Through 35 games, the 2022 Detroit Tigers own a 12-23 record, good for a .343 winning percentage that's worst in the American League and third-worst in the majors.

Fans have soured on this team, particularly over the last week and a half. During a six-game losing streak between May 4 and 9, the Tigers scored a cumulative 8 runs and were shut out twice. After that, Detroit lost four out of five to the slumping As, who had lost nine straight coming into Comerica Park. The Tigers' bats continued their disappearing act in that series, scoring 10 total runs.

Tigers' Offense Is Offensive In All The Wrong Ways

Since getting Miguel Cabrera his 3,000th hit in a 13-0 win over Colorado on April 23, the Tigers have lost 16 of 22. Thank God Baltimore helped them pad their win total over the weekend. Without the Orioles' help, the Tigers would own the same record they did through 35 games a year ago — or worse.

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The stats are bad. Detroit is 25th in the MLB with a .225 team batting average, good for 12th in the American League. The team's on-base percentage is worse, ranked 26th in the MLB  and 11th in the AL at .288. The Tigers slug at an MLB-worst .309 clip, and their .597 OPS is only out-embarrassed by Oakland.

Detroit is dead-last in the MLB in runs scored, averaging about 2.86 per game, and home runs, with 16 on the season.

Fans and media alike have piled on the team over the past 10 days for its offensive anemia. Sports talk radio and social media have been inundated with acute criticism. It's clear that the narrative surrounding the Tigers is one of great disappointment.

But is Detroit's performance objectively disappointing, or could it be that fans and media are let down because their expectations for this team weren't realistic to begin with?

Auditing the Tigers' Offense

Let's take a look at how Detroit finished the 2021 campaign at the plate:

  • Batting average: .242 (16th in MLB, 8th in AL)
  • On-base percentage: 308 (24th in MLB, 10th in AL)
  • Slugging percentage: .399 (22nd in MLB, 12th in AL)
  • OPS: .707 (22nd in MLB, 11th in AL)
  • Runs: 697, or 4.3 per game (22nd in MLB, 11th in AL)
  • Home runs: 179 (24th in MLB, 13th in AL)

The Tigers' 2022 marks in all of those categories are worse than they were in 2021, but their rankings aren't much different. Of those six key stats, the Tigers were among the bottom third of both the MLB and the AL in all but one (the '21 squad's batting average ranked right about the middle of the pack). This year, Detroit is in the bottom third in all six categories.

The point is the offense was bad in 2021, too. And the organization still hasn't addressed a weak middle of the batting order, which is the source of those offensive woes.

Expectations Aren't Rooted In Reality

So why would anyone expect the Tigers to improve in 2022? Because their big free agent signing was a defensive-minded shortstop known for striking out a lot and hitting .260 for his career?

Or is it because they made a last-minute trade for an outfielder who's basically played three real seasons, one of which was limited to just 36 games, and has hit about .230 over the last two years?

Maybe pinning playoff hopes for a team that finished 15 games out of the Wild Card onto a 22-year-old who was in Single-A this time last year isn't a smart strategy? (Spencer Torkelson is hitting .094 in May, by the way.)

Signing the Red Sox' fourth- or fifth-best starting pitcher and immediately crowning him your ace was a bold move, too. But bold doesn't necessarily mean smart.

And did anyone ever think that maybe AJ Hinch isn't the same manager without an elaborate eaves-dropping system to compromise his opposition's strategy? Even if Hinch is a great skipper when going legit, he can't swing the bats for the Tigers.

I get it — the Tigers looked ahead of schedule last year. They finished eight games under .500, and it looked like the franchise finally had a future sans Cabrera. But to make the jump from pleasant surprise to legitimate postseason contender requires a big upgrade. Detroit didn't really do that, despite what the media may have led you to believe about Javier Baez, Austin Meadows, and Eduardo Rodriguez. And if a team expecting to graduate to contender status doesn't overhaul its roster with significant improvements, it needs multiple guys to make meaningful strides. That simply hasn't happened.

Vegas tried to tell you. While the Detroit media was filling your head with visions and dreams of 2006-come-again, professional prognosticators in the desert set this team's over-under win total at 78.5, about two games better than the Tigers' actual 2021 record.

With no real difference in the lineup, expecting an improved Tigers offense was really the same as expecting big years at the plate from Torkelson, the Castros, and Robbie Grossman, none of whom have displayed any kind of reliability there before.

 

It's OK to be disappointed in this team's lifeless bats. But to be upset because Detroit isn't in the hunt for the postseason is silly. It's time to readjust expectations for 2022.

Now, let's not do this with the Lions this year, OK?

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