When bad teams attack

The Tigers turned in another disappointing performance against a team they should beat. Last night’s ugly game against a last place team just signifies that the Tigers aren’t a good team and can’t compete. Afterall, teams that are serious about being contenders beat up on the lesser teams – and anything less than a sweep is unacceptable.

[In case anybody missed it, that last paragraph was sarcasm. Well, except for the part about the ugly game, because it was in fact ugly. Oh yeah, and there maybe more sarcasm coming up so be on the lookout - I'm feeling feisty.]

Detroit’s record against the 3 AL last place teams is a lowly 13-8 for a .619 winning percentage. Good teams would have gone at least .650. Just look at AL East leader Boston who is…oh wait, they’re only 11-7.

Well, what about AL West leader the Angels of various cities? Uh, nevermind because they are 11-7 also.

Ummm, let’s look at the streaking Oakland A’s – the current wild card leader. Surely they are a contender and they have posted…a 13-8 record? That’s the same as the Tigers?!

Okay, just one more. What about the vaunted and hated Yankees. They’re only a half game behind Oakland, still in the thick of the wild card hunt. I’ll be darned – they actually have a losing record at 7-11.

Annoyed yet? Yeah, me to. But the fact remains that out of the top 5 teams in the American League, only the White Sox at 16-5 have a better record against the 3 last place teams than the Tigers. Does this mean the Tigers are as good as those other teams? Of course not. In fact, it might mean that the Tigers current record has been built up by beating on weaklings. The point I’m trying to make is that even good teams lose to bad teams. Don’t read too much into this series loss.

Sure, I would have much preferred to see the Tigers take another series, and winning in Oakland will prove to be a daunting task. Oakland is probably looking at this series as one they should win – much in the same way that Tiger fans were banking on winning in September Seattle (EDIT: Well that was a Freudian slip-or the baseball equivalent-if I ever saw one). Maybe the Tigers can in turn surprise Oakland.

Monroe’s Gaffe
Craig Monroe’s error was awful last night. There is no getting around it. However, these things happen. In fact, Gold Glove centerfielder Torii Hunter did the exact same thing in a game against Detroit earlier this year. Monroe’s error was costly, but it was costly because Mike Maroth struggled to throw strikes. Craig has done a very good job playing all 3 outfield positions this season and I’m not too worried about him making an error.

What is a little more disturbing is that this is Monroe’s second lapse in the last week. Against Minnesota he forgot how many outs there were and ran into a double play on a fly ball. These may be random events that just happened to occur within a week. Or Monroe may be mentally fatigued. I have a hard time speculating about the soft tough like mental toughness, but the two plays are troublesome nonetheless.

12 Comments

  1. Joe

    July 28, 2005 at 10:42 pm

    While it’s true that Boston, Oakland, NYY and the Angels don’t necessarily beat up on lesser teams, they DO beat up on teams as good as them or better, usually. It’s not about what the other teams do. It’s about what the Tigers, only 5 games back of a playoff spot, must do to reach that goal. Why not make the job a little easier by kicking KC and Seattle’s ass?

  2. Jeff M

    July 28, 2005 at 11:27 pm

    Joe,

    Sounds great in theory, but baseball is as much as a game of chance as it is a game of skill. There’s a saying (someone here will surely correct my memory) that goes something along the lines of: every team will win 40 games and lose 40 games. The difference lies in the remaining 80 games.

    On any given day, a team can win or lose to any other team. That’s why they play 162 to determine the top 8 teams and even then, they have to square off and slug it out for up to 21 more games.

    Obviously, the Tigers aren’t on par with the elite teams, as they have had to scrape and claw just to stay near .500. But considering all the injuries they’ve endured, it’s not completely absurd to believe there’s an outside chance of them possibly making a run now that they’re fairly healthy. How’s that for hedging? :-)

  3. Joe

    July 28, 2005 at 11:46 pm

    I agree with most of that, and I’m not suggesting the Tigers win every game, or that they should have even won last night. But citing a meaningless stat about how Boston and Oakland do against the bottom three teams in the AL hardly has any relevance to the Tigers.

  4. Jeff M

    July 29, 2005 at 12:13 am

    You’re right that it says nothing in particular about the Tigers. I believe Billfer meant it as a preemptive strike against all of the writers that were going to point at the Seattle and KC serieses (sp?) as evidence that the Tigers aren’t ready for primetime yet.

    They probably aren’t ready for primetime yet, but it’s still wrong to conclude that based on such a small sample size.

  5. Doug

    July 29, 2005 at 12:31 am

    “While it’s true that Boston, Oakland, NYY and the Angels don’t necessarily beat up on lesser teams, they DO beat up on teams as good as them or better, usually.”

