Yashinsky: Scherzer, Granderson, Porcello and More: The Ex-Tiger League Roundup
May 10th, 2017, 12:00 PM
Curtis Granderson (New York Mets)
There are 185 players in the big leagues that would currently qualify for a batting title. Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals paces all of baseball with a sizzling .410 average. But who is on the complete opposite end of the list, the player with the lowest batting average across all 30 MLB rosters? None other than our old friend Curtis Granderson, currently sporting a shield-your-eyes .136 clip at the plate. He’s managed 15 measly hits in 110 at bats.
Those are solid numbers...if you’re a National League pitcher. Granderson’s batting average has plummeted in recent years, but even so, the power has remained. He’s clocked at least 20 homers in all three years as a Met, and last season he reached 30. This year, he has walloped just a pair and it would be a minor miracle if he kept that 20-HR streak afloat. This is obviously not the same Curtis that went 26-for-27 stealing bases as a Tiger in 2007. This year, the creaky Granderson legs have not made a single attempt.
Max Scherzer (Washington Nationals)
Mad Max Scherzer is off to another blistering start for the Washington Nationals. Last year’s NL Cy Young winner is leading the Senior Circuit in strikeouts and he’d also boast a 5-2 record if the Nats’ bullpen didn’t waste his masterpiece in Baltimore last night. Scherzer fanned 11 in eight sharp innings, allowing just a pair of solo homers, but Dusty Baker decided 113 pitches was enough and the bullpen choked it away from there. In his two full seasons as a National, Scherzer has often been unhittable: 560 strikeouts against just 90 walks, the best such rate in the National League. Any chance the Tigers could get their ace back now?
Yoenis Cespedes (New York Mets)
The Cuban Hammer was off to a fast start, racking up six dingers in 18 games before hitting the DL with a bad hammy. He’s been out two weeks already and reports suggest he will miss at least two more. The Mets are eagerly awaiting his return, as Cespedes has swatted 66 homers over his last two seasons. Plus, they have a rather large hole occupying one of their starting outfield positions. (Looking at you, Mr. Granderson.)
Marcus Thames (New York Yankees)
The most electric story of this young baseball season could very well be the heroics of Yankees’ rookie Aaron Judge, a 6-foot-7 outfielder that wears #99 and hits bombs like the Bambino. He’s got 13 already, tied for best in the majors. So why is Judge included in this write-up of former Tigers? Because the assistant hitting coach for the Yanks is none other than Marcus Thames, onetime slugger and pinch-hitting specialist here in Detroit. Brian Cashman (the longtime Yankee GM) credited Thames during a recent interview as being a major reason for Judge and the rest of the team’s offensive fireworks in the first six weeks of the season.
Don’t forget that Thames was a home run-hitting machine in the pennant-winning season of 2006. He appeared in just 110 games, collected 348 ABs, yet still managed to clobber 26 long balls. It is a bit puzzling that Thames got just one turn at the plate in the World Series against the Cardinals. Yes, you lose the DH during the three games in St. Louis, but still, Old Man Leyland couldn’t have found more than one stinkin’ swing for his most dangerous power threat?
Rick Porcello (Boston Red Sox)
It would have been nearly impossible for Porcello to match his dazzling 22-4 season from a year ago. He got an insane amount of run support and ran off with an AL Cy Young award many felt belonged to Justin Verlander. Porcello has been solid through seven starts in 2017, but more hardware doesn’t look to be in his immediate future. He’s 2-4 with a 3.95 ERA, but has been very good in his last two outings (13 Ks, 0 BBs).
David Price (Boston Red Sox)
At least Porcello has taken the mound for the BoSox. Their other prized former Tiger, David Price, has yet to throw a pitch in Beantown this season. He strained his left elbow in February and only now is starting to work through some simulated action, though it will likely be a few more weeks before he toes the slab in a real game. It’ll be interesting to see where the Red Sox slate Price in a postseason rotation, should they get there. The lefty has made nine playoff starts in his career, and his team went on to lose every single one of those games. Whitey Ford, he is not.
Cameron Maybin (Los Angeles Angels)
There was quite the off-season racket from Tiger fans about the trade of Cameron Maybin. Al Avila didn’t seem to get much in return, and Maybin happened to be one of the team’s most dependable hitters in 2016, registering a career-high .315 average. He hasn’t exactly carried that momentum out west. Maybin is hitting just .202 with virtually no extra-base power. The Tigers will miss his speed, though. He’s 5-for-5 stealing bases for the Angels; the Tigers will be lucky to have even one player reach double digits this year. (Upton and Iglesias lead with three).
Eugenio Suarez (Cincinnati Reds)
Many in the baseball community thought Dave Dombrowski made another shrewd off-season deal a few years back when he shipped off little-used Eugenio Suarez for Alfredo “Big Pasta” Simon, a massive right-hander coming off his first All-Star appearance. Or, at least that’s how it looked on paper. Simon spent one year eating innings and getting whacked all over Comerica Park.
Now he’s out of baseball. Suarez, on the other hand, has been a godsend for Cincinnati. He’s the everyday third baseman for the surprisingly frisky Reds (18-15), displaying a tasty blend of power and overall hitting prowess (7 HR, .316 AVG). If Suarez keeps swinging a hot bat and can maintain his improved play in the field (just one error, after committing 23 last year), you could be looking at one of the more anonymous NL All-Stars this summer. This is a move that probably still costs Dombrowski two or three nights of sleep every winter.