DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers have given fans a taste of what this revamped lineup is capable of, but five games into the 2022 season, they’re still waiting for the bats to really warm up.
Eric Haase’s game-tying home run off Liam Hendriks on Opening Day injected an excitement into Comerica Park that this city hasn’t felt for years. On Monday, Javier Baez introduced himself to fans with a game-winning home run in the bottom of the eighth.
Fans are still buzzing about those two moments, but otherwise, the offense has been dormant.
The Tigers relinquished a 3-0 lead in Tuesday’s loss to the Boston Red Sox, failing to put a single run on the board after the third inning. It was the third time this season that the Tigers have only scored in one of nine offensive innings (all three losses -- no coincidence).
Newcomers Baez and Austin Meadows have quickly made themselves at home in Comerica Park, combining for 12 hits and four walks in 36 plate appearances.
Outside of those two, though, the Tigers are struggling.
Here’s how the rest of the Tigers’ regulars are looking so far:
- Robbie Grossman: 1-for-17 with two walks, seven strikeouts and a .259 OPS.
- Jeimer Candelario: 2-for-17 with three walks, two strikeouts and a .426 OPS.
- Miguel Cabrera: 4-for-17 with two walks, six strikeouts and a .594 OPS.
- Jonathan Schoop: 4-for-18 with no walks, two strikeouts and a .596 OPS.
- Akil Baddoo: 1-for-12 with no walks, five strikeouts and a .250 OPS.
- Spencer Torkelson: 1-for-13 with three walks, eight strikeouts and a .404 OPS.
- Tucker Barnhart: 1-for-8 with one walk, four strikeouts and a .347 OPS.
- Eric Haase: 1-for-10 with two walks, three strikeouts and a .650 OPS.
Altogether, that’s 15-for-112 (.134 average) with 13 walks and 37 strikeouts from seven starters and a primary reserve bat.
Harold Castro, Victor Reyes and Dustin Garneau are a combined 3-for-10 with one walk and two strikeouts.
Only two Tigers regulars -- Baez and Meadows -- own on-base percentages north of .300, which means the Tigers are letting opposing pitchers off the hook with too many easy innings. They’ve only scored in eight of 44 offensive innings so far.
Nobody should be sounding the alarm in April, especially not for proven hitters such as Grossman, Candelario and Schoop. But for an underdog hoping to compete for one of three American League wildcard spots this season, the Tigers can’t afford to dig themselves a hole early in the season. Their margin for error is thin.
Everyone remembers the 9-24 start from a year ago, and while it’s unlikely this team would fall into that deep of a rut, early season-games matter just as much as the ones in September.
The good news is that despite a .591 team OPS (25th in MLB), the Tigers have found a way to win two of five games, and they had a realistic chance in two of three losses. Their .195 team batting average can only go up, and a starter other than Baez will probably hit a home run at some point.
Detroit is tied for the second-fewest hits and home runs in the league. That’ll turn around eventually -- most of the lineup has 20-home-run power and the ability to hit above .250 -- but obviously, the sooner the better.