Toledo Mud Hens manager Mike Rojas watches the action against the Norfolk Tides during a baseball game this year. The Mud Hens, alongside most of the Detroit Tigers' minor league affiliates, failed to make the postseason. THE BLADE
If you’re a farm club of the Detroit Tigers, you’d better hope you’re the West Michigan Whitecaps.
This year the Whitecaps, Detroit’s Low-A club in the Midwest League, are in the playoffs for the fourth year in a row, looking for their second title in three seasons. West Michigan, which is based in Grand Rapids, Mich., has been in the playoffs 12 times since joining up with the Tigers and has won six championships.
Yes, Detroit knows how to take care of its Low-A affiliate. But the jury is still out on the Tigers’ ability to build championship teams at the other levels.
Lakeland, the Tigers’ High-A affiliate in the Florida State League, won a title in 2012. Before that, the Flying Tigers most-recent playoff bid came way back in 2005.
That grumbling you hear from the East probably is coming from Erie, Detroit’s Double-A affiliate. The SeaWolves’ last playoff bid came in 2013, and before that, Erie had missed the Eastern League playoffs in every season since 2005. The SeaWolves have just four postseason berths since hooking up with the Tigers in 2001, and lost in the opening round all four times.
This year was especially frustrating for the folks in Erie. The SeaWolves entered August in position to make the playoffs, only to see a number of call-ups fuel Toledo’s hot run that month – and doom Erie to an 11-22 finish and a missed playoff opportunity.
By now you know the Mud Hens’ tale of woe: Toledo has had eight straight losing seasons and has not been in the International League playoffs since 2007.
And did I mention that only one full-season Tigers affiliate is in the playoffs this year?