Reader Mark Auman sent me a note last Tuesday following the Tigers 10-4 win over the Indians. Despite splitting the series with Cleveland, the Tigers were struggling. Here is what Mark pointed out:
Exactly how does a team hitting .286 (even with Norton’s marvelous .045)
happen to lose four of its next six games?
They’re breaking three basic rules that pitching coaches stress:
1. GET THE LEADOFF MAN OUT: In the last 61 innings, Tiger pitchers have
allowed the leadoff man to reach base 26 times. And that team has scored
19 times. In fact, the leadoff man himself has scored 18 runs.
2. DON’T PUT THE NO. 9 GUY ON BASE: In the last seven games, opposition
No. 9 batters are hitting .500 (12-for-24), have reached base 17 times
and have scored six runs.
3. DON’T PUT THE NO. 1 GUY ON BASE: In the last seven games, opposition
No. 1 batters are hitting .433 (13-for-30), have reached base 20 times
and have scored 11 runs.
Against Toronto, Robertson allowed only three leadoff batters to reach
(which led to all five runs) and Belliard’s leadoff double in the first
last night led to Cleveland’s first run. However, Cleveland’s other
three runs were manufactured without the leadoff man reaching, which has
Maroth only allowed the leadoff man on twice (leading to Cleveland’s
only run) in his win.
Since the last game in Minnesota, the Tigers pitchers have been doing better only allowing 12 runs in the last 4 games. I took a look at how the Tigers fared on these three items during that stretch
1. GET THE LEADOFF MAN OUT: The Tigers allowed the leadoff man to reach base in 13 of the last 36 innings, which is 36% of the time. This is a modest improvement over the 43% they were allowing.
2. DON’T PUT THE NO. 9 GUY ON BASE: In the last 4 games the 9 hitter has gone 3 for 12 with one walk, one sacrifice and only scored one run.
2. DON’T PUT THE NO. 1 GUY ON BASE: In the last 4 games the number 1 hitter has gone 4-16 with one walk, and only one run scored.
The Tigers improved in their performance on all three measures. Now the question becomes are these three items indicators of success or failure? Or did the Tigers just perform better in general. I didn’t check to see how the other hitters in the lineup compared between the two time periods, so I don’t know if the overall performance was better (I’d imagine it was). In my mind, I’d guess that item 1 would probably have the biggest impact, however that item had the smallest improvement of the three. Most disturbing was probably the 9 hitter getting on base over half the time.