Tigers Baseball Outsider

a thinking fan's perspective

Sunday, May 20, 2012

2012 and the 40 Game Mark

Here again we sit at the 40 game mark.

Verlander tips hat after
finishing almost no-hittter against
Pittsburgh on May 18
This time the year is 2012, and the Tiger's roster has all of baseball expecting the Detroiters to be the AL Central Champs – and to at least advance well into the playoffs.

So all of Tigers Nation has been on pins and needles waiting for this lineup of hitters that can actually switch from left to right handed hitter every batter – we have all been waiting for this lineup to explode.

The opening series looked promising – as just such explosions went off against Boston – Cabrera and Fielder showing what an amazing powerhouse combo they could be.

Justin Verlander came out of the off season with the same kind of control and domination he showed last year.

"Great, so how are the boys doing then?" Might ask the recently recovered survivor stranded on a dessert island.

Well, right now the Tigers are …. Drum roll please … wait – let me double check baseball-refernce.com quick to make sure …
from baseball-reference.com (C) 2012

Third place? Four games back of Cleveland?

A game under .500?

The whole of Tigers Nation is wondering what used car salesmen sold this fan base on the hype of this team.

And this year, I have listened, read, and participated in far too many conversations revolving around firing the pitching coach, the hitting coach and the manager.

Fans are pissed off.

Just to rub a bit more salt in the wound, the Tiger's released long time fan favorite / superhero Brandon Inge as he was hitting below .200 and was not doing very well fielding at second base – only to see Inge picked up by AL West rival Oakland and have a career week and be in the running for MLB player of the week – a week that included games against a west coast traveling Tiger's squad.

But now Inge is on the DL – in Oakland – and all are left to wonder if that was but one last gasp of dying career before what appears to be inevitable – but so often postponed by the will power of Inge.

Yes, I agree, that was a paragraph too many about Brandon Inge.

Justin Verlander's pitching has been stellar – but a hitting slump disallowed Verlander to win giving up only two or three runs – and a failing bullpen has pulled the wins out from under Justin's feet. He sits right now at 5 – 1, but that record should be oh so much better.

Two nights ago, Verlander carried a bid for a no-hitter into the ninth – effortlessly blasting 100 mph fastballs and nasty breaking other stuff past a formidable Pittsburgh Pirates lineup – only to have it broken up by a "get-a-barrel-of-the-bat" stab at a low curve resulting in a bloop single hit up the middle by Josh Harrison with only two more outs until perfection.

And the fans reaction after that game?

Leyland should be fired for playing Jhonny Peralta at short stop because Peralta did not dive for the ball.

Check out this teams batting average at the 40 game mark:

Strong hitting from Jackson Dirks, Cabrera, and Fielder show a strong front four players at the top of the line up. But Dirks has been batting in the two-hole only recently – Boesch held that spot in the order for the first thirty games.

The numbers look good, and once in a while the front of this lineup does explode. But overall this Tiger's gunpowder seems to be wet – and finding dry patches to spark appears to randon at best.

Aside from Verlander – there hasn't really been anything stellar to point to. Jose Valverde who went perfect in 2011 in save situations – has been nowhere near perfect in 2012 – losing his first save opportunity for Verlander in game one of 2012 – the celebrated home opening day in Detroit.

Fisters been hurt. Porcello and Smyly (a rookie with great promise up from Toledo) have held their frustrating own at .500 – and the rest – basically throwing batting practice with umpires on the field.

And that's how we sit at 4 games back in the AL Cenral – one game under .500 after the first 40 games of the 2012 season.

Does it look like things will turn around? Well Verlander's almost no-no the other night certainly gave promise – but there is little real signs that anything else will change.

Basically – this team is playing well below potential now. The whole team. And that has led to fans screaming for Manager Jim Leyland's head. That and some questionable decisions. It's hard to read the papers and sports news sites – or listen to the radio.

Tiger fans are livid.

I think things will find their level – and the Tigers will get hot for twice the streak they are slumping. I do think they will pull out of this and nobody need be fired – although I think it's time to send Ryan Raburn someplace like Toledo.

But I do think the Tigers will survive this period.

But I appear to be in the minority. We don't need a scapegoat.

We just need these guys to follow Verlander's and Cabrera's and Fielders example – and start delivering what they owe this team, and these fans.
© 2011 Fred Brill - all rights reserved