On Tuesday, USA Today released their annual win predictions for the 2020 Major League Baseball season, and somewhat predictably, the Tigers were projected to be the worst team in baseball with a 54-108 record. After losing 114 games in 2019, largely thanks to one of the worst offenses in the history of baseball, the idea that Detroit will be awful is a pretty safe take.
A bright spot (Photo by Alexandra Simon)
However, historically bad teams are hard to actually build. Last year was largely the result of a perfect storm of horrible: regression by Miguel Cabrera, Josh Harrison, and Jeimer Candelario; injury issues on the part of Jordy Mercer, JaCoby Jones, Tyson Ross, Matt Moore, and Michael Fulmer; and historically bad performances by rookies like Grayson Greiner and Christin Stewart.
Two good things happened to the Tigers at the major league level last year, and their names were Matthew Boyd and Niko Goodrum.
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It’s that time of year again, the offseason, a time where we all go crazy and get mad at the Tigers for not doing what we all think is the best move, particularly pertaining to the Rule 5 draft. Happens every year, we see former top prospects that pop up as eligible and we immediately clamor for them with partial belief that while they’ve lost some sheen, the majority of what made them top prospects remain. Riley Ferrell did it to me last year and the Tigers took Reed Garrett. I was a giant fan of Ferrell out of college. Big, tall righty with a high 90’s fastball and plus hammer. Turns out, Riley and the strikezone were mortal enemies and that trend continued with the Marlins as their R5 pick until they returned him back to Houston.
Point being, corndogs. Corndogs before, corndogs now, corndogs forever.
I won’t sugarcoat it. Baseball wasn’t much fun for the Tigers or
their fans in 2019. This season featured one of Detroit’s worst teams in the history of the franchise, and easily
the worst team since the dreaded 2003 season. It was ugly, frustrating and
seemed at times the end was nowhere in sight. Thankfully, it’s finally over. Fans
can enjoy the postseason with no additional stress. Finishing with the worst
record in baseball at 47-114, the Tigers secured the #1 overall pick for the
second time in three years and are poised to significantly upgrade an already
rising farm system. Competitive baseball is likely a few years away, but that
doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom. Let’s dive into what the Tigers can look
forward to in 2020 and beyond.
At some point, someone here at Glass Half Fulmer will pen an elegy for the 2019 season. I’m pretty sure readers can predict the major beats of that story: the farm got better, the major league club was abysmal, the future will probably be better. You’re going to read that piece in varying degrees a lot this offseason.
I’m not here to write that piece. I’m here to focus on something that Tigers fans seem to know but also tend to overlook in favor of focusing on the farm system and player development.
It’s time for Chris Ililch to spend money. Continue reading
One of the side effects of spending way too much time on Twitter is that you find some interesting questions about baseball to write about. Today’s comes from Jerry Mackinnem, who asked a good question about valuing trade chips at the deadline. Normally for big trades, good analysis would use future projections of WAR/$ (essentially, valuing players at the going rate of $9 million per WAR they expect to put up) and compare that to prospect valuations to try to work out fair trade value. The wrinkle that Jerry adds is an interesting one: how do you value a low WAR player at the trade deadline? Obviously someone like Shane Greene isn’t going to post gigantic WAR totals, but he’s a coveted trade chip. Can we do the math to figure out what he’s actually worth?
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The Detroit Tigers dropped a 6-3 decision to the Cleveland Indians on Thursday, continuing Cleveland’s run of dominance with another sweep.
- Matthew Boyd was good, mostly, but a fastball that leaked over the plate resulted in a two-run home run for Jose Ramirez. He’s been having very bad luck with home runs lately, which is probably coming at the wrong time for his trade value.
- As an aside, the rest of the AL Central, particularly the Minnesota Twins, can thank the Tigers for waking Jose Ramirez up. You’re welcome.
- Another defensive miscommunication resulted in a dropped popup in the ninth and the sixth Cleveland run. This team should thoroughly eviscerate Ron Gardenhire’s reputation as a manager of fundamentally sound teams.
- Harold Castro had a nice little series, hitting a two-run homer that briefly looked like it would be decisive.
- There’s not a lot to say at this point other than Cleveland is a substantially more talented team that play better on the field and make fewer mental mistakes. The Tigers are going to be at a talent disadvantage against the majority of teams they face. They do not have to be at a mental disadvantage, but they often are anyway. It’s the worst combination to watch.
