The Detroit Tigers aren’t mailing in the season, and Hinch’s goal is to win as many games as possible, but a new objective has surfaced down the stretch.
The Tigers, the second-worst team in the American League, must assess younger players and gather as much information to help the organization (and a new general manager) make decisions in the offseason.
“It’s different,” Candelario said Tuesday. “New faces.”
The emergence of multi-positional prospect Ryan Kreidler, who has spent most of his time at third base, has taken playing time from Candelario. Last season, Candelario started 142 of his 149 games as the Tigers’ third baseman.
Since Kreidler’s Sept. 2 debut, Candelario has played four games at third base (including Wednesday vs. Houston). Only once, on Saturday in Kansas City, was Kreidler not in the lineup. For the other three games, Kreidler started at second base and twice at shortstop.
For where the Tigers are at in the standings, Kreidler receiving roughly 100 at-bats during his first stint in the big leagues is more important than keeping Candelario — who has 384 at-bats and, despite a team-high 13 home runs, a disappointing .203 batting average this season — in the everyday lineup.
“Whatever the manager does, I’m good with whatever,” Candelario said. “I know who I am. I know my identity. That doesn’t bother me. Whatever he’s got to do, he’s got to do it. I’m just going to keep working hard and doing my best to help my team win. We’re going to be all right. Whatever it is, it is.”
It’s too early to get a sense for Kreidler’s offensive ceiling — he entered Wednesday batting .233 with one home run, three walks and nine strikeouts in nine games — but there’s no doubt the 6-foot-4 infielder is a defensive upgrade.
The 24-year-old, a fourth-round pick in 2019, is already worth plus-3 defensive runs saved in seven games at third base. Candelario, meanwhile, is worth minus-3 defensive runs saved in 107 games.
“I don’t know if those metrics always tell the full story,” Kreidler said. “I think there’s a lot of good defenders who don’t have good metrics — Derek Jeter, my favorite guy, being one of them (with minus-165 DRS in his career). I think there’s always value to showing up at the right time, too. Some guys do that better than others, and the metrics won’t show if you pull off the clutch play.”
Kreidler’s defensive success is a product of his pre-pitch routine and natural instincts. Hinch said Kreidler “bounces off his first step probably as good as anybody we have.” Preparation on defense became an emphasis when Hinch began molding the Tigers’ player development department in a way that aligned with his progressive teachings at the big-league level.
“Since A.J. has come in, we’ve developed a uniformity in the minors,” Kreidler said. “All the shift cards are the same. That helps with the adjustment when you get up here. We’ve been in these positions.”
Candelario doesn’t have a steady pre-pitch routine, struggles to stay on his feet and lacks range. He also hasn’t hit well enough, and as a result of his poor offense, is a candidate to be non-tendered and forced into free agency this offseason.
And Kreidler, who says he always wants the ball hit to him, is eager for as much action as possible with 20 games remaining.
“Even when you make an error, or you make two, you have to talk yourself into thinking you’re the best defender because the next ball is going to come to you,” he said. “Other times, when you feel good you got to ride that out as long as you can. There are slumps on defense, too. I’m trying to maintain a good routine and be prepared.”
General manager search
Hinch was asked about the Tigers’ GM search, led by CEO and chairman Christopher Ilitch, Wednesday morning on WXYT-FM (97.1). Hinch, involved in the process, didn’t tip his hand.
“I don’t know how close (to a decision),” Hinch said. “I know Chris has been very active. I’ve been updated. It’s very close to the vest here in the organization. I know Chris is looking for a difference maker and looking for a vision and somebody that can take this forward and not keep us in the same spot we’re at.
“Timing-wise, it’s totally up to him. I’m not going to rush the owner. I’m not going to tell the owner when the timing should be. I’m trying to wrap things up here in a more positive nature. We’re going to have a pretty busy offseason ahead regardless of the timing. But we’ll see. I’ll hear about it before you guys will, but my focus is supposed to be keeping things sane down here.”
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Ryan Kreidler a superb Detroit Tigers defender, adds more questions
Source: Yahoo Sports