If you want to build a champion nowadays in major-league baseball, you do it through the farm system. You do it through drafts and hopefully through some good trades. It’s not an easy thing to do. You have to scout well, you’ve got to do a good job of developing your players and you've got to monitor your pitchers’ innings when they need it. You have fall into some stars. But if you want to be truly great, if you want to build something special, every so often you have got to get lucky. You have got to find a diamond in the rough. The Tigers may have found that with Eric Haase.
The ascension of Eric Haase has been one of the biggest bright spots for the Detroit Tigers this season. It all started in spring training. A.J. Hinch is a manager that loves versatility. He loves guys you can play multiple positions. I was always baffled when Haase, who was expected to be a 3rd, probably 4th string catcher before the season started, was getting reps in left field and first base. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. This was the day I learned to stop worrying and trust A.J. Hinch. Haase did not get called up this year until the middle of May. He’s played all of 55 games this season, and in those 55 games all he’s done is accumulate an .855 OPS with 17 home runs and 41 runs batted in. On Tuesday night, he was responsible for quite possibly the Tigers biggest home run of the season. Trailing 5-1 in the top of the 9th inning, Haase hit a grand slam to tie things up. This was a huge moment for a team that was in the midst of a 4 game losing streak. The Tigers would later go on to win in extra innings.
Yesterday, during what was quite possibly the most insane baseball game of 2021, Haase padded Tigers lead with a bases clearing double to put them up 16-12. They would later going to win 17-14. At the age of 28, Eric Hasse is still technically a rookie. He was released by the Cleveland Indians last year and picked up by the Detroit Tigers, a team that he grew up being a fan of when he attended Divine Child high school in Dearborn Michigan. Prior to this season, in 53 plate appearances, Haase had accumulated a .353 OPS. He has gone from a AAA catcher to everyday starter in a matter of months.
The Tigers rebuild is built around the Spencer Torkelsons, the Riley Greenes, and the Casey Mizes of the world, and I think all those guys are going to be excellent players. But if this thing really wants to get off the ground, they are going to have to get a bit lucky, and find some guys no one thought much one. Eric Haase may be one of those guys. His walk rate probably needs some improvement, but he’s got a very quick hands and he’s been incredibly clutch this season, and clutch against good teams too. I don’t know if there is a player in baseball who has given the first place Chicago White Sox more nightmares than this guy. In 8 games, he’s responsible for a 1.329 OPS with 5 homers and 12 RBIs. Early in the year, he was hunting fastballs, as many rookies have a tendency to do. But what’s been most impressive about him is that he’s adjusted to life in the big leagues. He’s seeing breaking balls better and he’s taking more pitches. You’ve seen similar progression with Akil Baddoo, who went through a rough patch before bouncing back in the late May/early June. He is a key reason for the Tigers turnaround since that disastrous April. He is tied with Jonathan Schoop for the team lead in home runs right now. Schoop has played 99 games, Haase has played 55. I think more people are starting to take notice of this guy. It really is remarkable what he’s done. If he keeps this up he may garner some Rookie Of The Year consideration. He may not have Adolis Garcia’s pop or Akil Baddoo’s flash, but he’s helped revitalize a team that seemed dead in the water for the first month plus.