Casey Mize: Tigers 'should be aiming to win World Series'
After a season of progress and an offseason of upgrades, Casey Mize says the Tigers "should be aiming higher than the playoffs" in 2022.
"I think we're at the point now where we should be aiming to win World Series," Mize said this week in a Q&A with the Free Press . "Some people might scoff at that. I go back to a quote I learned in college: 'People don't fail because they aim high and miss, it's because they aim low and hit.' That's something that's defined my life. ... It's my mentality. I'm going to aim as high as possible in everything I do, and I think our team needs to think that way as well. To me, playoffs is too low of a goal. We're in a position now where we're a good enough team. We need to start aiming to win the World Series. So I definitely think we're in position to be a playoff team and more than that."
The Tigers spent about $225 million this offseason on three key acquisitions: shortstop Javy Baez, starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez and veteran catcher Tucker Barnhart. They'll join a core of young talent in Detroit that played winning baseball over the final five months of last season and finished with a winning record against playoff teams.
Mize said he was "pumped about" the addition of Barnhart, who's "going to be a leader for us behind the plate." He said he "can't wait to pick the brain" of Rodriguez, who's "pitched in some high-leverage situations and important games, and he's done it at a high level." As for Baez, the two-time All-Star and one of the most decorated shortstops in baseball over the last five years, Mize said, "We've all seen what Javy can do."
"He's a special talent, so I'm looking forward to watching him do some awesome things behind me (at shortstop) and in the (batter's) box," said Mize. "Those three acquisitions will make us better."
So will more growth on the part of Mize and Detroit's young pitching staff. Mize led the way last year with a 3.71 ERA over 30 starts, solid numbers for a rookie. But 'solid' won't cut it for him this year.
"I want to be a consistent great player," he said. "The most important thing to me is winning games and helping our team. If I do that at a high level, the individual stuff will come. I was definitely consistently good (last) year, but the goal is to be consistently great."
Same for the Tigers. Mize said moving forward, the aspirations are World Series or bust.
"I just don't understand why you would want to shoot for less," he said. "I really don't understand why you'd be happy with losing a wild card game. I don't get that."
Echoing the words of his manager A.J. Hinch, with whom he developed a close relationship last season, Mize said the Tigers are "going to aim as high as we can to win today's game, and the long-term stuff will take care of itself."
"Win at all costs today," he said. "That's really all that matters. With the ultimate goal of winning the World Series, I don't think you're satisfied with anything less. Why else would you play?"