I think it’s all about the walk.
Be patient and always work the count. It puts pressure on an opposing team’s pitch count and forces them to throw you a proper pitch, a strike, that you can then launch out of the ballpark. Take what they give you, Tigers. It’s fine if we walk in these runs with the bases loaded, isn’t it?
Here are our leaders in walks (with walk percentage):
#1 Alex Avila (.123). Our catcher’s patience should set the tone for the entire team. He never gets too up or down, keeping his trot steady. That demeanor is what keeps him calm under pressure time and time again, whether it’s because a pitcher is melting down, a foul ball drills him in the leg, or the simple fact that he’s watching 95 MPH fastballs zoom right in front of his face every play. His beard says it all.
#2 Victor Martinez (.101). Martinez’s approach is legendary. He seems to slow down time, sweeping the plate back and forth in front of him. He’ll rarely swing at the first pitch, often working a full count until he’s ready to make his decision. This type of balance destroy’s the opposing pitcher’s rhythm and frustrate’s them as well.
#3 Miguel Cabrera (.096). Big Cat really does a damn good job. He walked .095 when he won the Triple Crown in 2012, .137 in ’10, .157 in ’11, and .138 last season. He seems frustrated by his lack of home runs, but barring that surgery last season, he’d be hitting his usual forty plus. The doubles are there (he leads the league), so in time, just like with Martinez’s ACL, it’ll be there. Those doubles are fine in the mean time. Until then, let them walk you, Big Fella.
#4 Don Kelly (.094). I did not expect to see the Don in this position. It goes to show that we all take him for granted. Coming off the bench, he can literally do it all with his ability to play every position. Kelly can bunt, use his speed, defend, and has power.
#5 Eugenio Suarez (.087). This also pleasantly surprised me. For a rookie who seems to strikeout, Suarez proved me wrong. He deserves his spot at shortstop as long as he can stay consistent. I know he hit those home runs early, and the power is there, but this is what really impresses me.
#6 Bryan Holaday (.067). The backup catcher proves that steadiness behind the plate translates to patient at-bats. We can all follow the catcher’s lead, he’s like the quarterback.
#7 J.D. Martinez (.066). Not bad. With all the power J.D. possesses, if he got his walk rate a little higher, he’d have a long successful career. Martinez is not one dimensional and can line-drive doubles as well. If he balances out his approach, Martinez will really boost us for the playoffs.
#8 Nick Castellanos (.066). Again, not bad, especially for a rookie. Castellanos has the power to deserve a walk like the other hitters on this list. Pitchers fear the home run when they face Avila, Victor, Cabrera, J.D., Hunter, Kinsler – each and every Tiger on this list is capable of going yard. So because they’re afraid of throwing you a strike you’ll crush, you’re gonna get balls. Take them. It’s a sign of respect, not the opposite.
#9 Andrew Romine (.061). We might need our backup shortstop in case the rookie needs help. Romine, like Suarez, simply has to get on base to please the Tigers and help the team.
#10 Rajai Davis (.043). It’s not that the speedster has to change his style. This is more about those crucial situations where we need you to move runners over. Instead of always swinging and leaving guys on base, play that small ball. Work a walk or sacrifice the runners over. Either way – have a plan, don’t just wildly swing.
#11 Torii Hunter (.043). The 39-year old right fielder has played 17 seasons, yet he swings for the fences like a kid. C’mon Hunter, we need you. Don’t give in to bad pitches, especially with runners on base. We’ve got to think about what we’re going to do before we step up to bat. You’re fast, too – bunt!
#12 Ian Kinsler (.041). Kinsler has got to slow down. I love his attitude, but when it interferes with basic human logic, it’s time to relax a little. Work that count for us, especially when we all know how good you are. It’s time to go from an All-Star to an MVP, Ian.
*Justin Verlander’s walks are definitely up on the year, so it goes both ways.