The Detroit Tigers finished the 2019 season with the MLB’s worst record of 47-114. Aside from the franchise’s 44-117 finish in 2003, which is also the second-worst record of the modern baseball era, the 2019 Tigers found the bottom of the barrel. It can’t get worse than this right?
The 2003 Detroit Tigers would learn from their mistakes and just three years later would find themselves in the Fall Classic, eventually getting swept by the St. Louis Cardinals. Those 2003 Tigers were young, with an average player age of 26.3.
Growing pains were inevitable, but is the same true for the current residents of Comerica Park?
The 2019 Tigers had a young core of players who, were they to be playing for any other organization, would probably still be honing their talents in the minors. Victor Reyes, Niko Goodrum, and Harold Castro, all of whom are below the age of 28, showed their potential at the plate. Both Castro and Goodrum hit the century mark for hits this season, something only two other Tigers did the entire season.
And yet, with all the talent they have in their farm system, the Tigers front office still decided to pad their roster with veteran players on short-term deals. Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison both came to Detroit in the offseason and failed to make a mark in the Motor City. Harrison was bitten by the injury bug and, before he could get his footing in Detroit, was granted an unconditional release. Mercer, on the other hand, struggled to stay healthy, and despite ending the year hitting .342 in August and .302 in September, finished the season at .270. Neither of them will be returning to the Motor City in 2020.
And possibly the toughest moment of the 2019 season was seeing former Tigers Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer win a World Series with the Washington Nationals. From the 2012 Detroit Tigers, the last Tigers team to play in the Fall Classic, to the 2014 Tigers, five starting pitchers have gone on to win World Series rings in the last three years. Rick Porcello and David Price won in Boston. Justin Verlander got his World Series ring with the Houston
Trash Cans Astros. And that brings us to Sanchez and Scherzer, who gleefully hugged each other while screaming “We won one.”
Back to the present…
The real promise for the Tigers lies within their farm system.
Bleacher Report ranked their system 11th ahead of the 2019 season, but then bumped them to 9th after the season concluded. With Casey Mize and Matt Manning blazing their way to the majors, primed and ready to join Michael Fulmer, the Tigers are setting themselves up to potentially have a rotation much like the one that brought them to three consecutive ALCS appearances in the early 2010s.
With the potential for a rotation made up of Mize, Manning, Fulmer, and Boyd, the Tigers could have one of the more dominant stables of studs in the league over the coming years.
The Tigers have already secured C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop from division rival Minnesota, adding stability to their lineup without gambling too much. Cron and Schoop were two of the eight Twins hitters to record over 100 hits last season, and there’s nothing better than stealing directly from your competition. It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s not a leap.
With Jake Rogers and Willi Castro looking to compete for MLB jobs in Spring Training, these Tigers might just be poised to pounce on the 2020 season. The odds, however, seem to be against a resurgence next season. Then again, the last time the Tigers found themselves under 50 wins they went to the World Series three years later.
When you’re at the bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up.
- / 2 days ago
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