Detroit Tigers: Why It's Time to Replace Batting Coach Lloyd McClendon

Matt BowenAnalyst IIMay 12, 2012

LAKELAND, FL - FEBRUARY 21:  Lloyd McClendon #12 of the Detroit Tigers poses for a portrait during Photo Day on February 21, 2009 at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida. (Photo by: Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

The Detroit Tigers continue to hover around the .500 mark as the time has come to replace batting coach Lloyd McClendon is here. 

Coming into the season, the Tigers were said to have one of the more potent lineups in all of baseball, but halfway through the month of May their bats are rather tame. This is a season where nothing less than a World Series ring is expected and the time to shake up the clubhouse is now.

While many fans may feel like manager Jim Leyland should be on his way out, that's not going to happen. Instead, it will be his longtime friend and trusted companion McClendon that takes the fall. Sure, the Tigers currently rank fifth in the AL with a .254 team batting average, but most teams don't have two premier power hitters like Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.

In 2011, the Tigers fired pitching coach Rick Knapp on July 3 and things went upward from there. The Tigers were just 45-40 when they fired Knapp and finished the season an impressive 95-67. A similar move should be in store in regards to McClendon this season. 

To date, the only Tigers who have been impressive at the plate this season are Austin Jackson (.320 BA) and Andy Dirks, who's hitting .381 in 19 games this season and currently riding a six-game hitting streak.

While Cabrera has 27 RBI, he's batting just .291, which isn't bad, but he appears to be pressing the issue, feeling the pressure beginning to take a stranglehold on his ball club. As for Fielder, he's batting .286 at the moment, which is right around his .283 career batting average.

The bottom half of the Tigers lineup is where the hodgepodge of struggling hitters reside. No matter who cracks the lineup on that particular day, their batting performance is sub-par to say the least. What seemed like a slow start now seems like reality for these hitters. 

Last year's confidence has turned into this year's prayers for Tigers fans when it comes to these men at the plate. Timely hitting has escaped the Tigers this season and things must change if the team is to even contend for the AL Central. 

Look no further than former Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge for evidence that change is needed. Because Inge was 2-for-20 with the Tigers this season and many fans were relentlessly booing the former All-Star, he was released on April 26 by Detroit only to be nabbed by the Oakland Athletics on April 30. 

Since his move to Oakland, Inge has lit-up opposing pitching. In 10 games with the A's, Inge is batting .244 with 17 RBI. While .244 may not seem scorching, he's only a career .234 hitter. Most impressively, Inge is currently enjoying a six-game hitting streak in which he's hit four home runs and has four RBI four times. Now that's a way to win over your new teammates. 

Like Inge, his former teammates need some new guidance, a new voice to listen and learn from while trying to conquer the opposition at the plate. The Tigers need something to change, and it starts with McClendon.