Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
Regardless of where the blame falls for the offensive struggles to start the year, they all don't fall on one person. However, that being said, there is plenty of blame to go around right now, and some of that does fall at the feet of the hitting coach Lloyd McClendon. At this point in time, there is basically one hitter that is exceeding expectations that is playing daily in Austin Jackson (which by the way, McClendon does deserve credit for), a handful of hitters that are around expectations, and a number of hitters performing below. While some bad luck can and has been claimed for a few hitters in particular, the Tigers overall team BAbip is .297, right in line and actually a bit above the league average. Fans can be confident that elite hitters like Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder are going to be able to figure things out, but the performance of the rest of the lineup is where McClendon's presence is most likely to be felt, and some players have never found McClendon's tutelage helpful. It certainly is by no means all his fault, but some blame does fall on him, and if a number of hitters don't get going by the midway point of the season, a change might be in order.
Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
It seems like we tackle this question every year. The problem is, I just don't see how he's responsible for these problems. If you walk through the lineup and look at each player, it's hard to identify what McClendon may have done wrong. Austin Jackson's season has been a rousing success so far. Does McClendon then get credit for that? Brennan Boesch is a flawed offensive player to begin with, so asking McClendon to work miracles there seems fool hearty. There's little chance McClendon is giving any substantial advice to Cabrera or Fielder, so it's doubtful he's at fault in this case. Guys like Alex Avila and Jhonny Peralta are coming off what were potentially career years. Is McClendon at fault for regression? There's nothing in their swing or approach that appears to have been a distinct change that a coach would have suggested. Ryan Raburn, like Boesch, has always been a flaws offensive player. So has Ramon Santiago. Andy Dirks has been raking lately, so is McClendon given credit there, similar to Jackson? The bottom line for me, I can't identify anything that he's explicitly changed other than trying things with flawed players, which is his job, but it is hard to fault a guy for not coaxing a lot more out of a flawed player. Personally, I've never been thrilled with McClendon's persona as a coach, but that doesn't mean he's at fault for all of the Tigers offensive woes in 2012.
Chris Vannini, Senior Staff Writer
If Lloyd McClendon deserves blame for the poor offensive start this season, then he deserves a lot of credit for last season. While guys like Ryan Raburn and Brandon Inge have been (or were) ripped for their terrible starts, there hasn't been much mention of the struggles of Alex Avila, Johnny Peralta and Delmon Young. After hitting .295 last season, Avila is at .239 as of Monday. Peralta hit a career-high .299 last year and is at .257 this year. Add in the struggles of Brennan Boesch and Prince Fielder, and there are a whole bunch of players not hitting their career average. It's up and down the entire lineup. That can't all be on McClendon. Last year, the Tigers fired pitching coach Rick Knapp midway through the season as most of the team's pitchers struggled. I don't see that happening with McClendon, as the Detroit hitters have a proven track record of success, unlike the pitchers last year. They simply have to do what they've always done. It has taken longer than expected, but the Tigers hitters will come around.
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