Detroit Tigers offense failing on all levels through first 11 games

Tigers have scored 2 runs in last 4 games

Jose Iglesias is one of the Tigers struggling most at the plate to start 2018. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

DETROIT – It's still early in the 2018 Major League Baseball season, but we can already seen trends starting to form across the league.

The Astros' pitching staff is ridiculously good. The Angels have a ton of power. The Tigers' offense is very, very bad.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that the Tigers are struggling to score runs, but few people predicted the first 11 games to be so disastrous offensively. The Tigers have scored zero runs or one run in six of 11 games, including four in a row.

And it's not like the Tigers just aren't getting timely hits. They're not getting hits at all, and when they do, it's been mostly singles.

Power outage

What do Bryce Harper, Eric Thames, Matt Davidson, Brian Dozier, Mike Trout, Ozzie Albies, Javier Baez, Matt Chapman and Charlie Blackmon have in common? They've all hit more home runs than the entire Detroit Tigers team this season.

The Tigers rank last in MLB with three measly home runs -- one each from Miguel Cabrera, Niko Goodrum and Leonys Martin. Of the 30 MLB teams, 25 have at least three times as many homers as the Tigers, and nine teams have five times as many homers.

One thing the Tigers have done well is hit doubles -- ranking seventh in MLB with 23 two-baggers -- but in an era with so much power, it's difficult to survive without hitting it over the wall.

Despite the doubles proficiency, the Tigers rank 28th in baseball with a .305 slugging percentage. The only player on the roster with a slugging percentage over .400 is Nicholas Castellanos, who's slugging .409 thanks to a team-leading 12 hits.

On-base trouble

Even more troubling than the Tigers' inability to hit for power is the team's paltry on-base percentage.

Other than a few players in the heart of the lineup, Ron Gardenhire's team is vastly underperforming in terms of OBP. Castellanos, Martin and Victor Martinez are all in the .350 range for OBP, but the rest of the regular starters are below .330.

Cabrera, Machado, James McCann and Jose Iglesias are the real culprits, all reaching base fewer than 30 percent of the time.

Only two teams rank below the Tigers' .290 OPB -- the San Francisco Giants and Cleveland Indians -- but both have double-digit home runs to help make up the difference.

Worst offenders

The bottom of the lineup isn't expected to carry an offense, but those hitters shouldn't be automatic outs as they have been for the Tigers.

McCann, Iglesias and Mikie Mahtook have been borderline unplayable this season because of their offensive struggles, but Gardenhire has nowhere else to turn, so their slumps have continued to plague the offense.

Iglesias is two for 32 so far this season with three walks and eight strikeouts. His .063 batting average is overshadowed by his .094 slugging percentage, and he's only gotten on base one of every six plate appearances.

He's an excellent defender at shortstop, but Iglesias has to hit more than this.

McCann is coming off a solid season offensively, as he posted a .733 OPS with 13 home runs in 106 games. But the first 11 games of 2018 have been much more difficult.

McCann is batting just .147 with five hits, three walks and six strikeouts. He's got an OPS of .413, which is lower than his second-half slugging percentage from last season.

Mahtook's struggles have been enough for a demotion, as Gardenhire announced he will be sent to Triple-A Toledo. After a very strong offensive showing in 2017, Mahtook is four for 31 this year with 10 strikeouts and three walks.

The Tigers have gotten the worst production in MLB out of the No. 8 hole (.259 OPS), the third-worst out of the No. 7 hole (.310 OPS) and the sixth-worst production out of the No. 6 hole (.446 OPS).

Looking ahead

An average OPS for a player is around .710, and the Tigers only have two regular players above that mark. On the other hand, three players have an OPS below .600, which is awful.

As a team, the Tigers' OPS is .595, which puts them in a position of rare offensive futility. Only the Indians have a lower team OPS, and they've won three straight against the Tigers, outscoring them 9-2.

Can it get any worse? Probably not, as Cabrera, McCann and Martinez have proven in the past that they're much better offensive players. It's also worth noting that offense typically picks up when the weather improves.

But with so many players slumping at the same time, it's been an ugly start to the season for the Tigers offense. They aren't this bad, but they aren't very good, either.


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