Dombrowski speaks – a lot more than usual.

Dave Dombrowski held court with reporters today and he revealed a glimpse into this winter’s agenda.

The main points:

  • Edgar Renteria’s option will not be picked up
  • The Tigers are looking outside the organization to fill the closer role
  • The Tigers don’t expect to be a major player in the free agent market
  • Detroit does not expect to cut payroll significantly
  • Dombrowski likes Cale Iorg thinking he’s going to be an All Star very soon.

My thoughts:

  • Declining the Renteria option was pretty much a no brainer. The Tigers can try and sign him for less and offer him arbitration.  If he declines and is signed somewhere else the Tigers get two draft picks.  If he accepts it probably is a decent stopgap.  Renteria is a decent bet to bounce back somewhat and not be a void in the lineup.  While there is a desire to upgrade the defense at short, with Inge and mystery catcher in the fold the Tigers can’t afford to go with a total defensive specialist at short.  They have that at third already now.  Renteria sounds like he’d like to be back.
  • Dombrowski’s comments about Iorg were quite enthusiastic.  It could be he’s trying to up the trade value, or diminish the Tigers needs, but the remarks came on the same day that Iorg made the BA Top 20 list for the FSL. (Rick Porcello was number 1).  It makes one think the Tigers aren’t looking for a long term fix for 2009.
  • Rodney got a lukewarm treatment from Dombrowski saying that he’d be the leading candidate on the current club, but he wanted more consistency.  But with the Tigers not making a splash that probably means no K-Rod or Fuentes which is fine.  The new closer will likely be an established set-up man who can be had for a cheaper price.  It might not satisfy the fan base, but is probably the best and only way to go given the payroll constraints and ridiculous sum that closers get.

In the end Dombrowski is looking for answers like the rest of us…

“Most years, when we go into spring training, I have a good feel for where we’ll finish,” he said.

“I’m so far off on this,” he said, shaking his head, his voice trailing off.

132 Comments

  1. Mike R

    September 29, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    I was secretly fretting that we were going to do something insane like throw a ton of cash at K-Rod. So, hearing that we won’t is a good thing in my eyes.

  2. Anson

    September 29, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    So we’re not getting a ham sandwich for Edgar… well that’s disappointing.

  3. Steve

    September 29, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    I wonder if they wont make a run at K Rod. They suddenly appeared in the Miggy sweepstakes last year and had the signing cash to back it up. Its not like if they really wanted K-Rod they could put that in the press. It would only drive up the price.

    Lets see what DD does this winter. I think his mind set is to “Recover” from last years stinker trades on Renteria.

    Steve

  4. PHT in HK

    September 29, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    Okay, enough sorrow and complaining. Time to move on to next season.

    If they are looking for a closer from outside the system and don’t expect to be major players in the FA market, who gets traded? Most of the veterans are overpaid regardless of their performance, so they probably can’t be moved.

  5. Mike R

    September 29, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    Signing Francisco Rodriguez would be a worst mistake than the Nate Robertson, Brandon Inge, Edgar Renteria and Juan Gonzalez trades rolled into one. Count on it.

  6. Neal

    September 29, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    I was all for the quick demise of Renteria very early in the season. I just felt that with our lineup and pitching we needed a solid defensive SS, which Edgar is not.
    Now I agree with Billfer that we can’t go that route if we play Inge at 3rd. The problem is, aren’t we basically the same team as this year, but with a hole at Catcher, and the same pitching problems? Maybe more, since Justin shouldn’t really be considered a top tier pitcher based on his performance this year, and Jeremy won’t be back until sometime in May or so.
    I don’t K-Rod’s the answer, he will require a big investment, and while he’s been great, he is walking more guys than he ever has. I just think a 5 year contract (which is what it would probably take) is too much risk, even for a young closer.

  7. Mike R

    September 30, 2008 at 1:25 am

    Also, with the loss today, i believe this is how the top 16 picks in the draft will go next June:

    Final draft order for protected picks…

    1. Washington (59-102)
    2. Seattle (61-101) +1.5
    3. San Diego (63-99) +3.5
    4. Pittsburgh (67-95) +7.5
    5. Baltimore (68-93) +9
    6. San Francisco (72-90) +12.5
    7. Atlanta (72-90) +12.5
    8. Cincinnati (74-88) +14.5 (picked 7th last year for tiebreaker)
    9. Detroit (74-88) +14.5 (picked 20th last year for tiebreaker)
    9b (10). Washington (loss of Aaron Crow)
    11. Colorado (74-88) +14.5 (picked 25th last year for tiebreaker)
    12. Kansas City (75-87) +15.5
    13. Oakland (75-86) +16
    14. Texas (79-83) +19.5
    15. Cleveland (81-81) +21.5
    16. Arizona (82-80) +22.5

  8. Steve in Kzoo

    September 30, 2008 at 1:26 am

    Well I haven’t posted in a while as with many of the Tigers fans here. But I must post now that the off season has started and again early for the Tigers.

    First off not giving Edgar the option was the right call. However with Inge playing stellar 3rd next year we will need Renteria’s bat. And for him to get a good last multi-year deal of his career he is going to bounce back. I have yet to see Renteria have an off year followed by another bad year. So I call for a lesser arbitration contract for Renteria at SS next year.

