Detroit Tigers: Three More Breakout Candidates for the 2017 Season
Detroit Tigers players will soon report for Spring Training. With baseball season just around the corner, here are three more breakout candidates on Detroit’s roster to watch during the 2017 campaign.
Detroit Tigers fans have seen plenty of breakout performances over the past few years.
Despite fielding an established, veteran-laden team, other players have continued to establish themselves.
Elsewhere, Bruce Rondon was perhaps the team’s best reliever last season.
The flame-throwing right-hander made good on his excellent potential.
Rondon paced all Detroit relief pitchers in strikeouts per nine innings, swinging strike percentage, FIP and SIERA.
What’s more, the 25-year-old also ranked second on the team among relievers in ERA while also landing in the top 10 in WAR (sixth) and xFIP (seventh).
Entering the 2017 season, the Detroit Tigers roster is mostly set. There will be a few battles for spots in center field, on the bench and in the bullpen, but that’s about it.
Despite that, these three Tigers players could experience a breakout year this season.
Ok, so James McCann technically isn’t a traditional breakout candidate after turning in a superb defensive campaign in 2016.
The backstop finished as a finalist for the Gold Glove at his position in the American League. What’s more, McCann established himself as one of Detroit’s key defensive players.
McCann finished second behind Ian Kinsler in DRS with nine, while finishing with an rSB of seven.
In all likelihood, the catcher will continue to make an impact on defense in his career. However, the 26-year-old could be in for somewhat of a breakout season at the plate.
The 2016 season saw McCann hit .221 with a .272 on-base percentage and a 66 wRC+.
Those numbers, which checked in significantly lower than his 2015 output, were in part due to a .283 BABIP.
Despite the low BABIP number, McCann still posted career bests in ISO, home runs, walk percentage and RBI.
McCann’s BABIP is likely to rise next season. Don’t be surprised if it finishes somewhere between the league average of .300 and the catcher’s 2015 BABIP stat, .325.
With that rise in BABIP will likely come with an increase in offensive production across the board.
Position: Relief Pitcher
Similar to JaCoby Jones, Joe Jimenez could break out next season due to his upside and position.
Like Jones, Jimenez is one of Detroit’s promising prospects. Also like Jones, the reliever can contribute at a position of need for the Tigers.
However, another late-inning arm would greatly help the team.
The 22-year-old dominated in the Majors last season. Making the jump from Advanced-A Lakeland to Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo, Jimenez turned in a stellar 1.51 ERA.
To go along with that, he also punched out 13.1 batters per nine frames.
In addition to racking up strike outs and keeping runners off the board, Jimenez also limited mistakes where base runners were concerned.
Over the span of 53.2 minor league frames in 2016, the reliever posted a solid 0.801 WHIP. He also surrendered just 0.2 home runs per nine innings.
It remains to be seen if Jimenez will break camp with the Tigers. However, even if he begins the season in Triple-A, he can still make an impact for the team later in the season.
Position: Relief Pitcher
Early in last season, Greene showed flashes of being an effective setup reliever.
The former Yankee turned in a .278 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 22.2 innings out of the bullpen in June and July. Additionally, the same stretch saw the pitcher hold opposing batters to a .200 batting average and a .499 OPS.
However, there were also times when Greene struggled mightily.
Over his final 17 appearances, the reliever pitched to a 10.00 ERA in 18 innings. In the process, he allowed 27 hits, 20 runs, seven walks and a pair of home runs.
Despite the up-and-down season, there’s reason to believe the 26-year-old can break out in 2017.
Greene posted the highest WAR among relief pitchers with a 1.2 number.
The former 12th-round pick should also continue to miss bats next season. Greene turned in the second-highest swinging-strike percentage on the team at 12.7%.
If he can post a similar number next season, the reliever could very well improve on his 8.8 strikeouts per nine innings while also limiting base runners.
What’s more, a solid defense could also help Greene thrive. Last year, the veteran finished with the lowest FIP (2.96) of all Detroit Tigers relievers.
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