Breaking down Detroit Tigers’ season so far


Robert Butterson, General Assignment Reporter

As the Detroit Tigers enter the second half of their season, they ended the first half a lot better than they started it, producing an even .500 record (32-32) since the start of May. During the first month of games in April however, the Tigers posted a league worst 8-19 record, setting them back early in their quest for an aging playoff appearance.

Detroit sent off one of its own to represent the team in this year’s All-Star game, held at Coors Field in Colorado. Closer Gregory Soto was selected as the Tigers’ lone all-star, and gave up one run in one inning during the midsummer classic. On the season, he leads the team with seven saves in seven attempts while posting a 3.00 earned run average in 35 and two-thirds innings pitched with 43 strikeouts. Soto has been a part of the Detroit Tigers organization since 2012, when he signed as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic.

Although Soto has been a bright spot for the bullpen, the Tigers’ never-ending bullpen struggles are still looming, as they currently have the highest bullpen ERA in the American League at 5.41, second worst in the MLB. This doesn’t pair well with a very young pitching staff that has already placed six pitchers on the injured list and implements various pitch count limitations on young starters such as Casey Mize.  

Mize could be considered Detroit’s ‘ace’, as he leads the team in WAR with 2.8 and innings pitched with 95 and one-third. However, he is rapidly approaching the most innings he has pitched in any season, college or professionally. That number is currently 114 innings during his senior year of college at Auburn. 

A big contributing factor leading to more wins has been the emergence of young players such as electrifying center fielder Akil Baddoo and the consistency of more experienced players such as Jonathan Schoop. Schoop leads the Tigers in every triple crown category, with a .277 batting average, 16 home runs and 52 runs batted in. Meanwhile, Baddoo leads the team with an .823 OPS (on base plus slugging percentage), and has stolen the most bases with 13.  

Although the Tigers’ offense features lots of young and interchangeable pieces, the group has improved their batting average every month since the start of this season. In fact, the Tigers finished the last two weeks of the first half hitting .266 as a team, the second best average in the American League. Perhaps it took manager AJ Hinch some time to create the most effective lineup, as the Tigers have manufactured many runs in the past 30 days, ranking ninth in total runs scored, seventh in walks and fourth in stolen bases.  

Future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera turned around a dreadful start, as he hit .184 through the end of May, but has since hit .324, a much more familiar average associated with his name. Cabrera needs 73 more hits and 6 more home runs to record his historic 3,000th hit and 500th home run, something only six players in the history of baseball have done before. In the first half of this season, Cabrera logged 61 hits and seven home runs.  

Just before the break, the Tigers were swept by the last place Minnesota Twins, shortly after winning or splitting the previous four series, which included seven games against division leaders in the Astros and White Sox. 

Going forward with the season is going to be more of the same; manufacturing runs with help from veterans and young players on a consistent basis. Unless someone emerges as a standout offensive presence, the Tigers’ offense will largely remain a group effort. 

The young pitching staff has immense potential, but they currently have the least amount of strikeouts in the American League with 722 and also give up more base runners than most teams, with a 1.39 WHIP that is the second worst in the American League.

With a series rematch against the Twins awaiting after the All-Star break, the Tigers will look to shift the course of their season to reach that .500 overall record, as they currently sit 40-51. Pitchers Michael Fulmer and Matthew Boyd could both return to the Tigers soon, which should provide huge support in limiting opposing offenses and reducing the workload on younger pitchers.