Tagged: Tigers

AL Central

Note: a “straight
run differential projection” is based on a team’s actual runs scored and
runs allowed.  A “component runs projected” is based on
basic runs created and component ERA without the adjustment to make it an ERA figure (i.e. IP and
the multiplication by 9 not included).  I then applied the
with an exponent of

In American League Central
Division news, the supine Pirates and the battling Braves combined to help
knock a couple of games off the margin between the second-place Tigers and the
division leading Twins.  The White Sox may yet make a move, but whether
it’s towards the division lead or in the trade market remains an open question.
 The Royals and the Indians appear a bit lost, but more on that below.



The Indians are 25-40
with a .385 winning percentage, 12.5 games behind the division lead.  They
are 11th in the AL in scoring at 4.25 runs/game, and they are 12th in the AL in
run prevention at 5.05 runs allowed per game.  Their straight run differential
projection is for 65 wins with a .404 winning percentage; their component run
projection puts them with 61 wins and a .378 winning percentage.  Cover
your eyes, Indians fans, it kind of gets worse from here.

Over the past two
weeks, the Indians are 6-8 and, though things were looking up as they went 6-5
over the first eleven games of that stretch, they just got
 swept by the Mets.  In fact, the Tribe has dropped four straight games.
 (Informally and on a sad note: the curse of Rocky Colavito sure is living
on.)  In the last fourteen games, the Indians have scored 80 runs, 5.71
runs/game, which is impressive, and they have allowed 69 runs in that stretch
(4.93 runs allowed per game).  They have been unlucky, since they scored
11 more runs in the past two weeks than they’ve allowed, but, on the other
hand, they have “wasted” some other offensive output, winning two
blowouts, 10-1 over the White Sox and 11-0 over Red Sox.  Outside of those
two games, and over the other twelve, they have scored 59 and allowed 68, which
projects out to a .429 winning percentage, or about two games under .500 over
that stretch, which mirrors their actual record.  Clearly, however, their
runs scoring and run prevention has been better over the past two weeks has
been better than it has been over the season as a whole.  I don’t know if
this a reason to be optimistic in Cleveland, as their component run
differential is pretty sad (a net [that is runs scored – runs allowed] of -86
versus -66 in the actual runs scored vs. runs allowed figures), which bodes ill
for the future.  And then there’s that whole Rocky Colavito thing…(hey,
I’m a Twins fan, and I still hate Frank Lane just for Cleveland’s–and Terry

The Indians’ upcoming
schedule has them headed to Pittsburgh–which, given the pathetic, Orioles-like
mess that is the Pirates, could help the Tribe out–then on to Philadelphia and
Cincinnati before retuning home to face the Blue Jays in bringing June to a

Indians fans may again
want to hide their eyes, for the Royals have quietly crept out of the cellar
and passed them for fourth place in the division.  In fact, it looks like
Cleveland will be preparing for the old player roulette once again; that is,
they will likely be dealing, and Matt Kaassen at FanGraphs
 makes the case for just such action.  John Parent also makes the argument, and I really like the
idea of Russell Branyan going to the Angels.  

Rookie catcher Carlos
Santana has experienced both the
 good and bad in his first week of Major League experience.
Mitch Talbot is experiencing some growing pains, though he’s been one of the few real rays of sunshine in
Cleveland so far this season, aside from the awesome and underrated
 Shin-Soo Choo.  My problem with Talbot is his, well, terrible K/BB rate.

Finally, after
watching Sunday’s game, Is there
 trouble with the mound in Progressive Field? 



The Royals are 29-38,
with a .433 winning percentage, 9.5 games behind the division lead.
 Despite having an exceptional team batting average (.278 to lead the AL),
they are only 8th in the AL in scoring at 4.62 runs per game.  They are
13th in AL in run prevention at 5.14 runs allowed per game.  Their
straight run differential projection is for 72 wins and a .445 winning
percentage, with a component run projection of also 72 runs and a .445 winning
percentage.  Hey, the Royals actual run differential and component run
differential actually match up.

Over the past two
weeks the Royals are 7-6.  They have scored 74 runs, or 5.69 runs per
game, while they’ve allowed 67 runs, which would 5.15 runs allowed per game.
 First of all, their run prevention is as consistently bad as it had been
all season.  Second, while their offense appears to have performed much
better over the past two weeks, they
 did put 15 on the board in just one of those
games, meaning they scored 59 in the other twelve games, or slightly less than
5 per game.  With their consistently dismal run prevention, it is actually
quite impressive that they are over .500 in the last two weeks.  Having
crept out of the cellar and passed the Indians for fourth place in the
division, the Royals’ month-ending series with the White Sox may have some
(small) significance, most likely for trade-market activity by one or both of
those teams later this summer.

