Tigers 2016: The Bad Outweighed the Good
The Tigers failed to make the playoffs, despite having the 4th highest payroll in all of baseball. There was a lot of good in the 2016 season, but also a lot of bad. Most of the good came from aging veterans, so fans have to be concerned that the Tigers’ window of opportunity is closing fast.
Injuries were definitely a problem this season. J.D. Martinez and Nick Castellanos had great seasons, despite being out for extended periods with injuries. Starter Jordan Zimmerman’s second half of the season was pretty much wiped out by injuries, but he was tailing off before that after a great start.
The bullpen was improved, but still could not be counted on. Francisco Rodriguez wasn’t bad as the Tigers closer. The veteran saved 44 games, and blew 5. Pretty much normal for a closer. Could have been better but was pretty good. Bruce Rondon was much improved. But after that, there was a lot of inconsistency from Alex and Justin Wilson and Shane Greene.
If there was a running theme to the Tigers’ 2016 season, it was inconsistency. They’d win 6. Then lose 5. Then win 8. Then lost 7 and so on. At some point, you have to point at the manager for that kind of play.
Catcher James McCann seemed to suffer from the sophomore jinx. He was solid behind the plate, but hit just .221. There were definitely other players who had terrible seasons, players that the Tigers were counting on. First and foremost: Starter Anibal Sanchez. The Tigers’ number two starter never really pitched well the entire season. If he’s gone 10-10 instead of 7-13, the Tigers would be in the playoffs. Mark Lowe was brought in to be the setup guy. He was terrible. Mike Pelfrey was slotted as the 4th starter. He was terrible too. Justin Upton ended up with an ok season, but only with a late-season surge. He was bad for most of the year, and ended up hitting .246. Jarrod Saltalamacchia was only the backup catcher but he only hit .171. Utility man Mike Aviles hit .210 before being traded to the Braves. Centerfielder Anthony Gose hit .209 before being sent down early in the season.
Several of those guys were signed by GM Al Avila, his first deals as the Tigers’ top guy. He did get Cameron Maybin back in Detroit, which was a good thing. And Zimmerman should be solid next year, if he’s healthy. But the rest were pretty much a bust, and for that reason I blame Avila for the Tigers season, more so than manager Brad Ausmus.