It is said that hitting a baseball is one of the hardest things to do in all of sports.
One week into the 2008 season, the Detroit Tigers are proving this to be true.
With a lineup composed of mostly career .300 hitters, the Detroit Tigers were projected to score 1,000 runs this season, and were a heavy contender to win the American League pennant.
Instead, the Tigers have stumbled out of the blocks, losing their first six games of the season. Even the Barry Bonds-less San Francisco Giants have mustered one win over the first week of the season.
The most surprising thing about the rough start has been that vaunted lineup. The Tigers have totaled just fifteen runs in six games. All-Star second baseman Placido Polanco, who finished third in the junior circuit in hitting, has started off the season 2 for 21, and he is not the only hitter that has been struggling.
Highly regarded third baseman Miguel Cabrera has not found his stroke since his home run in the opener against the Royals.
The worst came Sunday night on national television, when the Tigers needed a throwing error and a wild pitch to eke out two runs in a 13-2 loss to the White Sox. The Tigers hit into an embarrassing five double plays and left multiple runners on base.
On Tuesday, they travel to Boston to take on the defending World champion Red Sox. Time to panic, right?
The answer is no. The beautiful thing about baseball is that the season stretches across six months, and that anything can happen from April to September. I have three reasons why the Tigers will right the ship during these six months.
1. The weather. Let's face it, Detroit is not a great place to play baseball, at least in April and early May. All of the Tigers first six games were at home, and each game was relatively chilly. Combine the weather with a spacious ballpark and many Latinos who are not used to playing in the cold, and you get a struggling offense.
Think back to last year. Magglio Ordonez was struggling at the beginning of the season until the Tigers went on a west coast swing. Magglio caught fire, and ended up winning the batting title.
2. The lineup is just too potent. ESPN announcers Jon Miller and Joe Morgan brought this up many times on Sunday, and I completely agree with them. When you have this many good players with great track records, you cannot possibly continue to lose.
When Curtis Granderson joins the lineup, the worst regular starter's career batting average will be .280 (Jacque Jones). This also means that their two hottest hitters so far this season, Clete Thomas and Brandon Inge, will be on the bench, giving them a very deep bench.
Also, the bullpen, which was the supposed Achilles' heel of this team, has not been too bad with the exception of Jason Grilli's performance on Friday. I really like the arms that they have there, and I think that they have more than enough arms to hold down the fort until Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya get back.
3. Lastly, the season is just too long to start worrying right now. Teams have gone on six game losing streaks before, but everything is magnified at the beginning of the season. With 156 games left, and a great skipper in Jim Leyland, the Tigers have no reason to panic.
As a Tiger fan, I would trade a bad April for a good August, which is the exact opposite of what happened last season when Detroit missed the playoffs. So even while the Tigers struggled out of the gate, I implore Tiger fans to hold off on the booing until there is reason to panic—as frustrating as it might be.