The Royals’ upcoming
schedule takes them first to Atlanta for the weekend before traveling to
Washington; they will then return home to face the Cardinals and the White Sox
to end the month of June.

Fortunately for the
Royals and their woeful run prevention,
 Zach Greinke may be getting back on track.  With the Royals actually giving him some run support
Greinke might well chalk up more wins for Kansas City.  Greinke will start
Sunday in Atlanta against their unknown new rotation piece,
 Kris Medlen

Most of the news out
of and/or concerning the Royals, however, concerns their
 willingness to deal.  GM Dayton Moore apparently said he expects to be busy.  One point of concern will be maximizing
the value the Royals can get for David DeJesus
.  Matt Klaassen considers what the Royals should do, and it makes for some bleak reading since
the best piece Klaassen identifies as potential trade-bait is the Royals pride
and joy, closer
 Joakim Soria.



The Tigers are 34-29
with a .554 winning percentage.  The 1.5 games behind the division lead.
 They are 9th in the AL in scoring at 4.41 runs/game, and they are 5th in
the AL in run prevention allowing 4.40 runs per game.  The Tigers’ straight
run differential projection is 86 wins and a .532 winning percentage; their
component run projection is for 89 wins and a .550 winning percentage.  

Over the past two
weeks, the Tigers are 9-4, and they’ve scored 73 runs (5.63 runs/game) while
allowing 60 runs or 4.62 runs allowed per game.  One thing to consider is
that they allowed 15 runs in one of their losses, meaning that if we exclude
that game they have allowed an average of 3.75 runs/game over that two week
period.  The Tiger are hot, the
 winners of six straight, and they have been scoring a lot more runs per game and
allowing a lot fewer than they have over the season as a whole. 

The Tigers’ upcoming
schedule has them hosting Arizona this weekend; the D-Backs  that just got
swept by Boston.  Following that series, the Tigers visit the Mets, Braves
and Twins to finish June.  Now,
 that’s a challenging road-trip.  Leyland will be chaining
them down for the duration.

In their last win, the
Tigers got both a strong start from Jeremy Bonderman while also
 bashing 19 hits.  Bonderman’s strong performance in their latest win must
be encouraging for both the Tigers and their fans, for given that they trail
the Twins by only a game and a half, consistent pitching from another starting
pitcher would be a happy sign.  

In a surprising item,
one that defies the baseball conventional wisdom as filtered to us by color
analysts and lazy columnists,
 Jim Leyland completely dissed the concept of team chemistry in
a fashion–and language–that reminds of certain sabermetric analysis that
similarly disses that unmeasurable intangible–clubhouse chemistry–in almost
the same terms.



The Twins are 38-20
with a winning percentage of .576, and they lead the AL Central Division,
though their lead is down to only 1.5 games.  They are 5th in the AL in
scoring with 4.75 runs/game, and they are 2nd in the AL in run prevention
allowing only 3.88 runs/game.  The Twins’ straight run differential
projection is 94 wins and a .582 winning percentage.  Their component run
projection is 90 wins and a .558 winning percentage.  Component run
projections thus have the Twins and Tigers neck-and-neck for the division

Over the past two
weeks the Twins are 7-6, scoring 54 runs (4.15 runs/game) while allowing 50
runs (3.85 runs/game).  So, the offense has been down over the past two
weeks, and while
 Delmon Young has
had a great June (.937 OPS) so far, both
 Denard Span (.526
 and Joe Mauer (.773 OPS which isn’t bad, but it’s not Joe
Mauer-ish) have not, and in the absence of Orlando Hudson, the second spot in
the lineup has been
 absolutely awful, and is a glaring concern.  The upcoming schedule has the
Twins on the road versus Philadelphia, Milwaukee and the New York Mets before
they return home to close the month by hosting the currently second-place
Detroit Tigers.

While Francisco Liriano has been spectacular, and while there has also been some talk
among the Twins’ faithful regarding
 whether or not Liriano deserves to start the All-Star Game, Liriano was outdueled by Rockies’ super-stud Ubaldo Jimenez on Thursday morning.   Scott Baker overcame some recent
inconsistency to
 pitch a true gem on Wednesday night, contributing a mammoth .430 WPA as the Twins edged the Rockies 2-1.

