’s where the media started from in evaluating the Tigers.
The Tigers ended the season 74-87, last in the Central. The media had to have thought, wow, what a drop off for a team coming off a 92 win season and 4 straight division titles.
But we know as fans that the season officially ended on July 31st. After being stripped of Price, Soria and Cespedes, the free fall was sure to begin and it did. Does the media take that into consideration when they analyze what the team has done to improve since then? Or do they simply take a last place team with 74 wins and determine that an 8 win improvement would be pretty substantial progress?
What’s even more baffling are the Tigers’ odds to win a title. Now since we are talking Vegas, it’s just money that has determined, in less than a week, the Tigers decline from 20-1 to 30-1 odds to win it all in 2016. There really is no other rhyme or reason. And I put just as much stock in Vegas odds as I do in projected wins. Neither is based on much detail. The Tigers may not win a title, but Mike Ilitch didn’t risk the luxury tax for a .500 team.
But to be fair, the Tigers have had a difficult time staying healthy over the years and it is likely raising eyebrows. National media must wait every season for the annual injury to Miggy or VMart or JV, the 3 biggest dominos on the club. They just don’t trust the Tigers.
And I believe that regardless of how calculated and impressive the makeover, the injury bug is something that stands out when it is time to evaluate how well they will do. Oh, and Brad.