What does AJ Hinch to Detroit mean? The Tigers (and the AL Central) just got a lot more interesting

  • Sports reporter, Kansas City Star, 2002-09
  • Writer, Baseball, Baseball Prospectus
  • Co-author, Pro Basketball Prospectus
  • Member, Baseball Writers Association of America
  • Member, Professional Basketball Writers Association

Over the last two days, two teams from the same division hired two title-winning managers who have followed two very different paths and have two very different stories. For the Detroit Tigers, this tale of twos may be too good to believe.

AJ Hinch became the 39th manager of the Tigers on Friday, signing a multiyear deal to lead a team that fancies itself on the verge of emerging from a rebuild. The Tigers’ .365 winning percentage since the start of the 2017 season is the worst in baseball, with three seasons in the .395 to .397 range (including .397 last season) and a rock-bottom mark of 47-114 (.292) in 2019.

Hinch has seen this movie before. When he was hired to take over the Astros before the 2015 season, Houston was coming off a four-year stretch during which it had a .358 winning percentage — worst in baseball — with a rock-bottom mark of 51-111 (.315). In his first season with the Astros, Hinch led the club to 86 wins and a wild-card berth.

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