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Click through the gallery above to view Chris McCosky’s midseason grades for the Detroit Tigers. (Go here if you have trouble viewing the gallery.)
If you are looking for a blood-letting, this isn’t going to do it for you.
These are mid-term grades. And as bad as the Tigers were in the first half — nine games under .500, eight games out of the division lead, 6.5 out of the wild card — you don’t flunk players halfway through a 162-game season.
There will be no E’s or F’s here. There will be no A’s, either. This exercise is meant to be an assessment, a measuring of where players are against their expectations and past performances, half way through the task. What’s to be gained by flunking a performance at the intermission?
Plus, nobody needs a letter grade to know how disappointing things went these first three-plus months.
“You are what your record shows,” second baseman Ian Kinsler said. “That’s the bottom line. There is no way around it. There are no excuses. You can point your finger. You can talk about the pitching, the offense the base running, whatever you want.
“At the end of the day, we are what our record shows.”
Coming into the season, the Tigers’ success hinged on its built-to-slug offense being among the league’s most productive and at least three-fifths of the starting rotation being consistent. If they got those two elements, they could work around what they knew was going to be a problematic bullpen.
None of that happened. These American League rankings will tell the tale better than any letter grade:
■ 9th in batting average (.254)
■ 8th in runs (409)
■ 7th in slugging percentage (.425)
■ 9th in home runs (104)
■ 12th in ERA (4.78)
■ 12th in WHIP (1.44)
■ 14th in opponent’s average (.276)
■ 15th in home runs allowed (64)
■ 15th in ERA (5.04)
■ 13th in WHIP (1.44)
■ 11th in opponent’s average (.256)
■ 13th in home runs allowed (45)
It was a confluence of factors, though for a change injuries weren’t the biggest one — certainly missing J.D. Martinez for nearly seven weeks at the start of the season, and the lingering health issues of Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez didn’t help.
In terms of the offense, the Tigers have made more outs on hard-hit balls than any team in baseball. By a large margin. Also, players like Kinsler, Cabrera and Victor Martinez have performed well beneath their standards.
Pitching-wise, only Michael Fulmer held up his end of the bargain. It took the better part of 18 starts for Justin Verlander to get back to ace form. Jordan Zimmermann is still wildly inconsistent. That made the expected ups and downs of younger pitchers like Daniel Norris and Matthew Boyd more damaging.
“We have guys who are performing a little below what their track record says,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “Which is also why I expect a correction.”
There will either be a correction to the mean or a roster shake-up — possibly both.