The Tigers are on pace to lose 111 games. They will play again Friday night as they return to Detroit to open a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays, with Jordan Zimmermann on the mound.
The Tigers lost again on Wednesday, which is not a surprise. They struck out 17 times as a team in a 7-2 road loss to the Cleveland Indians.
- The way Cleveland scored their third run is, perhaps, a perfect microcosm of this team. With a runner at second and two out, Cleveland’s Mike Freeman tried to bunt for a hit to bring in what was a huge third run, with the Indians up just 2-1 at that point. It worked, mostly because the Tigers are a fundamentally inept baseball team. The first baseman, Brandon Dixon, charged in to field the bunt. The pitcher, Nick Ramirez, didn’t seem to expect to have to cover first until it was too late to beat Freeman to the bag. Dixon spent that time staring at Ramirez instead of second baseman Gordon Beckham, who was on his way to cover the bag. Dixon didn’t notice until it was too late, Freeman won the race and Cleveland scored the third run. Combining a lack of talent with a lack of fundamentals leads to plays like that.
- Joe Jimenez has nothing to get hitters out, is not a Major League pitcher at this point, and is rapidly hurtling toward Bruce Rondon future-closer-that-never-was territory.
- Mike Clevinger is actually good. Combining his stuff tonight with this lineup and its approach was just going to end in tears.
- Nicholas Castellanos was the only Tiger with more than one hit — two, in fact, one a home run. He still seems unlikely to command much in the trade market given his defensive limitations, but he could help someone, and he’s not hurting himself right now.
- Spencer Turnbull was solid. The efficiency problems linger, but he got quicker outs — and a bit of luck with a line drive double play. I’m not sure he’ll ever be a reliable pitcher on a good team, but he’s definitely a Major Leaguer with something to work with.
The Tigers are on pace to lose 110 games. They will play again Thursday night in the series finale in Cleveland, with Matthew Boyd on the mound.
Major League Baseball is about three weeks out from the trade deadline, and the Detroit Tigers, with one of the worst records in the league, have some assets to deal.
Will he stay or will he go? (Photo by Alexandra Simon)
Shane Greene, the All-Star closer, will almost assuredly be traded, while a team desperate enough for offense (like, say, the Cleveland Indians) might be willing to pay for Nicholas Castellanos.
But the real prize on the Tigers’ roster is Matthew Boyd, who has broken out to the tune of a 3.56 FIP/3.34 xFIP season. Boyd has been worth 2.8 fWAR in the first half, making him the fifteenth most valuable pitcher in baseball. However, given that Boyd is under team control through 2022, the price tag is sky-high. Complicating things is that the Tigers want an elite bat in any trade package, limiting the number of teams that have the ability to acquire the new Tigers ace.
Thanks to Chris Brown (via Twitter) we know that Boyd is worth roughly $65 million in surplus value. That’s enough to return one elite prospect, in the top 10 range, or a package including a top 25 prospect and a top 100 prospect, with maybe a throw-in or two. Given that the Tigers want an elite bat, though, not ever team is going to be able to pay the specific asking price they’re interested in. Let’s try to piece together what those trades might look like from every contending club. For this exercise, I’ll be using Fangraphs’ THE BOARD!, recently updated post-draft. I’ll toss in some scouting reports here and there, but this one’s gonna be long, so they’ll mostly be for key pieces.
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Guest post by Travis Leonardi
(All GIFs courtesy of @domhunt18 on twitter)
Stellar defense and a bright personality made JaCoby Jones a fan favorite in Detroit since his debut in 2016. He has shown flashes of the power-speed prospect that was advertised when the Tigers traded Joakim Soria to acquire him in 2015. However, Jones’ offensive production left much to be desired in his first few years as a professional. After leading MLB in defensive runs saved in 2018, Tigers GM Al Avila stated Jones could be a future All-Star if his hitting improved.
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Yesterday, the Detroit Tigers signed Cuban outfielder Roberto Campos for a reported $3 million bonus, the largest international bonus in club history. The $3 million bonus comes off of last year’s signings of outfielder Jose de la Cruz and shortstop Adisino Reyes, the #15 and #19 ranked prospects on MLB.com’s Top 30 International Prospects list for 2018-2019. Those signings were complemented by the $1 million bonus given to shortstop Alvaro Gonzalez in the 2017-2018 International Free Agent class.
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