I haven’t been exactly kind to the Detroit Tigers. In fact, nearly everyone in Detroit has treated the team like the 1919 Chicago White Sox. Rather than throwing the World Series while playing in it, the Tigers have seemed to throw their shot at a championship before they even made it. They’ve made incomprehensible pitches on 0-2 counts, failed to get down sacrifice bunts and swung at anything between their ankles and foreheads. In fact, their undisciplined play has apparently led to a close door meeting between manager Jim Leyland and GM Dave Dombrowski — perhaps nothing, but maybe not.
However, despite all their foibles they are remarkably still in contention in a better than expected American League Central. And things are about to get better, because — after all — they can’t get any worse. The Tigers talented young outfield is in process of getting healthy in a hurry. Austin Jackson has already picked up where he left off before his oblique strain, an emerging leadoff man with a knack for the big hit. Twice this past week Jackson delivered a key hit late in the game, situations where he would have struck out last season.
While I initially snickered at Jim Leyland’s revelation that the team found a hitch in Brennan Boesch’s swing, perhaps there was something to it. Boesch went from an instant out to a hitter who’s been battling out nearly every at-bat. Boesch was Oh-for-May before going on a hot streak since tweaking his stance, raising his average .030 points in less than a week.
Andy Dirks has been battling through hamstring and achilles injuries, but he’ll soon return to the lineup and is exactly the scrapper this team needs. A gritty defender who’s a pain at the plate — with just enough speed to make him a guy pitchers need to be aware of — Dirks was hitting .328 with an impressive .894 OPS. He should slide into the #2 spot in the lineup — moving Boesch behind thumpers Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder — and will allow Leyland to use surprise call-up Quentin Berry as a late inning pinch runner.
However, that creates a problem. A big, free swinging one — Delmon Young. Designating Young for assignment seems like a possibility, however, it’s unlikely. Rather, Young will be left in limbo and likely split time at DH with Boesch with Dirks filling in left or right for the other.
While it’s been an incredibly tough season for the Tigers, they haven’t had to opportunity to get their three young outfielders in the lineup healthy — or effective — at the same time. We’re getting close to seeing that for the first time. Hopefully they’re not too far behind in the division to take advantage of it.