When Scott Harris agreed to leave his job as general manager of the San Francisco Giants to replace the fired Alex Avila as president of baseball ops for the Detroit Tigers, expectations should have been high. Harris was a key figure behind San Francisco’s remarkable 107-win 2021 season and NL West division title.
He was also leaving a strong division for a weak one, and joining a team with what was perceived to have a lot of young talent.
The first half of Harris’s first season with the Tigers can only be described as a disappointment. It’s not the Tigers who have been disappointing; at 35-46 and third in the Central, they’re pretty much where everybody figured them to be.
The disappointment has been Harris’ impact on the talent base in Detroit.
Grading the Detroit Tigers at the midway point of the 2023 season
What follows is a mid-term assessment of Harris’s personnel decisions since the conclusion of the 2022 World Series with a particular focus on the extent to which those decisions have helped or hindered the team’s performance.
The standard of measurement is Wins Above Average (WAA), a variant of Wins Above Replacement (WAR). For this purpose, WAA is preferable because unlike WAR, it is zero-based. That means the sum of all the decisions made by Harris impacting the 2023 team gives at least a good estimate of the number of games those moves have improved (or worsened) the team’s status this season.
A team’s front office impacts that team’s standing in five ways. Those five are:
1. By the impact of players it acquires from other teams via trade, purchase or waiver claim.
2. By the impact of players it surrenders to other teams in those same transactions.
3. By the impact of players it signs at free agency or extends.
4. By the impact of players it loses to free agency or releases.
5. By the impact of players it promotes from its own farm system.
Here’s how Harris stacks up by those five yardsticks.