Detroit Tigers: Grades for Every Starter in August
The Detroit Tigers had an impressive month of August going 19-11 and keeping a stranglehold of first place in the American League Central, leading the Cleveland Indians by 7.5 at the end of the month.
There were very few Tigers who had below-average months during the dog days, but Detroit saw several pleasant surprises step up and mount some consistency, which the Tigers will need down the stretch and into the playoffs.
Here are the grades for every Tigers starter in the month of August:
Austin Jackson: B
Finally healthy, Austin Jackson had his best month of the season in August, hitting .280 with a .350 on-base percentage, five home runs and 13 RBI.
Jackson's five homers were by far the most he's hit in any one month this season and the center fielder especially caught fire in the last 13 games of August, earning 18 hits including seven multi-hit games and 10 RBI.
Jackson cut down on strikeouts from the month before and increased his walk total, providing the Tigers with a great asset at the top of the lineup.
Torii Hunter: B-
After a ridiculous month of July in which he hit .374, Torii Hunter came back down to earth a bit in August, batting just .276.
This month's average was lower than his season total of .304, but Hunter continued to provide above average power numbers from the 2-slot, with 18 RBI and five home runs including a crucial three-run walk-off bomb against Oakland on Aug. 29.
Hunter had his best month from a patience standpoint, striking out just 15 times in 100 at-bats and walking six times.
Miguel Cabrera: A
Although Miguel Cabrera was riddled with injury throughout August, the defending Triple Crown winner had an incredible month.
Cabrera hit .356 with a .430 on-base percentage, 11 home runs and 31 RBI, boasting numbers in 27 games that a lot of players shoot for in a half of a season.
The 30-year-old battled leg and abdomen injuries all month, keeping him out of three games, but only went hitless in four games and managed to earn multiple hits in 11 games.
Prince Fielder: B
After struggling for most of the season, Prince Fielder finally showed signs he's coming out of his slump.
In August, Fielder had his best month since April, hitting .289 with a .358 on-base percentage, four home runs and 16 RBI in 121 at-bats.
Fielder had 10 multi-hit games in the month and also put together a 10-game hitting steak, gaining some consistency that's been evading him all season.
He also dealt with his off-the-field issues including an impending divorce that became very public. He remained a professional, refusing to make excuses and continued to find himself in the lineup everyday.
Victor Martinez: A
Victor Martinez is finally having the season many people expected him to have this year after an electrifying year in 2011.
After going into the All-Star break batting just .258, Martinez has raised his season average to .297, powered by a July average of .390 and a .386 mark in August.
Martinez played all but one game last month and only went hitless in five games.
He earned a hit in 13 of the last 14 games during the month and honed his eye at the plate, earning more walks (12) than strikeouts (8).
Martinez, who also played two games at catcher, didn't give at-bats away. He had good at-bats and helped bolster the middle of the lineup when the Tigers needed it.
Andy Dirks: B-
Despite decreased playing time, playing in just 21 of 30 games, including pinch hitting several times, Andy Dirks had one of his best months of the season.
In 63 at-bats, Dirks batted .286 and managed a .408 on-base percentage, one home run and five RBI.
He earned 13 walks compared to only nine strikeouts and continued to be a valuable defender in left field, boasting a .989 fielding percentage.
Omar Infante: A
After missing 33 games with a leg injury, Omar Infante triumphantly returned to the Tigers' lineup, batting .352 with three home runs and 11 RBI in 71 at-bats in August.
After going hitless in his first game back, Infante earned seven hits in his next three games and had eight multi-hit games in 18 appearances.
Infante raised his season average to .319, bolstered the second base position defensively and is batting equally as good against left and right-handed pitching, with a .310 and .323 average, respectively.
Alex Avila: D-
Alex Avila missed 19 games in August with concussion symptoms, but when he was in the lineup, he wasn't much help for the Tigers on either side of the ball.
Avila continued his putrid season at the plate, batting .182 with one home run and seven RBI in 33 at-bats.
The 26-year-old catcher has only played in 80 games this season, averaging just .204.
Avila struck out 10 times in August, compared to just two walks, and behind the plate this season, he's only thrown out 11 out of a possible 69 base stealers for a .159 average—by far the worst in his career.
Jose Iglesias: A-
Jose Iglesias was a pleasant surprise for the Tigers in August, being acquired in a trade with the looming suspension of Jhonny Peralta.
After seeing Peralta's lack of range at shortstop the past few years in Detroit, Iglesias has dazzled with defensive effort, playing several highlight-reel plays in his first month in Detroit.
The Tigers admitted that anything offensively from Iglesias down the stretch would be a bonus, but the 23-year-old has held his own in the batters box, bolstering the bottom of the lineup, batting .294 in August with a .348 on-base percentage.
Max Scherzer: A+
Max Scherzer continued his brilliant season with another perfect month in August.
Scherzer went 4-0 with a 2.50 ERA, improving his season total, going into September to 19-1 with a 2.90 ERA.
The Tigers won five of the six games that Scherzer started in August and the 29-year-old earned five quality starts in the month.
Scherzer continued to rack up the strikeouts, mowing down 37 batters in 39.2 innings compared to just 12 walks.
Justin Verlander: D
People continue to try and figure out what's wrong with Justin Verlander as he had another sub-par performance in the month of August.
Verlander went 1-2 in the month with a 4.11 ERA and the Tigers lost four of the five games that Verlander started.
The former ace had typical strikeout numbers with 31 K's and only nine walks in 35 innings but he couldn't keep opponents off the base paths, surrendering 32 hits including a 10-hit game on Aug. 22 against the lowly Minnesota Twins.
Anibal Sanchez: A
Anibal Sanchez had an incredible month for the Tigers, boasting a perfect 3-0 record with an impressive 2.90 ERA in six starts.
After a rocky middle stretch of the season, Sanchez has returned to form, earning five quality starts in August and striking out 43 batters compared to only 10 walks.
Sanchez is proving to be a workhorse, throwing at least 106 pitches in each of his August starts and giving the Tigers the opportunity to win in five of his six appearances.
Doug Fister: C-
Doug Fister had a less-than-stellar month of August, recording a 2-2 record with a 4.30 ERA including his worst performance of the season on Aug. 28.
Against the Oakland Athletics, Fister allowed seven earned runs in just five innings leading to an embarrassing 14-4 loss.
Despite not throwing at least seven innings in five of his six starts last month, Fister gets the benefit of the doubt because the Tigers went 4-2 in those starts and in his two wins, Fister was brilliant allowing a combined two runs in 14.1 innings.
Rick Porcello: B-
Rick Porcello had a decent month in August.
He went 3-1, but had an elevated ERA of 4.29.
He received a lot of run support in his three wins during the month, but he also had three quality starts and put the Tigers in position to win four of the six times he toed the rubber.
The 24-year-old had one of his best strikeout months of the season, mowing down 27 batters in 35.2 innings, but his walks were also increased, allowing 11 free passes and at least one in each of his starts.