Detroit Tigers: Jeimer Candelario providing a steady bat during rough stretch

Motor City Bengals

After a rough start to the season, Jeimer Candelario kept at it for the Detroit Tigers.

The last week for many Detroit Tigers fans has been rough. But there have been a few individual moments that have stood out. The call ups of Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and Issac Paredes come to mind and a few individual performances.

One that has stood out to me the most has been the play of Jeimer Candelario. In his first 19 plate appearances, he did not have a hit, going 0-for-19. There were signs, as his hard-hit contact percentage was up but nothing to show for it.

Since August 2, he has put up a slash line of .351/.373/.632 with an OPS of 1.004. His BABIP (Batted Average on Balls in Play) is .439 which means he has been making good contact. What else has changed?

Jeimer Candelario’s Statcast Numbers

Season  Exit Velocity Hard Hit% K% BB%
2017 86.7 33.0% 21.1% 9.2%
2018 87.2 33.6% 25.8% 10.7%
2019 88.2 33.8% 25.6% 11.1%
2020 89.6 45.1% 25.6% 10.3%

While the three other seasons have more pitches to consider, the hard-hit contact has jumped up in a small sample size. What else are we looking at here? His XBA, (Expected Batting Average (xBA) is a Statcast metric that measures the likelihood that a batted ball will become a hit) is up to .267. The reason why this is a good measure of his improvement in the past few seasons, he was among one of the league’s worst.

He has been hitting lefties better. Last season, he hit them at just a .193/.295/.277 clip (16-for-83) but so far this season, he is off to a good start, batting .350/.381/.650 (7-for-20). With runners in scoring position, he is 7-for-21, batting .333 with a home run and a double.

Another deep dive you have to consider, with of course mentioning small sample size is what type of pitches he is swinging at and what type of success he is having.  Look at his batting average and slugging numbers against fastballs compared to 2019 per Statcast:

  • 2020: .361/.583 (13-for-36) in 161 pitches thrown (51.8%)
  • 2019: .212/.343 (42-for-198)

He is making better contact against fastballs so far. Ok, what about offspeed pitches? There is a big improvement so far. Same metrics, batting average, and slugging numbers.

  • 2020: .417/.833 in 51 pitches thrown (16.4%) 5-for-12
  • 2019: .222/.349 (14-for-63)

However, Jeimer could improve on his contact with breaking pitches, as he is still struggling, batting .077 so far (2-for-26) but the biggest takeaway is he hitting fastballs and offspeed offerings better so far in a small sample size.

With all the injuries and the call-ups, Candelario has been a steady presence which I believe has been overlooked. I hope his numbers continue to grow. He has been nothing but a great teammate so far, doing whatever the Tigers have asked him to do. In the midst of this 9-game losing streak, the “Candy Man” has provided a bit of rush Detroit fans have needed.

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