The Detroit Tigers lost 114 games last season, only five teams in the Modern Era have lost more games in a single campaign. They lost 98 in 2017 and 2018, too. Unfortunately for the few that are going to turn up to those early-season games at Comerica Park, the 2020 campaign is unlikely to be much better.
Here’s our 2020 Detroit Tigers season preview…
Major League additions
Jonathan Schoop and C.J. Cron were the two major offseason adds. Cameron Maybin, Austin Romine and Ivan Nova are all veterans who will hopefully be not rubbish, but none of them have notable upside. Cron and Schoop have 40-homer potential and hopefully raise the Tigers offence up slightly.
It’s still the dog days of the rebuild in Motor City. Detroit are loaded with an elite farm if you look at their pitching prospects. Unfortunately, teams require offence. The Tigers need to find any players with offensive upside they can get their hands on.
Schoop and Cron, while making sure the Tigers actually score some runs in 2020, could return a half-decent prospect if they enjoy good years. Cron has hit 55 dingers over the last two seasons, Schoop was back to around league-average in 2019.
The rotation is actually pretty good, even with former Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer set to miss much of the season. Matthew Boyd is solid, Nova should be around league average. Spencer Turnbull and Daniel Norris are serviceable middle-rotation guys.
Health is the concern, of course, but there’s reason for hope with these arms. Detroit should consider trades for any of them if teams are interested, considering the amount of pitching depth they have in the farm. This starting staff should be able to give the Tigers some decent innings which could keep them from the unwanted position of the worst-record in baseball (that’s likely a crown headed for Baltimore).
They don’t have any guys who are likely to force their way into Cy Young contention, but the Tigers have a good rotation compared to their line-up.
Schoop and Cron were necessities really. The Tigers don’t have upside in their line-up or upper minors, and the Major League team is littered with not-very-good players. Jeimer Candelario looks unlikely to even be a league-average hitter, Miguel Cabrera is most certainly in his twilight years.
Dawel Lugo, Niko Goodrum, Victor Reyes and Christin Stewart are all subpar. They were the lowest-scoring team in the league last season, and finished with almost 100 runs fewer than the third-worst offence, belonging to the San Francisco Giants.
It’s a good job the pitching is solid, because Detroit may well score fewer than 600 runs again.
Aim for 2020
Another top-five pick is almost guaranteed. That’s, in a way, a good thing. What the Tigers need to do, though, is find players with upside, players who they can learn about. The Maybin, Cron and Schoop signings make sense to a degree because they needed some players to take the field, but Detroit should be looking for high-performing minor leaguers and upside former prospects to try out in the Majors this season.
Losing 98 or 100 games is neither here nor there. Improving long-term options has to be the aim for 2020, and the Tigers’ front office should have been more active in the offseason.
Hopefully some veterans can be dealt during the season to bring in players with upside, preferably for hitters who fit the timeline of Casey Mize and Matt Manning. Contention is still two or three years away. The Tigers haven’t made full use of this rebuild so far, but there’s still time to find some useful hitters.