Go through the gallery to see The Detroit News' final grades for the Detroit Tigers' 2018 season, compiled by Chris McCosky. Click here if you have trouble viewing the gallery.
Detroit — The 2018 baseball season in Detroit was, if nothing else, ceremonious.
The highlights of this otherwise mostly forgettable six months were the ceremonies: tributes to newly-enshrined Hall of Famers Jack Morris and Alan Trammell, to recently departed stars J.D. Martinez and Justin Verlander on their returns to Comerica Park, and the emotional farewell to Victor Martinez, who retired after 16 seasons.
Other than that, and maybe the brief Rally Goose interlude, where the Tigers played some scrappy baseball, made a few improbable comebacks and hung close to .500 until the middle of June, there was not much to redeem this 64-98 season.
It was what the first year of a full-scale rebuild is supposed to be — a painful but necessary means to more pleasant end. Forty-nine different players wore the Old English D this season, including 27 different pitchers. Eleven players made their major-league debuts.
In the final month of the season, the Tigers everyday lineup featured two veteran players — Nick Castellanos and James McCann. The rest were first-year starters, rookies and Triple-A call-ups. And yet, they continued to fight and compete.
The Tigers played 83 games that were decided by two runs or less, 52 of those were one-run games.
“So many one-run and two-run games,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “The season could have been different if we got a big hit here or there, made a couple of better pitches. You can’t take that away from these guys. They believed all year. The record doesn’t indicate how many games we’ve been in and had a chance to win.
“But it’s called a learning process, figuring out how to win these games. A few more quality at-bats, guys getting more experience and adding talent. Nothing beats talent in this game and we need more talent.”
It did not help matters that they were without their franchise player, Miguel Cabrera, most of the year. He went down in early June with a torn biceps muscle. The Tigers offense ranked last in the American League in slugging percentage, OPS and home runs. Only the Orioles scored fewer runs.
The pitching, despite a rugged season for ace Michael Fulmer, improved from a year ago, amazingly enough, especially the bullpen. The Tigers ranked ninth or 10th in most pitching categories.
“We had a team that was very competitive, that very easily could've won a few more games getting a break here and there,” general manager Al Avila said. “So there's a lot of reasons why you can say we had a successful season, other than of course the wins and losses.
“The coaching staff led by Ron Gardenhire did a great job. These guys were motivated throughout the year. I thought we played an exciting brand of baseball…The quality of play was entertaining, to say the least. But we still have a lot of work to do.”
Here are the individual report cards, with the assessments based on the reasonable expectations for each player.