Detroit Tigers’ hitters finally seeing some light after dark month

Detroit – The Tigers’ suddenly resurgent offensive has averaged 7 runs, 10.8 hits, and 4.8 walks over the past five games. Not too shabby for a team that together scored below .200 and, up until that point, had produced fewer runs than any other team in baseball.

What happened? Was it just the law of the mean, a correction of the mean? Or have adjustments been made? Has a light switch been thrown?

“Hitting is contagious,” said Robbie Grossman. “You see it all the time. It takes a person or two to get started, and here goes the rest of the team. You see it in the league all the time.

“We just want to expand that and move on.”

Manager AJ Hinch offered some glimpses behind the scenes after the 7-3 win on Saturday when he said the offensive game plan had “worked” in the last week or so. One of the unconfirmed theories during the alarming Tigers drought in April was that the thugs were, in some ways, paralyzed by all of the data thrown at them by this new coaching regime.

This was a group of hit hits, most of whom have dated a new hit coach in the past three years – from Lloyd McClendon and Joe Vavra to Scott Coolbaugh to Jose Cruz Jr. Hinch admitted a period of adjustment was inevitable.

“It’s always an adjustment with a new group of coaches, a new regime and new ideas,” said Hinch. “And then you take into account the response to the performance. So when the guys start fighting like we did the first month, it can be a bit overwhelming for the players.

“Sure, it was an adjustment. I already said you can talk about anything you want in spring training and you can pretend it is in exhibition games, but competition is in season. The planning and preparation of the games is so intense during the season that I’m sure it will be difficult for them. “

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But adapt or die, and both sides have adapted. Hinch said they changed the process a little, “tightened our daily preparation.” And, overall, the players have stuck to the plans better.

“The players did a great job isolating the day’s schedule and beating today’s pitcher,” said Hinch. “There is a lot of information that we could flood to lead to a series. But the competition is day after day. For example, we have to have a different schedule for Kenta Maeda than for Jose Berrios. “

It sounds simple and basic, but with so much data flying around, the immediate focus can be diverted and players return to their old instincts and methods in the racket’s box.

“I like how our communication has increased and how the players have adapted to the daily schedule,” said Hinch.

Even Miguel Cabrera, the most decorated batsman on the team, had to adjust his approach. His batting average had fallen below 0.100 earlier this month, but he has scored four hits and three walks in the last two games.

“He follows the schedule and doesn’t try to cover every field,” said Hinch. “Even a seasoned batsman and the most successful batsman on our team, you still need to have a pretty detailed game plan and not try to cover everything.”

The graphs and data helped Cabrera better choose his plan of attack against different types of pitchers. In its heyday, Cabrera was able to make this adjustment in real time. He could look for a fastball and adjust to the breaking ball that has left a thrower’s hand.

He can’t do this as effectively at the age of 38 and has been late with fastballs and chasing breaking balls outside the zone throughout April.

“You’re not going to cover 94 mph and the hard breaking ball on the outer third of the plate,” Hinch said. “It’s more divided into zones. He has a plan. It’s not the same plan every time. He’s a little better at what he’s trying to do from bat to bat.

“We made it easier for him. It’s a step in the right direction. “

Nobody says the crime is fixed, just that corrections have been made to facilitate a turnaround. These corrections are made throughout the year.

“We cannot accept doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” said Hinch. “For me it was an adjustment for our players. Once they see some fruits of their labor, hope they catch on. It won’t be perfect. It’s a tough league.

“But if the opportunity presents itself, we can have better bats. And maybe that builds some belief and confidence that we can be a strong offensive team. We don’t have to accept the fight. “

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Twitter: @cmccosky

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