Justin Verlander Thwarts Running Game
One of my favorite baseball columns is Dave Studemund’s “Ten Things I Didn’t Know Last Week” piece he writes for Hardball Times. This week’s column highlights just how hard it is to run on Justin Verlander. We know about his lightning quick pick-off move that has gunned down 5 victims. You may not know that only 1 base has successfully been stolen off of Verlander. What may be even more impressive is that only 4 runners have tried. So he has more pickoffs than attempted steals, which my intuition tells me is rare. What makes it all the more incredible is that he is doing it right handed. Those numbers are what you expect from the top southpaws.
Curtis is the clutchiest
Another tidbit from the same column points to a blog that looks at WPA data from Fangraphs and regular batting data to determine who has been “clutch” this year. It essentially looks at what a batter’s line would typically contribute in terms of wins, and compares it to WPA wins.
For the Tigers Curtis Granderson has contributed 1.462 wins more than his batting line would indicate making him the clutchiest Tiger so far. At -1.2 Chris Shelton has been least clutch. In a strange twist, Placido Polanco has been the second clutchest Tiger. While his WPA total is only .329 wins, his overall poor offensive contributions are good for -.618 wins. So Polanco is making the most of the offense he has provided.
Cameron Maybin likes the opposite field
First, he pulls the ball less than the average right handed hitter, and less than he hits it to right field. On balls hit in the air, only 7% have gone to left or left center while 15% have gone to right or right center.
Second, he is really putting his speed to work. He is hitting .422 on ground balls hit to the left side where the average right hander hits .258. In Maybin’s case that is an additional 7 hits more than the typical player.
Third, the man hasn’t bunted yet this year.
The Tigers don’t need a position player
Nate Silver wrote a very interesting piece at Baseball Prospectus that took a look at the big 3 bats available (Bobby Abreu, Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Lee) and the 7 teams that would have a shot at acquiring them. The piece is premium so I’ll just give you cliff notes (but really a subscription to BP is something you should consider).
Silver looked at what the incremental gain would be of adding said player over what that player would be replacing. The Tigers are expected to get more production from Monroe/Thames/Young than any of the other contenders are getting in their current situations. This means that while any of the 3 would be an upgrade, it would be less of an upgrade for the Tigers (who are actually getting slightly above average production).
Second, he took a look to see which teams had the most to gain in terms of securing a playoff spot. Because the Tigers are already at 95% to make the playoffs, the incremental value of adding anyone is pretty small.
The bottom line is that from this analysis the Tigers have very little to gain by acquiring one of these players – at least in terms of making it to the playoffs.
Now this is just one analysis and is dependent on players performing like they would be expected to perform, and it doesn’t take into account the psychological aspects of adding or not adding to a team. But it is interesting nonetheless.