Grading the Tigers Part 1: The hitters

Chris Castellani

Chris Castellani

NOTE: I won’t be grading players who were released (Hernan Perez, Joba Chamberlin) I won’t be grading players who were traded at the deadline (David Price, Yoenis Cespedes, Joakim Soria) but I will be grading the pieces that they traded for (Matt Boyd, Daniel Norris). Much of this is based on player expectations along with how they filled their role on the team. Just because I give Andrew Romine a higher grade than Victor Martinez does NOT mean that I think Romine is a superior player, it means he filled his role on the team much better than Victor did. So keep that in mind…

J.D. Martinez
Grade: A-
I think we all freaked out a bit when J.D. Went through an 0-25 stretch in the middle of May that included sixteen strikeouts. But his bounce back over the next few months wasn’t just staggering, it was downright dominant at points. J.D. Is one of the smartest players in baseball, a true student of the game who focuses on bettering himself every day. Because of this, I don’t think he’s had his best season yet. He occasionally goes through cold streaks. He still swings at a lot of off speed pitches that are low and away, but he invariably seems to come back quickly. There was a period in the summer where J.D. Was maybe the best power hitter in baseball. After a three home run performance against the Yankees where he hit home runs to left, center, and right field, J.D. Just took off. In a twenty five game stretch from June 20th to July 21st, J.D. Hit .343 with 14 bombs and 29 RBI’s. Not bad for a guy who was cut by the Astros thirteen months earlier.

Miguel Cabrera
Grade: A-
It’s not that easy being Miggy. We expect so much, he gives us so much and yet we anticipate more. Not taking into account the injury that sidelined him for a few weeks, Miggy was brilliant… until September when he seemed to slip. I’m sure it’s tough to maintain focus when you’re on a last place team, but it’s uncommon to see Miggy go through such a slump. He’s still the best pure hitter in the game, but that drop-off brought his grade down from an A to an A minus.

Ian Kinsler
Grade: B+
I’m not sure people understand just how good Ian Kinsler has been with the Tigers. Arguably his two best years as a pro have come as a Tiger. He works hard, no matter the standings or what the situation is. While the Tigers seemingly got worse as the season went along, Kinsler got better, batting. 325 after the All-Star break. He’s a premier second baseman who seems to improve with age.

James McCann
Grade: B+
James McCann is a superstar in the making. He’s a catcher with an absolute rocket for an arm. He can hit for power, he can hit for average, and he can hit in the clutch. He’s already received praise for his leadership ability. He’s wise beyond his years and has a baseball IQ that is through the roof. “McCannon” is not just the catcher of the future, he’s the catcher of now. Write this down; James McCann, 2016 All-Star.

Nick Castellanos
Grade: B
Castellanos received a lot of criticism this season. To be fair, much of it was justified. He’s a below average third baseman who struggled mightily through the first three months of the year. After batting only .217 through sixty nine games, Castellanos recovered nicely, hitting .283 over his next eighty four games. He might not have transformed into the stud we expected, but there is still time. You’re lying if you say that Castellanos didn’t take a step forward this season.

Jose Iglesias
Grade: B
On paper, one would probably think that Iglesias earned a higher grade than a B this season. He is very consistent with the bat, he doesn’t strike out and he is still a wizard with the glove… or is he? Iggy is obviously capable of making the spectacular play, but he also made a lot of really lackadaisical errors at short. There’s also been rumors that suggest that he’s a bit of a problem in the clubhouse, as evidenced by the dugout scuffle with James McCann earlier this season. He’s still a key piece of this team going forward. If he remains healthy, then his best days are still ahead.

Rajai Davis
Grade: B-
Full disclosure here, I love Rajai Davis. I know he’s not a very good outfielder, I know he strikes out more than we’d like him to, but he always has such a great attitude. Rajai’s a solid base runner who seems to have a knack for coming up big in clutch situations. He probably won’t be a Tiger next season, but he provided the Tigers with some great moments.

Andrew Romine
Grade: B-
I feel like Andrew Romine is what you get when you mix Don Kelly with Ben Zobrist. He’s nowhere near as valuable as someone like Zobrist but he’s got more potential than Kelly ever did (keep in mind, I was always a Donny Kelly fan). If there was a most improved Tiger award I would probably give it to Romine. His plate presence really improved, his fielding was solid across the board, and you have to give credit to the guy for learning so many different positions.

Tyler Collins
Grade: C
I don’t really see Tyler Collins ever becoming an everyday left fielder in the majors. It’s not like he’s done anything wrong in his stint with the Tigers (though he’s a poor left fielder) but he hasn’t done anything really noteworthy. He’ll probably be on next year’s roster where he’ll serve as a capable power bat off of the bench.

Jefrey Marte
Grade: C
He’ll fight for a spot of next year’s opening day lineup, but unless he improves his defensive inconsistencies and lowers his strikeout rate, he’ll probably start the season in Toledo. I wouldn’t surprised if he began next year with a different organization. He has enough pop his bat to be potential trade bait.

Dixon Machado
Grade: C-
I think Machado has the ability to one day be an average starting shortstop in the movies, but it won’t be with the Tigers. Unless something drastic happens, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Dixon shipped away at some point in the near future.

Alex Avila
Grade: D
I don’t share the contempt for Alex that some people do, but he’s making it really tough for me to defend him. In previous years Avila was a player who wasn’t going to hit for average, but he was going to draw his walks and occasionally hit for power. He drew his walks this year, but the power has dwindled. As he moves forward I think he’ll be an acceptable backup catcher to James McCann.

Stephen Moyà
Grade: D
It might be unfair to give such a low grade to someone who only played off and on for a month, but I’m yet to see anything out of Moyà to make me believe the hype surrounding him.

Bryan Holaday
Grade: N/A
We didn’t see enough of Bryan Holaday to really be able to grade him. In the little bit he played, he looked pretty good, but I just can’t really grade a guy who spent so much of the season in Toledo.

What do you think? Am I being to harsh? Am I being to lenient? You can let me know on my Twitter account

Stay tuned for part 2!

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