DETROIT — The Tigers opened Comerica Park 21 years ago with the idea of bringing speed and athleticism back into the game. As they head towards the stretch run of their 2021 season, they arguably have their best team to take advantage of it.
A week after the Twins swept the Tigers at Target Field by exposing Detroit’s bullpen weaknesses, the Tigers used their strengths to turn the tables in a rain-shortened three-game series at Comerica Park, culminating with Sunday’s 7-0 win. In the process, they continued to establish their identity under manager A.J. Hinch.
These Tigers aren’t going to outslug opponents often, not as they’re currently constructed. They’ll gain home run power when Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson arrive, and potentially add some before that via free agency and trades. But with Akil Baddoo and Derek Hill in the same lineup, bookending the batting order, these Tigers have the athleticism to manufacture offense against difficult pitching and pull out the low-scoring games their young rotation provides them.
A day after Baddoo fell just shy of elite speed on Statcast while running out a bases-clearing triple, he crossed the threshold legging out an infield single to lead off Sunday’s attack, topping out at 30.2 feet per second. The Twins had their infield shifted for Baddoo to pull the ball, but he essentially outran the play, beating pitcher J.A. Happ to first base. Baddoo then reached 29.6 feet per second for his team-high 14th stolen base of the season.
Happ stranded Baddoo at second, but Jake Rogers’ leadoff double and Hill’s bunt single put the Tigers back on the move in a three-run third. Hill dashed down the first-base line at 30.3 feet per second, leaving Happ with no play as Rogers moved to third base for Jonathan Schoop’s sacrifice fly.