Can A.J. Hinch Survive Another Dreadful Season in Detroit?

The Detroit Tigers are off to another dreadful start. How long does a bad start remain a bad “start?” When does it become just another bad SEASON?

Not even the pageantry of the home can change the fact that the Motor City Kitties are already in last place, 5 1/2 games back, and with an offense as weak as Near Beer, it’s not likely the team will see a .500 record this season.

It seems like a lifetime has passed since A.J. Hinch has had anything to smile about in a baseball stadium.

Entering his third season as skipper of the Tigers, Hinch faces the possibility of his team being buried in the standings by May 15 for a third time.

The question must be asked: if the Tigers keep losing early in the 2023 season, as they did in 2021 and 2022 under Andrew Jay, can he survive to keep his spot in the manager’s chair?

New Boss, Not Same as the Old Boss

In 2021, the Tigers lost 24 of their first 33 games as the Hinch Era began in Motown. Last season, with hopeful expectations hanging over the club, the team lost 23 of their first 32.

Want to know how to ruin every Michigan baseball fan’s summer? Ask Hinch.

This time though, in 2023, Hinch’s boss in April isn’t the overmatched Al Avila. This time, the fans have refused to drink the koolaid, and are skeptical of these “top 100 prospects.” This time, the boss is Scott Harris, an enterprising man who doesn’t have sentimental ties to anyone in the clubhouse.

The man who hired Hinch was axed last summer. The owner who hired the man who hired Hinch is growing impatient. The man that owner hired to fix this abysmal “rebuild” is smarter than anyone we’ve seen in this front office since Dapper Dave Dombrowski was here.

Is there a scenario where the Tigers are 15 games out of first place at the All-Star break (as they were in 2021), and Hinch gets shown the door? Yes, that’s possible.

Maybe it’s even practical.

Is Hinch the man for this job? Does Hinch even want or deserve this job? Not just for the sake of the franchise, but the man himself?

Hinch might deserve better than the circus that the Tigers are (and will be) for years to come. The roster, both at the MLB level and in the farm system, is bad. The team can’t score runs, has a tough time fielding the ball, and their pitchers can’t stay healthy. The payroll leans heavily toward a shortstop who doesn’t have a clue what the strike zone is. Most of the prospects in the system are overrated.

No move by Harris is more illustrative of his aggressiveness than his decision on Jeimer Candelario. The Tigers under Avila negotiated with Candelario on a contract extension. After a very good season in 2021, Candelario plummeted last year. He continued to show that he was a mediocre defender and an average at best hitter with no idea how to tell a strike from a ball. Harris probably looked at two or three video montages of Candelario and realized what he was. Candelario was non-tendered.

Harris may not be the guy who’s going to return the Tigers to contention. But if he fails, he’s going to fail his way, and with his guys. He proved that by jettisoning Candelario. He proved that by keeping Akil Baddoo off the opening day roster. He’s going to make decisions he believes in, and if Hinch is at the helm of yet another crappy season, Harris won’t hesitate to fire him.

That’s why the first two months of this season are as important for A.J. Hinch as any in his career.

One reply on “Can A.J. Hinch Survive Another Dreadful Season in Detroit?

  • David F.

    List for me, in your article, a solution. Who would you hire to do a better job than Hinch given the same circumstances with the same players or former players?
    Hinch has done a great job under the circumstances. Who could foresee the injuries that occurred last season, and has effected the start of this season. (Mize, Skubal).
    He also has a very young club with very little veteran players. Beaz is not the answer at SS.
    Hinch is not the problem, but will be part of the solution going forward.
    It will take time.

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