The Detroit Tigers will be returning to Comerica Park in Detroit on Tuesday from a brutal nine game road trip that lasted 10 days. Although they almost broke even on the West Coast trip, going 4-5, the Tigers had a rough time hitting the ball. Here’s a warning to anyone reading this: Some of the statistics might make you vomit.
Even with the low, but still somewhat respectable .238 batting average over the nine game stretch, the Tigers managed to be outscored by two runs. It would be easy to point out the players that individually deserve the blame, one of them being Prince Fielder who struck out eight consecutive times, but looking at the team statistics I think there is plenty of blame to go around.
Often times you will hear me go off about leaving runners on base, and over the last week I think I almost lost my voice. Over the nine games the Tigers left 79 runners on the base — that’s just too many if you plan on playing winning baseball. Mind you, the Tigers are not, with a record of just 9-9 so far.
It’s stating the obvious but it’s worth saying that you cannot be successful when you leave ducks on the pond, and leave them on second or third base at that. I’ve touched on the “runners in scoring position” problem before. I think it’s one of the most important stats you can look at, and the Tigers thought that the problem would be solved with Victor Martinez, but it wasn’t, at least so far.
With runners in scoring position Detroit managed to get a hit just 14 times in 84 chances in the last 10 days, working out to a phenomenal average of .166. I hope you can see my sarcasm.
When you talk about the best teams in Major League Baseball you talk often about the “Clutch Factor”. It comes down to who can bring in the runs when they matter the most, and so far this season the Tigers have had a hard time doing that.
The last three series have been against the Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners, and the Los Angeles Angels, two of the three thought to be contenders for the American League West crown this year. So it wasn’t like the Tigers had a stretch of opponents that they should have just rolled over, but at the same time these are the kinds of teams that Detroit will be potentially facing if they plan on winning the American League pennant.
I get that it’s really early in the year, but it’s about time that teams start to find their form and start going on some winning streaks. The Tigers had a hard time doing that last year even though they rarely ever lost several in a row either. This year, if they want to make a strong run at another World Series appearance they better get a few streaks going and start hitting better in the crucial situations.