Tigers to bolster analytics dept. once again

September 29th, 2019

CHICAGO – The Tigers' player payroll is expected to stay much the same going into next season, enough to make some signings on a budget but not a major splash. Their major investment continues to be in analytics.

What was a one-man analytics department when Al Avila took over as general manager was up to 14 members this year. It’ll grow beyond that this winter as the Tigers look to add analytics brain power to their farm system.

“We’re adding more analytics. We’re adding more people,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We’re going out in search of college people that have really set the table and the groundwork for all this stuff, that know what they’re doing. As we speak, our guys are out there looking for people that are more involved in this.

“A lot of these kids coming out of college are way ahead of what a normal drafted kid out of high school is. You get some of these kids, they’ve already been there and done it. All these colleges are using it. Those are the people you want that are educated and understand it and can explain it to everybody else.”

A lot of the focus, Gardenhire suggested, will be on the offense as the Tigers try to produce impact hitters to complement the stockpile of pitching prospects they’ve assembled through the Draft the last few years.

It does not portend a change in away from the contact and situational-hitting philosophy the Tigers have emphasized under Gardenhire, an approach they believe plays to their advantage at spacious Comerica Park. What they’re trying to do is find better ways to get there after Detroit nearly pulled off the rare feat of leading the league in strikeouts while finishing last in home runs.

“I mean, yeah, we struck out a lot, but everybody’s striking out a lot,” Gardenhire said. “So that’s just part of the game and the new swing and the whole package. We’re trying to figure it out analytically, getting into the hitting part, getting more depth at that. Swing paths and exit velocities and all those things come along with it, so we’re really going to get into it. We’re adding in this organization in the Minor Leagues and Major Leagues. We’ll get there, and the good thing is we have kids, so they’re not old habits or anything like that. They’re just not very good habits right now, so we can help. And I think those are the lights at the end of the tunnel: You can get them better with all this information and hopefully get with everybody else.

“There’s definitely ways to improve it with all the data that’s out there that we’re going to let these guys see, and all the equipment we’re putting in the cages in Florida. There’s a lot of stuff. We’re even talking about doing something in Detroit where we can take batting practice and actually get data from it and show these guys what their hands are going, what their hips are doing, the whole package.”

Close shave at season’s end

’ wife is not a fan of facial hair. Hicks, however, was a fan of the beard he had grown down the stretch this year, and he wasn’t looking forward to shaving it off. He also found his home-run swing again while wearing it. So he shaved in stages as the final week unfolded.

“I said, ‘All right, the last three days, I’ll have a progression,'” Hicks said.

Hicks arrived in Chicago with a goatee and mutton chops, and he was sporting a Fu Manchu style when he hit his go-ahead three-run homer Saturday night.

“I have to keep it now,” Hicks said after the game.

He kept it at least for Sunday’s season finale, which he started at first base while batting cleanup. Hick planned on shaving it after the game before boarding his flight home to Virginia.