By: Holly Horning
For most of the year, we’ve wondered what kind of a team the Tigers actually are. Rollercoaster performances that would take the team near the top but then drop them back down in the next breath. An offensive juggernaut at times and then periods of time where runs couldn’t even be bought. Pitching that struggled and then became a force.
And in keeping with the pattern, the Tigers have alternated patterns of solid and questionable performance every month. Should we be surprised that their best month, July, has been followed by a month (so far) of drops in the stats that count?
Only with the sweep against the Twins, have the Tigers managed to reach .500 for the first time this month. Yes, a win is a win and we’ll gladly accept each and every one. However, we must temper our analysis that the sweep was against the second worst team in MLB and the team at the bottom of most pitching categories. Add to this the common thought that the Tigers were expected to do better and gain ground this month because their schedule was much easier.
Ironically, in this month of great and unexpected pitching performances, it’s the offense that has gone down the dumper. The same offense that baffles the professional analysts who all wonder why one of the best lineups in MLB has such a hard and inconsistent time scoring runs. In the previous 4 months of play, the Tigers have averaged between 4 and 8 games in which they scored 2 runs or less. Then consider that in just the first 20 games in August, 10 of them – half of them – garnered the same lack of run production.
Sure, there have been injuries. Maybin and Castellanos were key bats lost. But also consider that the Tigers had their best month offensively in July, without JD in the lineup.
Has it just been the loss of Castellanos and a partial loss of Maybin that created this pattern? Even with Upton now producing, the team has still struggled. All contributors to the problem, but they don’t explain all of it.
If you are a regular reader, you know that I compile certain stats for each month. And for August, there are some noticeable differences in certain areas of performance. Let’s take a look and see what else stands out as contributing factors to the difficulties in scoring runs for this month so far.
SITUATIONAL HITTING – Most of the games won have been due almost solely to the HR. Stringing together hits has been the rare exception. The Tigers RISP and LOB have also been noticeably higher.
MIGGY – His individual stats have been solid, but he has been anything but clutch, hitting just .133 with the bases loaded. The pattern seen is that he becomes less and less able to score teammates with each new runner on board and the number of increased outs.
BASERUNNING – Not that they were ever decent, but the running game has, for all intents and purposes, pretty much been forgotten. A handful of steals but they have lost dozens of bases due to bad baserunning, coaching and instinct. Dead last in both leagues.
GIDP – Just through the first half of August, the Tigers have surpassed all their monthly totals for grounding into double plays. The highest total was 26 for an entire month and through just a little over half of August, they have already hit into 29 of them.
Can the Tigers recover some of their lost ground in August? Courtesy of the Twins, they’ve gained a little in the standings and 1 less game out of the WC race.
Will the pattern of alternating monthly performances continue into September? And will it be enough?
For a month that was touted as being easier and a distinct advantage, the Tigers have really not taken advantage of it very well.