BY JOHN MACDONELL, Guest Writer
So who are the 2012 Detroit Tigers? Why are they still behind the Chicago White Sox in the chase for the Central Division Title?
In the Tiger’s defense, Chicago is having year that is remarkably identical to the Tigers of last season. Adam Dunn, the White Sox’s designated hitter, was atrocious. My dog could have strolled up to the plate and struck out as many times as Dunn did. I remember watching him last year when he played against the Tigers and thinking, how has Chicago not cut this guy yet?
But they hung on to him and he is finally starting to pay dividends. First baseman Paul Konerko, catcher A.J. Pierzynski, and outfielder Alex Rios, are playing the roles of Tigers Miguel Cabrera, Alex Avila, and Jhonny Peralta respectively (circa 2011 of course).
It was wrong of us all to suspect that the players mentioned above would contribute with the same amount of power and average that they did in 2011. Avila’s average has dipped to .244 this season, with 8 HRs and 41 RBIs through 104 games. In contrast, Avila’s 2011 stats were as follows: .295 average, with 19 HRs and 82 RBIS in 141 games.
Jhonny Peralta’s stats? Even worse. Thus far in 2012, Peralta has averaged a .252 average, with 11 HRs and 58 RBIs through 131 games. 2011? .299 average, 21 HRs and 86 RBIs. To be completely fair, both of these players had career years in 2011 and have fallen off to more of their averages. Avila is still relatively young and has promise, but Peralta is a .276 career hitter.
This Tiger’s team also misses the production of last year’s DH, Victor Martinez. Out of the entire 2012 season with a torn ACL, it’s hard to replace over 100 RBIs and clutch hitting. The Prince Fielder signing was supposed to help soften the blow and rally the fan base, but for the amount of money Fielder signed for, I have a hard time justifying that contract.
This team has vastly underachieved, but is it all entirely their fault? Can we, or should we, expect average players to play above their potential? Forgive me if I was all in to begin the season, but currently I have both my legs swaying off the wagon. I have a hard time watching a team that night in and night out, consistently has a hard time scoring runs. They struggle to win every third game and can’t seem to gain any ground on the surging White Sox.
People still forget that this team has not won a Championship since 1984. We’re coming on 30 years here folks. 30 years of no banners, no parades, and no trophies. Don’t get me wrong, winning your division, setting attendance records and even reaching the World Series in 2006 are remarkable achievements. But it’s not good enough. Not for me.