    Really? Here are the records of these teams versus AL teams over .500:

    LAA 33-26

    Oak 32-30

    Bos 30-31

    NYY 29-27

    Yeah, they usually beat up on them all right.

  6. Luke

    July 29, 2005 at 2:20 am

    Injuries have killed us… we’ve shown in the last week that with our ‘A’ lineup we can take series from the best teams in our division and stay close with them even in our losses (chicago, minnesota). The oakland series should be interestinng, if we win the series or even one game and stay close in the other two i’m pretty happy about where we are right now because they are the hottest team in baseball right now.

    And now that i think about it we didn’t beat chicago and minnesota with our best lineup because polanco was out… either way this oakland series should be good.

  7. Boston Fan in Michigan

    July 29, 2005 at 12:51 pm

    Guys guys guys. You’re all missing the point. The IMPORTANT bit is that Billfer is venturing into sarcastic blogging. I think this is cause for wild celebration. Party like we finish the season at .500, baby!

  8. billfer

    July 29, 2005 at 1:08 pm

    “But citing a meaningless stat about how Boston and Oakland do against the bottom three teams in the AL hardly has any relevance to the Tigers.”

    And that is exactly what I was trying to point out – that it is a meaningless stat.

    I am however discouraged that the Tigers have sprinkled some horrible games in amidst what has otherwise been pretty good baseball as of late.

    I’ve been trying to downplay the importance of the recent series – but this one coming with Oakland could be huge. They could find themselves 8 games out of the wild card by Sunday night, or they could be only 2 back of Oakland. The most probably scenario is that they either gain or lose a single game, but a sweep in either direction would significantly impact this team.

  9. Joey the K

    July 29, 2005 at 1:58 pm

    I was at the series in Seattle and the last game of the series was tough. Of course the fans were giving Monroe really tough time, but one thing I had to laugh at: Monroe was in the on deck circle and some heckler yells “Hey Monroe, try not to drop your bat!”

  10. Joe

    July 29, 2005 at 4:29 pm

    In response to Doug’s point about how Boston apparently doesn’t beat good teams at a great clip either:

    Well, that’s good news for the Tigers then, since because good teams apparently don’t beat good OR bad teams, then the Tigers don’t have to worry about it!

    Right now, the only stat of any import is how many wins and losses we have. We have fewer wins than Oakland, New York and the other wildcard contenders. Every game is therefore crucial. So thus, I’m not sure of your point, other than to simply prove my statement wrong. It doesn’t really say anything about the state of the Tigers though.

    Billfer: We certainly are in agreement about the stat’s usefulness. I guess from my reading of your post, you were dismissing the poor play in Seattle as unimportant. You are very right to say that this Oakland series COULD be huge. It would already be huge had we played better against Seattle.

    It is of course wrong to assume that just because the Tigers play inferior teams, that they should win every time out. But when it’s almost August, and you are very much in the hunt for the wildcard despite all odds, you have to take the opportunities given to you, and games against Seattle and Kansas City have opportunity written all over them.

  11. joey

    July 29, 2005 at 4:35 pm

    Right. The difference isn’t their freaking record against losing teams. I couldn’t care about what our record is against losing teams. The difference is that all the other teams you mentioned have winning records. And because the Tigs dropped the series against Seattle, the chances are they will stay have a losing record when they leave Oakland. The fact that Seattle is a last place team is entirely irrelevant.

    It’s not that I’m looking at the Seattle series and saying, “well we lost that one! We suck!” I’m looking at it in relation to the entire season, and it looks like a continuation of a trend of dropping games we need to win in order to get over the hump. If we had swept the Mariners would the Oakland series still have the potential to be huge? Probably not as much as it does now.

    But I’m sure you’re right. The Tigers are clearly a much better record than they’re flirtation with the holy grail mark of .500 baseball would indicate. No doubt that they’ll finish the season 41-20 and win the wildcard.

  12. joey

    July 29, 2005 at 4:35 pm

    Right. The difference isn’t their freaking record against losing teams. I couldn’t care about what our record is against losing teams. The difference is that all the other teams you mentioned have winning records. And because the Tigs dropped the series against Seattle, the chances are they will stay have a losing record when they leave Oakland. The fact that Seattle is a last place team is entirely irrelevant.

    It’s not that I’m looking at the Seattle series and saying, “well we lost that one! We suck!” I’m looking at it in relation to the entire season, and it looks like a continuation of a trend of dropping games we need to win in order to get over the hump. If we had swept the Mariners would the Oakland series still have the potential to be huge? Probably not as much as it does now.

    But I’m sure you’re right. The Tigers are clearly a much better record than they’re flirtation with the holy grail mark of .500 baseball would indicate. No doubt that they’ll finish the season 41-20 and win the wildcard.