With all the changes that happened around the Detroit Tigers over the past offseason, there was one crucial one that went completely under the radar. New manager Brad Ausmus decided not to hold onto Jim Leyland‘s third base coach, Tom Brookens in favor of Dave Clark. It might not sound like a big deal, but Brookens cost the Tigers a handful of runs in 2013 with careless decisions and a lack of adequate preparation.
The Tigers’ offensive strategy last season didn’t include much in the way of baserunning aggressiveness, but Brookens loved the thought of booking another run so much he would tend to twirl his arm around without considering the consequences. Brookens thought it pertinent to challenge Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon on multiple occasions in 2013 when anyone who watches the AL Central know he’s one of few guys in the division you shouldn’t get cheeky with.
Brookens also had a tendency to overestimate the swiftness of some of the Tigers’ less nimble hitters. His careless lack of attention put players like Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez at a higher risk of injury. He thought backup catcher Brayan Pena would have enough gas to score a run from first base against the Boston Red Sox in a crucial September game, possibly having forgotten that they were at Fenway Park rather than Comerica.
Brookens was a beacon of false hope. The Tigers’ plan was not to run themselves into outs, but he had other plans.
Clark has already shown the ability to prepare for his job, which is a major upgrade. He disregards the coaching box in order to get in a better position to see the play. He has shown restraint when he’s needed to, but knows when the right time to be aggressive is.
It might not sound like a big deal, but when you ask an opinionated Tigers fan, it is. Clark won’t get every decision right, but at least he’ll have some conviction when he makes them.
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