The Twins are currently sizing up their needs entering summer and the heart of the pennant
race.  One rumor making the rounds is whether or not the Twins should
pursue Mike Lowell of the Boston Red Sox;
 Aaron Gleeman ponders here, noting that’s he’d be a definite upgrade over what the Twins
have now, while
 Parker Hageman discusses over here, noting that Target Field will not help
Lowell’s power figures at all.

If you’re curious
about the Twins’ organization’s position players,
 this may be helpful, and if you’re curious about the organization’s pitchers, this might help.



The White Sox are
31-34, with a .477 winning percentage, and they are 6.5 games behind in the
division  They are 10th in the AL in scoring at 4.33 runs/game, and also
10th in the AL in run prevention at 4.76 runs allowed per game.  Their
straight run differential projection is for 76 wins with a .471 wining
percentage, while their component run projection is for 74 wins and a .455
winning percentage.

Over the past two
weeks, the White Sox are 9-4, including taking 2 of 3 from the Tigers, 2 of 3
from the Cubs, and sweeping the supine Pirates in their last three series. They
have scored 64 runs (4.92 runs/game) and they have allowed 50 runs (3.75 runs
allowed per game) over that period of time.  Clearly they have been
 much  better at scoring and preventing runs
over the past two weeks than over the season as a whole.  This improved
performance is the likely cause for GM Ken Williams walking back earlier
indications that he might be willing to turn over the roster, and his recent
indication that he’ll
 stand pat rather than trading pieces off.  (Williams is also downplaying reports of friction between him and manager Ozzie Guillen.)

Chicago’s upcoming
schedule has them heading to Washington, where they will have the delight of
facing Stephen Strasburg on Friday; they will then return home to host the
Braves and the Cubs before heading to Kansas City to end the month of June.

The White Sox would like to see Carlos Quentin return to his 2008 form.
 In other quarters, however, there is a question as to
 whether Quentin’s career can be saved at all.

While Quentin has been
surprisingly bad,
 Alex Rios has also been a surprise as
he’s been performing extremely well.  

In bad news, Jake
Peavy has been experiencing
 right shoulder pain.  

For their sake, Peavy needs to be healthy, for the Sox have a chance towards the end of the month the pick up some ground on the division leaders, for the face reeling Washington, the Cubs, and the Royals over the same period of time that the Tigers have to face tough teams including the Twins.





The Tigers’ Fielding: How Bad Is It?

All season, any broadcast of a Tigers’ game
that I’ve seen has included commentary regarding how bad the Tigers’ fielding
is.  What I’m wondering is how bad they actually are compared to other
teams.  I was inspired to ask this question because yesterday I wrote about the Brewers’ inability
to prevent runs, and I found that it isn’t merely bad pitching that has been
hurting them (the Brewers), but also awful defense.

The Tigers have the most errors in the American League,
34, the second-most in the Majors behind the Marlins, who have 36.  The
Major League average is 26 errors, but the Yankees (17), Giants (16), and Twins
(9) are all far below that number, which makes the spread pretty large between

The Tigers’ fielding
percentage–boo and hiss for this lame measure–is second worst in the Majors
at .978, .001 ahead of the Marlins’ terrible .977.  The Major League
average is .983.  

However, and here’s
where things get interesting, under the microscope of advanced measures the
Tigers defense doesn’t look so bad.  Their Total Zone Fielding Runs Above
Average (from
has them as a 4, a
 positive four, which has them tied for the fifth highest spot in
the Majors.  

Their Defensive
Efficiency Ratio is in the lower half of the Majors, and  at .681 it
places them 23rd out of the thirty teams.

So, they are saving
more runs than average, according to Total Zone Fielding Runs Above Average,
but they are converting batted balls into outs (DER) at a lower than average
rate.  Hmm.  Could it be possible that while they don’t get to as
many batted balls the average Major League club they are getting to critical
balls, ones that if not gotten to runs could score?  Maybe, but I haven’t
done the work necessary–picking through the play by play results–to actually
reach any such conclusion.

So what about Runs
Allowed?  The Tigers are allowing 4.41 runs/game, which is .10 better than
the MLB average of 4.51 runs allowed per game.  Their team ERA of 4.08 is
.11 better than the MLB ERA of 4.19, implying, a little bit, that they have
given up more unearned runs per 9 IP than the MLB average.  Well, we
already knew they have committed a lot of errors, which are leading cause of
unearned runs (and maybe even tooth decay).

