Grading the Tigers at the mid-term point of the season

Nick Castellanos has struggled and Joakim Soria has earned an excellent grade.

Nick Castellanos has struggled and Joakim Soria has earned an excellent grade.

The mid-term grades for the Tigers are in.

Who was fantastic? Who did very well? And who needs to improve?

The Position Players:

Miguel Cabrera: Played hurt in 2014, and you knew that a healthy Cabrera was going to make the pitchers pay this year. Was having a monster season before landing on the 15-day DL. Grade: A+

Jose Iglesias: He is already the finest fielding shortstop in Tiger history, with all due respect to Alan Trammell. His hitting has been a major plus. It will be interesting to see if it continues in the second half. Grade: A

James McCann: Finally getting his chance to play every day after the loss of Alex Avila, he has made the most of it. Possesses a strong, accurate throwing arm, and shows flashes of power at the plate. He continues to improve at calling a game. Grade: A-

J.D. Martinez: The question going into this season was whether he played over his head in 2014. For a while there, it looked like that was the case, but once the summer heated up, so did his bat. Still strikes out a lot, but after Cabrera, this is the guy opposing teams least like to see at the plate in the late innings of a close game. Grade: A-

Yoenis Cespedes: Has given the Tigers just about what they were hoping for: A power bat in the middle of the order, and vastly improved defense in right. Will swing at anything, and rarely walks, but remains an exciting player to watch. Grade: B+

Anthony Gose: Is every bit as good as Austin Jackson was in centerfield, and maybe even better. Has made some truly electrifying plays this year. A lifetime .234 hitter with Toronto, he is never going to remind anyone of Tony Gwynn, but the Tigers have been satisfied with his .282 average so far. Needs to cut down on the strikeouts and draw more walks. Grade: B

Ian Kinsler: Where has his power gone? He’s not getting any younger, and his bat speed may be slowing down. Luckily, his work at second base has been as reliable as ever. Grade: C+

Victor Martinez: Because of injuries, he just hasn’t been the same player this year. Has had thrilling moments, but he is going to have to improve his game in the second half for the Tigers to have any shot. Grade: C

Nick Castellanos: Let’s remember that he is still only 23 years old. He has the potential to be a 20-25 homer guy, but has looked confused at the plate this year. He’s not going to earn any gold stars with his fielding, which puts added pressure on him to contribute more as a hitter. Plays hard every day, though. Grade: C-

The Pitchers:

David Price: Without him, the Tigers would be toast this year. That doesn’t bode well for 2016. Let’s enjoy him while he’s here (however long that is). Grade: A+

Joakim Soria: Ok, he’s had a few meltdowns recently, but he’s been one of the team’s most important contributors. Not flashy on the mound, he just works quickly, changes speeds, and throws strikes. Grade: A-

Alex Wilson: A pleasant surprise, he doesn’t seem to have any fear on the mound. Has an excellent strikeouts to walks ratio. Grade: B+

Blaine Hardy: His numbers look good, but he remains inconsistent at times. Quality left-handed bullpen arms are indispensable, so the Tigers need this guy going forward. Grade: B-

Al Albuquerque: Gets the job done, more often than not. Has fallen in love with his slider, but needs to mix in his fastball more often. Albuquerque remains an enigma. He has been with the Tigers now for five years, and yet there is the sense that he has never become the pitcher he is fully capable of. We watch him pitch sometimes, and say to ourselves, “Wow, this guy should be better than he’s shown.” We expected more. Grade: B-

Anibal Sanchez: Hanging breaking balls have been his big nemesis this year. When he’s on, he is still a top-flight pitcher. Too inconsistent in 2015 to merit a better mark. Grade: C

Alfredo Simon: Less than a month ago, he was worthy of some serious All-Star Game consideration. At this writing, he is awful. In his last five starts, he has an ERA of 11.12, and a WHIP (Walks plus Hits per Innings Pitched) of 2.471. To borrow a phrase from broadcaster Jim Price, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” Grade: D+

Shane Greene: Like Simon, he started strong, but has fallen off a cliff. The trip to Toledo doesn’t appear to have helped much. It hasn’t been easy watching Greene. Grade: D

Justin Verlander: If somebody had told us at the beginning of the season that JV would not win a game in the first half, we would have predicted the Tigers would be .500 and ten games out of first at the break. And that’s almost exactly where they are. Grade: Incomplete

The Manager:

Brad Ausmus: The second-year Tiger manager has made some startlingly questionable decisions, which has raised more than a few eyebrows. Never given to excessive displays of emotion, he continues to keep his cards close to the vest. Win or lose, his public face remains the same, and he never reveals much in pre-game interviews or post-game pressers. Many fans believe he should be more of a rah-rah guy (whatever that means). But look around the league, folks. The vast majority of managers are as interesting as dead trout. There are no more Sparky Andersons or Tommy Lasordas, and Joe Maddon is the exception rather than the rule. Bottom line: Ausmus isn’t the reason the Tigers can’t get things going consistently. Grade: C+