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Grading the Tigers 1st quarter of the season

by Dan Cash

Note: post by Colin Windecker

Miguel Cabrera: A+, There isn’t a better hitter in baseball and he continues to impress every night. On pace for 42 HRs and 181 RBIs and is hitting .387. A repeat Triple Crown is very possible, something that has never been done. Cabrera’s average could flirt with .400 for much of the summer.

Matt Tuiasosopo: A, What a story this guy has been. Fills that fourth outfielder role perfectly. His power off the bench is a huge boast to this lineup. Could see more time if he continues to get on base and play solid defense.

Jhonny Peralta: A, Peralta lost 20 lbs. during the off-season and looks to be in the best shape since joining the Tigers. He’s hitting like an All-Star and has committed only two errors. His .988 fielding percentage ranks him third in the AL.

Prince Fielder: A, Leads the AL in walks for a reason. Has nine home runs but the batting average has falling in recent weeks.

Omar Infante: A-, He’d grade higher if he were hitting better than .228 on the road. Still having a great season and has an outside shot at making the All-Star team. Best #9 hitter in baseball right now.

Torii Hunter: B+, Two weeks ago his grade was an easy A. In his last 12 games Hunter is hitting just .058 (3-52) and has made some questionable decisions in right field. Still a huge upgrade over what the Tigers were putting in right in 2012. His average is at .310 right now, expect that to even out to around .290 at the All-Star break.

Brayan Pena: B, Ideal backup catcher. Has above average arm and is hitting the ball extremely well. If Avila doesn’t pick it up at the plate, the switch hitting Pena could see more action.

Austin Jackson: B+, Still strikes out too much but when he gets on he base he scores. Even with a week on the DL he still ranks second in runs scored, trailing only Miguel Cabrera. A perfect five for five in stolen base attempts.

Andy Dirks: B-, Has bounced back after a poor start with a .270 batting average in the month of May. Except him to be around that number the rest of the year.

Victor Martinez: C-, With a year off it was expected Martinez would struggle out of the gate. But no one thought it would be this bad. Has shown signs of breaking through but hasn’t been able to do it consistently.

Don Kelly: C-, Has a couple clutch hits buts also has had some pretty disappoint at bats in late innings. He’s Don Kelly, we know what we are getting with him.

Alex Avila: C-, Defensively he’s a B, offensively he’s a D-. Among 14 catchers with at least 100 plate appearances Avila ranks last in average, second to last in OBP, and has -.3 WAR. As mentioned before, Pena could see more time behind the plate if Avila’s bat remains cold.

Ramon Santiago: C -, Hasn’t played much due to the success of Peralta and Infante and is on pace for his fewest at bats since 2008. The lack of consistent playing time has hurt his average. Still a solid backup middle infielder. 

Avisail Garcia: INC, Has a home run in 8 at bats. Will be headed back to Toledo once Austin Jackson returns from the DL.

Anibal Sanchez: A, His last start was his worst start of the year but has proven critics wrong who thought the Tigers overpaid when they gave me an $80 million contract.

Doug Fister: B+, Has loved pitching at Comerica Park this year (4-0, 3.00 ERA). Weirdly has hit more batters (10), than walked (9). 

Max Scherzer: A, Leads starting pitchers in Ks/9 and is a perfect 5-0. The record is a little misleading as Scherzer has benefited from tons of run support but is still a leading candidate to make the All-Star team.

Justin Verlander: A, Roughed up his last two outings but still one of the best pitchers in baseball. Needs some more run support to turn some of the losses into wins.

Rick Porcello: C+, Has pitched better of late, 2-0 3.24 ERA in his last four starts. ERA will be high all year because of the nine run 1st inning he had against the Angels (take away that outing and his ERA falls from 5.82 to 3.83).  His Ks/9, and K:BB ratio are the best of his career.

Drew Smyly: A, Has pitched wonderfully out of the bullpen as the Tigers long relief guy. Lefties are hitting just .100 off Smyly

Darrin Downs: A-, Surprising is more effective against righties than lefties but still one of the most reliable arms out of the bullpen.

Joaquin Benoit: A, still one of the best set up in baseball and continues to shut down opponents in the 8th inning. Home runs are still a problem for him, two of three runs he’s allowed this year have come via the long ball.

Al Alburquerque: B-, Was sent down to Toledo to work on his command but 26 strikeouts in 14.1 innings are still very impressive. Don’t expect him to remain in the minors for long.

Phil Coke: D, Remember in spring training when people thought he was the answer for the Tigers closer situation. Righties are hitting .357 off Coke.

Jose Ortega: B, Has pitched really well, minus his last outing against Texas. The hard throwing righty will most likely remain on the roster for the time being.

Jose Valverde: B, Papa Grande is back and while there hasn’t been much to grade him on, so far he looks much better than he did in October of 2012. The fastball is back in 94-96mph range but the sinker is still a work in progress.

Octavio Dotel: D, Was placed on the DL in April and no timetable is set for his return. His elbow injury is the reason why his ERA is so high, so it’s not fair to grade him out at the moment.

Brayan Villarreal: INC, Probably won’t return to Detroit anytime soon but is pitching very well currently in Toledo (2.08 ERA in 14 IP)

Evan Reed: INC, Was sent back to Toledo after only pitching four innings. Another guy who probably won’t return to the big league club unless numerous injuries occur.

Luke Putkonen: INC, Was recalled to Detroit on Tuesday replacing Evan Reed. Only pitched 2 2/3 innings but hasn’t allowed a run or a hit.

Bruce Rondon: INC, Hasn’t looked good at all wearing a Detroit uniform. However, he’s been stellar at Toledo (9 SV, 1 ER, 19 Ks in 16.1 innings) Will eventually get a chance with the Tigers again but when that happens is anyone’s guess.