Making Room for Marcus

He’s leading the team in homers with 23 despite having only 289 at-bats. He’s one of only three Tigers with slugging percentages north of .500 and the only one with an OPS above .900. And yet Marcus Thames can’t get regular playing time on a team that has been struggling to score runs with any sort of consistency.

You see, Thames picked an unfortunate time to go into a little slump back in July. His struggles happened to coincide with Craig Monroe launching into the most prolific offensive surge of his career, as well as the return of Dmitri Young. Below are the 3 players respective July numbers:

Player	 AB	  BA	 OBA	 SPct
Monroe 	89	.348	.366	.618
Thames 	66	.197	.274	.409
Young  	30	.367	.394	.767

Thames struggles made it tough for him to crack the lineup in anything more than a platoon situation. Now even has he’s pulling out of his funk, Young and Monroe are still going strong. So how does Thames get back in the lineup? Here’s a look at those 3, plus one more, for the month of August (today’s game not included):

Player		AB	BA	OBA	SPct
Monroe 		94	.309	.369	.606
Thames 		39	.231	.318	.564
Young 		60	.317	.359	.517
Ordonez 	91	.264	.316	.374

I know that in the real world, Marcus Thames isn’t going to take Magglio Ordonez out of the lineup. Especially with both players being right handed there isn’t even the perceived platoon advantage. (I say perceived because 30% of his homers have come against southpaws while 37% of his at-bats have come against lefties. And that’s just a counting stat, his rate stats are better versus righties also. Of course sample size issues abound, but take the numbers for what they are.). Ordonez does have a long track record of success, but as Rod Allen pointed out today he’s “playing pepper with the left side of the infield.”

Until Ordonez gets things figured out, maybe he should get a couple more days off here and there, if only to get Thames bat in the lineup once more a week.

18 Comments

  1. Chris J

    August 27, 2006 at 9:19 pm

    Bilfer, you’re right on, but sadly we know the deck is stacked against Thames for whatever reason. It’s frustrating.

  2. Tim D

    August 27, 2006 at 9:32 pm

    At this point Thames should be getting ABs ahead of either Young or Ordonez. Sitting him against RHS is a terrible idea. He has hit RHS BETTER than left, better than anybody on the team. He is no gazelle in the OF but is a far better option at this point than Ordonez who is awful in RF. Thames in LF and Monroe in RF would be a better defensive lineup. The way Ordonez is going HE is the one who ought to be platooning with Young. Leyland scores high on the intangibles list but his lineup choices frequently stink. Neifi at leadoff? Bleccchhhh.

  3. Kyle J

    August 27, 2006 at 10:02 pm

    As stated in today’s game thread, I’m willing to cut Leyland some slack on sitting Thames vs. right-handers–especially in light of how well Monroe and Young have been hitting. A few additional points:

    1) Giving Ordonez more days off makes a lot of sense. There’s been some speculation (I forget where I heard this) that his batting slump has been a result of his knee bothering him.

    2) To expand the sample size a bit, Thames was a lot better against left-handers (.260/.335/.462) than against right-handers (.193/.268/.398) over the last three years coming into this season. Obviously, he seems like a whole new hitter this year, but I don’t think you can discount past performance completely.

    3) Fun fact: Thames’ full name is Marcus Markey Thames.

  4. Michael

    August 27, 2006 at 11:56 pm

    Billfer,

    I’ve been saying it ever since Higgenson was taken north instead of Thames. Thames should be in the lineup every day. He needs regular at bats. Whop know what this guy could really be given the chance. We know what Young and Ordonez are…aged players in decline. Who knows…given a full season of atbats, thames could be to the tigers what Dye is to the white sox. My fear is that we will never see.

    Free Omar and play Thames!!!!!!

  5. Michael

    August 27, 2006 at 11:59 pm

    Billfer,

    one note. You said that “Thames picked an unfortunate time to go into a little slump back in July.” The only thing wrong with that is that the minute Young came back from the DL THames began to sit. He slump didnt happen until his playing time was cut. He then struggled in Pinch-hitting roles and in spot starting. The book on Thames has always been, if he gets regualr at bats he will produce. Its a shame that the tigers have ignored that. i do appreciate the post on Thames.

  6. Kurt

    August 28, 2006 at 1:28 am

    I like Thames as much as the next guy. I’d rather he had stayed in the lineup rather than DY come back to the team. And honestly there’s times I’d rather they both be in the lineup rather than Sean Casey. But Thames’ stats were starting to slide way before DY got the callup. His July average was 200 and OPS 683. He only homered in two games. With DY hitting the ball and the *perceived* lefty-righty advantage, there wasn’t really a spot for Thames. Fortunately he seems to have it back together. It’s a good spot to be in, or a bad spot. On the bright side, there’s some depth. On the other hand, every move gets guessed because the unknown is always seen as preferable to the known.

    I wouldn’t mind Magglio getting a day or two off, much as I cringe at Thames’ fielding. Then again, Magglio’s no gold glover either.

    And I’m with you on the “Free Infante,” Michael, although a lot more low key member of the club. He hasn’t made a real strong case, it’s just Neifi seems to have made no case at all. But today I was working on my preferred lineup and it had both Thames and Infante, you’d be glad to know.

    Still I don’t think Thames would ever be Dye.

