5 Biggest Takeaways from 2016 Detroit Tigers

BRAD AUSMUS DESERVES MORE CREDIT

Brad Ausmus3

Put down your pitchforks and torches for just one second. By no means am I fully endorsing for Brad Ausmus to return in 2017, let’s make that clear. But let’s also be fair, he did some things this season that he deserves a lot of credit for.

Everyone’s first criticism of Ausmus seems to be the mismanaging of the bullpen, going back to 2015 when the team finished under .500 and in the basement of the AL Central. Let’s not forget he had no reliable options in the bullpen, outside of Alex Wilson and Blaine Hardy, and he could only use those guys so much. Compound that with an injury-plagued and inept rotation and he was handcuffed big time. Now this year, he finally had some more bullets to use.

General manager Al Avila did him a favor by getting a bonified veteran closer in Francisco Rodríguez to lock down the back end and prevent any chance of a revolving door. He got another good year out of Alex Wilson and a surprise breakout season from crafty lefty Kyle Ryan. And even over the final two months of the season, Bruce Rondón came on strong. Now while guys like Shane Greene, Mark Lowe and Justin Wilson had inconsistent seasons indicative of the Tigers’ season as a whole, Ausmus by and large did a good job picking and choosing his moments throughout the year when and when not to use them.

And in the lineup, he did a good enough job when it came to finding replacements for key injuries, most notably to Nick Castellanos and J.D. Martinez. Granted, his options were not stellar to begin with. And when players when through awful slumps, Justin Upton being the biggest culprit, he gladly gave them time off to not even think about baseball. And more often than not, those guys came back and produced in a huge way.

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We know Brad is not the most fiery guy, not the most animated. But that should not be confused with ‘passion’ for the game. A long-time big league catcher, the Ivy League grad Ausmus can dissect a game as much as anyone. We’ve seen a couple times though that when things boil over in a single game, Brad will go to bat at the dish for his team in pivotal moments of the season… literally.

And we can’t forget back in May when the team was in an absolute rut losing 11 of 12 games, and he was constantly getting grilled by both local and national media about his job security, before and after games. His position became suddenly more important than each individual game and how the players were performing, or not in that case. A visibly-frustrated Ausmus in an interview during that series had enough of beating a dead horse.

Is he the best manager? No, of course not. He’s as calm, cool and collected as they come, normally at least. And there’s nothing wrong with that ever. There’s plenty of managers who carry similar a demeanor in their respective clubhouses. His future as the Tigers manager is up in the air but if he gets the boot, no doubt this cat will land on his feet elsewhere and get a fresh start. He’s too good of a baseball mind to not be part of the game.

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