Small samples are always going to be small samples, but we’ve now had a week to observe the 2015 iteration of the Detroit Tigers and it’s worth revisiting some of our preseason questions. Now, of course, nothing is definitive so early in the season and this is only a conversation starter. Did anything that happened this week move the needle for you and how much did that needle move?
Victor Might Need More Time To Recover Than Cabrera
Both of the Tigers’ key offensive cogs had offseason surgery and the team’s success this year is going to be largely dependent on their two anchors. After a week of the season, Cabrera looks plenty healthy. That doesn’t mean he won’t break down again, but until it happens, his ability to drive the ball appears to be Cabreraian. As for Victor, the strikeouts are up and he has zero extra base hits. Now this could easily be a normal one-week stretch, or it could be a sign that he’s not quite up to speed. He’s not making nearly as much contact as he has in the past, so it’s not like this is just a 30 PA randonmess in results thing. It wasn’t his best week, and that might have to do with his abbreviated spring.
Anthony Gose Might Be Useful
I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that Gose’s .615 BABIP isn’t sustainable and that his 200 wRC+ will come down once we have an actual sample of PA, but he has made better contact that I anticipated so far. He hasn’t walked and has a massive strikeout rate, which are obviously important considerations, but it’s possible he might put together a .120 ISO instead of a .100 ISO regardless. If that’s the case, you might have something that resembles a starting caliber OF rather than a quality defensive replacement. We’ll have to keep an eye on it, but while the first week doesn’t really matter, the signs were more positive than negative.
The Defense Doesn’t Suck
The team has managed 5 defensive runs saved over the first week, and while that’s not a stat that matters a whole lot in such a small sample, it matches the expectations and what we’re observing visually. The Tigers have two above average outfielders and a great middle infield tandem. Avila is a good defender. A healthy Cabrera should be solid enough at first. So that just leaves JD Martinez, who isn’t special in the outfield, but he’s also not a massive liability either. And of course, Nick Castellanos.
He’s made a couple of nifty plays over the last few days, and while I’d caution you not to extrapolate those plays well out into the future, they are a sign to me that he’s capable of improving. I’ve said all along he has the tools to be better than a -15 defender at third, but that it would require a lot of effort. By all accounts, he’s put in the effort and has looked improved so far. Again, it’s not a sign he’s good now, but it was a welcome sight.
Shane Greene Is Probably A Real Thing
It was the Twins, so no one is talking about the stat line, but Greene’s stuff looked a lot like an arsenal that can get out major league hitters. He did it late last year and we all liked the acquisition, but getting a chance to see it up close in a Tigers uniform cemented my belief.
Whatever, it’s early so the stats don’t mean anything. Joe Nathan is hurt, which means Brad Ausmus can’t use him, but it also highlights how little depth there is on this roster given that Ian Krol and Joba Chamberlain are the primary 8th inning tandem. Ian Krol. No one’s been a disaster, but you are pretty much always afraid of a game being close when the starter gets tired and that hasn’t changed.
Krol and Joba are the 8th inning tandem because Ausmus has an irrational aversion to Al Al, who has clearly amassed a far superior body of work over the past year. Actually, I could imagine Nesbitt in the 7th, Al Al in the 8th, and Soria in the 9th being quite serviceable.