Detroit — Major League Baseball announced its weekly honors Monday and, what do you know, former Tiger Isaac Paredes is the American League Player of the Week.
Every home run Paredes hits for the Tampa Bay Rays feels like salt in a wound, doesn’t it? It shouldn’t, but it does. His 10 home runs in 108 plate appearances are eight more than he hit in 193 plate appearances in parts of two seasons with the Tigers.
It’s only one fewer than he hit in 315 Triple-A plate appearances with Toledo.
But, good on him. He got an opportunity and he seized it. In 34 games, he’s slashing .255/.315/.612 with a 167 OPS-plus for the Rays. With the 10 dingers and 21 RBI.
The Tigers gave him a similar-length opportunity at the end of 2020. They moved Jeimer Candelario to first base and gave Paredes a chance to win the job at third base.
In the exact same number of games (34) and plate appearances (108), Paredes slashed .220/.278/.290 from Aug. 17 through Sept. 27, 2020. His OPS-plus was 57. He hit one home run and knocked in six with 24 strikeouts.
Last season, AJ Hinch thought Paredes could be useful in a utility role and gave him an opportunity to play semi-regularly at second base while Jonathan Schoop played first. He hit .208 with a home run and five RBI.
When the Tigers had a chance to trade him to Tampa for outfielder Austin Meadows, at a time when Riley Greene had just broken a bone in his foot, Derek Hill was on the injured list and Akil Baddoo was struggling, they jumped. Why wouldn’t they?
Meadows, 27 and with three years of team control, hit 60 home runs combined in 2019 and 2021. He was an All-Star in 2019.
It was viewed by industry insiders and by media pundits at the time as a win for the Tigers. And, even as Paredes rubs their faces in it with every homer, it still might be.
Meadows, who missed three weeks dealing with vertigo and then tested positive for COVID, has played in only 36 games for the Tigers. He has cleared protocols and is expected to start a rehab assignment with Toledo, either Tuesday or Wednesday. He could be activated during the homestand next week.
Once Meadows gets back up to speed, Hinch is going to have some juggling to do and some decisions to make.
Riley Greene, barring injury or major performance drop, is going to play center field just about every day. So Meadows, Robbie Grossman and Victor Reyes will likely rotate at the corners, with Reyes getting a spot start in center here and there to spell Greene — probably against some left-handed pitchers.
Willi Castro, who has been learning the outfield on the fly, will probably get some more playing time in the infield. Kody Clemens, in that scenario, would likely be the odd man out.
But that presumes Meadows produces. That presumes Grossman starts producing at least close to his levels from a year ago. He’s hit two homers with 18 RBI, hitting .214 and slugging .281.
Grossman is an intriguing case. He’s 32 and in the last year of his deal with the Tigers. As much as he did to help build the culture last season, with Daz Cameron, Akil Baddoo and Derek Hill all languishing in a crowded outfield in Toledo, it would not be surprising if the Tigers looked to offload Grossman at or before the trade deadline.
Any contending team would do well to add a consummate pro like Grossman, regardless of his struggles so far this season.
But again, that presumes Meadows can get healthy, stay healthy and return to form. Until that happens, we cringe every time Paredes puts one in the seats.
On deck: Giants
Series: Two games at Oracle Park, San Francisco
First pitch: Tuesday — 9:45 p.m.; Wednesday — 3:45 p.m.
Probables: Tuesday — LHP Tarik Skubal (5-5, 3.63) vs. LHP Carlos Rodon (6-4, 2.70); Wednesday – RHP Rony Garcia (2-2, 4.57) vs. LHP Alex Wood (5-6, 5.05).
Skubal, Tigers: The Giants’ hitters may see a little extra fire from Skubal. He’s coming off three rough starts where he’s been tagged for 21 hits and 15 earned runs in 13.2 innings. Opponents hit .356 and slugged .678 in those starts. Most telling, though, are the seven walks in those games. He had three walks total in his first 11 starts. His ability to command his fastball, particularly on the inner half of the plate, is paramount. That’s a big reason for the three-game scuffle.
Rodon, Giants: Maybe it’s a good thing the calendar is turning, because Rodon has been a beast in June. He allowed four earned runs in five starts covering 30 innings. He struck out 37 and held opponents to a meager .159/.216/.234 slash-line. He’s in the upper percentiles with a 34% chase rate a 31% strikeout rate. It will be his 10th start against the Tigers and surprisingly, he’s given up some damage, a 5.33 ERA and 10 homers, tied with Cleveland for the most any team has hit off him.