  7. Miguelito

    August 28, 2006 at 3:01 am

    Bilfer, thanks for the post on Thames, you make some very good points at just the right time. We’ll need thames bat in the lineup down the stretch to win the Central. He has earned the chance to play every day. I hope he takes Johnson deep twice in the Bronx this week. Though Leyland will probably pinch-hit for him when they bring in Proctor.

    And as I’m new to the site let me just tell you how much I enjoy a forum like this to discuss my beloved Tigers. You’ve created a wonderful thing here.

  8. billfer

    August 28, 2006 at 5:12 am

    Michael -
    He went 8 for 45 with 2 homers between July 4th and July 23rd while playing almost everyday. Young didn’t come back until the 21st. Thames was getting regular ABs and still slumping.

    Was it a horrible stretch – of course not. Have other players been given longer to work out of it – definitely.

    I’m just saying the mini slump started before Young was taking his playing time.

  9. Kyle J

    August 28, 2006 at 9:28 am

    “On the other hand, every move gets guessed because the unknown is always seen as preferable to the known.”

    Bingo.

  10. Lee Panas

    August 28, 2006 at 10:48 am

    Thames is in a tough spot right now. You can’t bench Monroe or Young the way they are hitting. And Ordonez won’t be benched for reasons other than production. Young’s inability to play 1B on occasion hurts too. With the way they are hitting Leyland needs to rotate Thames in there as much as possible though.

  11. michael

    August 28, 2006 at 11:07 am

    Well i think its fair to say that Thames july slump didnt quite match DY’s July slump…he was in Betty Ford!!!

    I will concede that thames hit a bump but all players do. Thats why no one hits .400. We really cannot say that Thames cant produce like Dye until Thames is given a full season of at bats…a season where he isnt jerked around. maybe he wont be a great hitter.. but right now we will never know until he is in there. we do know for a fact that DY and Magglio are in decline. Keep in mind that thames is getting old while he sits on the bench. He seems to be in his prime right now. Why waste him by sitting. magglio and Young are both past their prime… waay past. We are only into the second year of magglio’s gargantuan 5 year contract. Look for this contract to be a mega eye sore come the 4th year…. wooooowza! Leyland can get creative to get thames steady at bats. Teach him to play first base! let him give casey a rest now and then.

  12. michael

    August 28, 2006 at 11:09 am

    We are entering the sink or swim series with the yankees. it just so happens at the same time that the white sux and the twins both are sitting in the fabled cat-bird seat about to play K.C. and the Devil Rays. this is a mega series. we have to beat the big team while they beat up on crap.

  13. michael

    August 28, 2006 at 11:16 am

    I guess my point is this. Why isnt marcus allowed to have a slow month? Young had a horrid start to the year, choked his GF and went to Betty Ford. Monroe was very unproductive for the first few months of the season. he would run into a homer now and then but then would go 0-2 weeks. Monroe is a frustrating player. all throughout his career he has hit for low average, having carlos penaesque periods of futility, then he would have a hot 3 weeks and his job would be saved. he was off to one of those extended stints of futility at the begining of the year, but i will admit, he has had his best stretch of his career right now …at the right time. I have followed marcus through out his career and he has steadily thumped the ball and has that rare mix of power and patience. He always works the count. it just would seem that an organization would reward that. DY has no patience what so ever. yes he runs into a homer or a double now and then but he hits into too many double plays and seems to kill rallys more than he starts them.

  14. michael

    August 28, 2006 at 12:05 pm

    One more things! (thanks for listening by the way) When Thames is sitting why is he never used as a pinch hitter late in the game? As Earl Weaver said, you should never lose a game with a loaded gun on the bench. i think in one of those games over the weekend Nefi came up in the 8th inning representing the tying run. I think it was the game in which gullien was playing first. Thames could he pinch hit and gullien could have went to short with casey going to first. It is frightening how Leyland seems to refuse to use the power pinch hitter. if you have a bomber on the bench well then use him!

  15. Kyle J

    August 28, 2006 at 12:08 pm

    Would be interesting to know what PECOTA would project (accounting for performance to date this season) for Thames, Monroe, Young, and Ordonez over the rest of the season. Hard to judge how much weight to put on Thames stats early this year vs. the rest of his career.

    One thing that does weigh in Thames’ favor: his stats at Toledo the last two years. Lends credence to the theory advanced by some that he hits well when given regular at-bats.

    http://www.baseballprospectus......mema01.php

  16. Lou

    August 28, 2006 at 4:07 pm

    I’m most interested in what DD does in the offseason. I guess Dmitri will just walk. In 2 or 3 years, I think the projected outfield is Granderson, Clevlan, Maybin. So what do they do next year? I think they have to bite the bullet and trade Maggs (and probably pay a chunk of his salary to do it). That leaves them with a 4 person OF/DH rotation of Monroe, Granderson, Thames, and Clevlan. With Maybin being squeezed in as a mid-season call-up.

  17. michael

    August 28, 2006 at 4:18 pm

    Kyle

    I’m actually going to email Prospectus to see if they would like to weigh in on the Thames issue. Not sure why this hasnt been on their Radar. Thames is a unique case because he could be the only MLB player to lead his team in homers, slugging, and total bases who is not a full time player. I’m sure They would have an intresting take on Thames. They sure had a harsh take on the nefi perez trade….oooofff!

  18. Kyle J

    August 28, 2006 at 4:47 pm

    michael: Great idea. They can serve as our neutral arbitrator:)