Sunday, June 15, 2014

Catfight: Delmon Young vs Torii Hunter

One of 2014’s most frustrating players to watch for Tigers fans has been right fielder Torii Hunter. Torii’s a five-time All-Star and nine-time Gold Glover in his career. And he’s always been one of baseball’s more likable players. But this year, he has looked nothing like the old Torii. Instead, he looks like Old Torii. It’s like he has somehow aged a decade since the end of the 2013 season.

His defense is atrocious. I mean, it’s laughably bad. Magglio Ordonez was a statue at the end of his career in right. Ryan Raburn was a comedy of errors out there. And Brennan Boesch was a sick, bizarre combination of both. Torii is managing to outdo those three in the two and a half months we’ve seen this year. It’s sad.

And at the plate? Ugh. When Hunter arrived from the Angels last year, he seemed to be trying to hit every ball to right field. And he had success, lacing base hit after base hit the opposite way while putting up a .304/.334/.465 slash line. This year? He seems to be trying to pull everything. He does that goofy bat chuck after every swing, as if he thinks every ball is leaving the yard. And he takes walks about as often as Phil Coke throws clean innings. It hasn’t been a good combination.

It’s not surprising that Torii has been compared a lot to a former Tigers punching bag, Delmon Young, by several fans online. Bad defense? Check. No patience at the plate? Check. Embarrassingly low on-base percentage? Oh yeah.

But is the comparison fair? Has Hunter’s stock really fallen that far? Luckily, TigerSnark is here to solve this mystery with the exact science I like to call “Catfight”. Ten categories, Delmon vs Torii, and we’ll see who the better man is.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Losing My Love For the Game

The Tigers are still in first place. They have the best hitter in baseball. Detroit also arguably has the best starting rotation in the game. They’ve won their division the last couple years and are the favorites to do so again this season. They’ve had two World Series appearances in the past decade. Etc.

I’ve sat through the down years of the late 80’s, 90’s, and early 2000’s. I’ve seen many of my favorite players get injured, get older, and retire. I rooted for them throughout the nightmare that was 2003. I survived Game 163 without murdering anyone. (Barely.) I didn’t kill any hookers when they melted down against Texas or Boston in recent ALCS matchups. Etc.

And in my thirtieth year as a fan, I’m finding myself not into Detroit Tigers baseball anymore. Well, at least not like I used to be. Not even close. And no, it’s not the recent skid by the team. I’m not THAT fan. I wasn’t enjoying baseball like I’m used to when they came out of the gate winning to start the season, either. No, it started before that.

I’ve been trying to figure out why over the past few weeks. And what I’ve come up with is a combination of many factors. Here are the big three.