When we look at the
 Range Runs, the number
of runs above or below average fielder are determined  by how the fielders
are able to get to balls hit in their vicinity, we see that the Tigers, at
16.3, are the
 fourth best in the Majors.  Additionally, the Tigers
UZR/150 (Ultimate Zone Rating
150 games) of 6.9 is the
 fifth best in the Majors, at 10.8, trailing only San Francisco
(13.0), San Diego (12.6), Arizona (9.4), and Tampa Bay (8.0).

In other words,
extrapolating from the number of errors the Tigers have made to larger
conclusions about their lack of defensive abilities simply isn’t supported by
the rest of the fielding data available to us.  While it may be the case
that fielding simply can’t be captured by quantitative analysis, that remains a
debatable question which doesn’t shed any light on the subject at hand.
 What we have, instead, are data points that are all over the place,
although it seems to me that the data actually suggests that there is little
connection between the number of errors a team makes and its actual abilities
in the field to prevent runs.  

Again, I emphasize
that I have not done the necessary work to reach any firm conclusions on this
matter, but merely aim to suggest that, in the case of the 2010 Tigers,
traditional fielding metrics (number of errors, fielding percentage) do a very
poor job of capturing the essence of fielding abilities.

The only other thing I’m convinced of is this: their fielding is better than the Brewers’.  

Premier Pitching Matchup in the Motor City

C. C. Sabathia will pitch for the Yankees today, while Justin Verlander will start for the Tigers, in the final game of a four-game series.  The Tigers have won two of the first three.

Although Verlander’s numbers look kind of “meh” we all know he’s a better pitcher than that ERA figure, and when we were all sitting around evaluating pitching talent during Spring Training, deciding which of these two guys was the better one took a lot of time and effort.  Verlander’s peripherals aren’t terrible, although his K rate is down and his BB rate is up (meaning his K/BB ratio is moving in the wrong direction).  What is interesting is that his groundball rate is slightly up, his flyball rate slightly down, and his HR/flyball rate is also slightly down.  Hmm.  What does this mean?  Perhaps it’s a slight lack of command.  Perhaps I am full of it.
For his part, Sabathia has looked pretty solid thus far, Saturday’s rain-deluged affair in Boston notwithstanding.  But there may be some troubles lurking.  Like Verlander, his K rate is down and his BB rate up, with the K/BB ratio declining.  And while his grounball % is up vs. his career rate, you should take note that his BABIP against is historically low, .050 lower than last season, and nearly .060 lower than his career rate.  He’s giving a lower rate of line drives this season, which is good, since his HR/flyball rate is the highest of his career and well out of line with his performance the last four or five seasons.  Another slight lack of command, perhaps?  I don’t know, but it does make you wonder.
I detest the Yankees, but I can’t really cheer for the Tigers (and I have both these starting pitchers in some fantasy league somewhere), so I guess I will tune in via MLB TV on my computer and cheer for a good, old-fashioned pitcher’s duel.  However, I must note that the Yankees lineup has an advantage relative to Verlander as they are patient, see tons of pitcher per plate appearance, and he has issues with his pitch count, having had a couple of starts where he was brushing up against 125 pitches by the fifth inning.
At any rate, consider this an interesting game and have a fine Thursday.
UPDATE: Verlander is holding up his end, holding the Yankees scoreless through 4 innings, while Sabathia can’t get Brandon Boesch out (double, homer, 2 runs) and Cabrera launched a moon ball out to right.  Tigers 3, Yankees 0, bottom of four.
UPDATE 2: This just reiterates the first update: Verlander with 6 2/3 shutout innings and Sabathia with 6 ER in his 6 IP.  Their ERA’s are converging.  Sabathia again demonstrates problems with gopher balls, surrendering back-to-back jacks in Comerica Park (!) on a day when the wind was blowing straight in from center(!!).  

Double-Header Wednesday

Due to bad weather in Denver and Detroit yesterday, there are 17 Major League games scheduled for Wednesday, with two doubleheaders on tap, the first between the Yankees and Tigers and the second between the Phillies and Rockies.

In Game One in Detroit, the Tigers shutout the Yankees, behind strong pitching from Rick Porcello (7 IP, 4 H, 3 BB, 0 R), who took a liner off his shoulder but stayed in the game, Rick Perry (1 IP, 0 H, 0 BB), and Jose Valverde, who, while walking Posada, managed to close out the 9th, walking one, but then coming back to strike out Nick Swisher to end it.
Once again, as a Twins fan, I can’t emphasize how torn I am watching the Tigers and Yankees: I don’t want Detroit to catch the Twins, but I also don’t like watching the Yankees win.