DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers fell to 20 games below .500 after another miserable, winless weekend, and now, they’ve recaptured their all-too-familiar spot at the bottom of the AL Central.
If fans were hoping the All-Star break would give the Tigers a chance to regroup and come out playing more competitive baseball, they were sorely disappointed this weekend against the Twins. The Tigers treated fans at Comerica Park to a pair of blowout losses -- 8-4 on Saturday and 9-1 on Sunday.
Sunday’s loss dropped the Tigers below the Kansas City Royals, and they’re now twice as close (6.5 games) to the worst record in baseball as they are to the division lead (14 games back).
With a stretch of 24 straight games against playoff contenders beginning Monday, we might even look back fondly on this 38-58 record. It could, and almost certainly will, get even worse from here.
We’ve established again and again and again and again that this year’s performance from the Tigers is unacceptable. Even Joel Zumaya came out of nowhere and shredded the Tigers for the way this season has played out.
Remember this offseason, after years of preaching patience, when the Tigers’ brass insisted that the long rebuild was finally over? How, then, could owner Chris Ilitch speak up earlier this month and declare himself “very pleased” with yet another hapless, noncompetitive summer?
Injuries are at least somewhat to blame for this abomination -- the Tigers have faced more starting pitching adversity than any other team in MLB.
But the hitting staff shouldn’t be allowed to hide surreptitiously behind that excuse. The Tigers have scored 29 fewer runs than the second-worse offense in the league, and 21 teams have scored at least 100 more runs than Detroit.
It’s one thing for first-time major leaguers such as Spencer Torkelson and Kody Clemens to come up and struggle. It’s another for established hitters like Jeimer Candelario, Jonathan Schoop, Robbie Grossman, and Javier Baez to all experience simultaneous career-worst seasons.
The Tigers have a team OPS of .615. Six-one-five. Remember how fed up everyone was with Niko Goodrum? His OPS was .651 last year. Heck, four National League pitchers finished with an OPS higher than this Tigers team in 2021. (While we’re on the topic of pitchers, maybe the Tigers shouldn’t be allowed to hit anymore, either.)
Detroit has 54 home runs -- 20 fewer than the next-worst team in MLB. The Oakland Athletics, who traded away all their good hitters and play in the stadium equivalent of the Grand Canyon, have hit 78 homers.
Isaac Paredes, who the Tigers shipped out before Opening Day because he never showed any power at the MLB level, has hit 13 home runs in 53 games for the Tampa Bay Rays. The Tigers don’t have a single player with double-digit homers as they near the 100-game mark.
The team went weeks without hearing from Eduardo Rodriguez, a player who signed for $77 million in the offseason. Austin Meadows somehow injured both Achilles tendons while not playing baseball due to vertigo. Matt Manning had a rehab setback because he apparently didn’t drink enough water.
Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong, but instead of brushing it off as a year of bad luck, maybe the Tigers should look in the mirror and take action after eight years of ineptitude.
If this type of performance doesn’t spark change, what will?
How can you continue to employ a hitting coach who has parlayed the best collection of hitters the team has fielded since 2016 into historically -- yes, *historically* -- awful offensive numbers?
Mike Hessman has plenty of admirers in Toledo, but how much positive impact can he really be having if his one calling card in the minors, power, happens to be the offense’s greatest weakness?
Maybe Scott Coolbaugh and Hessman will be dumped at the end of the season. But if the team being out of contention is the reason those two are still being allowed to coach Torkelson, Riley Greene, and Clemens the rest of the summer, isn’t that situation alone enough to warrant change?
It feels like I’m rearranging words and writing the same story every time the Tigers reach a new disgraceful milestone, but until we see any sign that ownership finds this type of consistent failure unacceptable, what else is there to say?
The Tigers are a dumpster fire, and right now, there aren’t many signs that the future will be brighter. That’s not good enough for the fans, and at some point, it shouldn’t be for the people who matter, either.