    As for closer, i was thinking K-Rod but it seems like a risky investment and we have done enough of that (Willis, Gonzalez, Renteria, and Nate) so I believe that we wont get Fuentes nor K-Rod. We will get reliable reliever Steve Lyon I believe from Arizona or possibly if the D-Backs give up on him, Rauch. I think that one of those two will be the new closer. As for bullpen help IDK where to start. Rotation in my mind should be set (given that we resign Garcia-which should be priority)

    Rotation:
    Verlander
    Bonderman-May/Robertson-APR
    Garcia
    Galarraga
    Miner

    Bullpen: Willis, Nate, Cruceta, new CP, Zumaya, Rodney, and Rapada/FA/Trade/2008 Draft pick.

    That’s just my thoughts though….

  9. Ian C.

    September 30, 2008 at 6:50 am

    I believe the Tigers will look to Arizona for their new closer, too. But I think Juan Cruz will be the guy, not Lyon.

  10. rings

    September 30, 2008 at 10:13 am

    I would hope the Tigers would not foolishly pursue K-Rod…closers are a notoriously bad “big” free agent acquisition, particularly in deals longer than 2-3 years. I think he’s peaked anyway…with violent delivery that relies on movement, he’s still very probable for arm problems and if he loses any velocity, he’s cooked as it will begin to blend the speed differential on his off-speed offerings.
    I predict the team that signs him will have “dead money” no different that ours with Sheffield, Higginson, Easley, Willis, etc.

  11. stephen

    September 30, 2008 at 10:52 am

    A little off-point, but I just wanted to thank Billfer for another great season. He is the one true All-Star.

  12. Chris in Dallas

    September 30, 2008 at 11:09 am

    If Renteria comes back on a one year deal for less $, I’m not going to be horribly upset. I’d think they’ve got to trade Guillen if they can, though. Having him in LF is going to block some of the younger outfielders who have shown they can play at this level (e.g. Joyce). Not a fan of that. On the flipside, Guillen is coming off a subpar year, both production and health wise so his value is at a low ebb. Perhaps start the year with him and hope he bounces back for a move at the deadline in ’09. Just thinking out loud.

  13. Brenden

    September 30, 2008 at 11:23 am

    I think this team can’t afford to bring back Renteria. He has been a weak spot on this team all year. I like the idea of putting Cale Iorg there, or even giving Santiago a legitimate shot. At catcher, I think the team should really give Dusty Ryan a long hard look, because he could be a solid option instead of looking at something outside of the organization. Looking outside the organization is what got us into trouble this season.

  14. Chris in Dallas

    September 30, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    At catcher, I think the team should really give Dusty Ryan a long hard look

    After watching yesterday’s performance, I’d have to vote ‘no’ on Proposition 52. He looks like he can swing it a little, but his defensive skills might translate better as a DH.

  15. Walter55

    September 30, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    I think Guillen in LF would most likely be a one year deal with him moving to DH once Sheff is gone after 2009.

  16. Steve

    September 30, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    I wonder what everyones thoughts are in order of importance for team needs.

    To me they are:

    Relaible strike throwing Closing pitcher
    SS: (Renteria is fine at a WAY reduced salary)
    Cather: I like Ryan if we are not hurring him a long
    >> A talk with Leyland about no doing as many weird things during the games. Some stuff is ” Jim Leyland” and some stuff is out of this world strange.
    >> Get D-trains act together. Its hard to believe that he went from were he was to were he is. Lets work hard get the right pitching coach here and get him into a # 2or 3 Role.

    And thats all I have to say about that ……………………

    Steve

  17. don

    September 30, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    Cale iorg is Not Ready. he hit 250 in A ball as a 22 year old last year. he may have tools and get there eventually, but next year he’d just be santiago with less power and worse defense.
    I don’t really get guillen in LF, like someone mentioned, we block joyce, and he’s already proven to be a guy who can slug .500 (against rhp anyways) and play some stellar defense. What gives, is joyce someone we’d be looking to trade for bullpen/catcher help?

  18. Smoking Loon

    September 30, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    “What gives, is Joyce someone we’d be looking to trade for bullpen/catcher help?”

    Joyce’s future may be in RF, I would guess.

  19. Chris in Dallas

    September 30, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    Top priorities for the offseason IMHO:

    1. Fix the rotation. There’s talent there, so hopefully a new voice as pitching coach will get them back on track. I vote for Orel Hersheiser.

    2. SS. Renteria at a reduced salary saves $, but ultimately he’s just an awful defensive player, which tends to kill you at that position. John McDonald had a farm.

    3. Fix the rotation.

    4. Don’t overspend on any kind of releiver. If K-Rod ends up a Tiger, I’m not watching a single game in 2009 (OK, that was hyperbole – but I’d be pioughd if they went that route). They drafted a ton of college bullpen arms – use them.

    5. Fix the rotation.

    6. Catcher. I’m not feeling the Dusty Ryan Experience, albeit in a limited sample of games. James Skelton? Don’t know enough about him. If any of the Texas guys can be had, I’d explore it.

    7. Fix the rotation.

  20. don

    September 30, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    sure, maggs goes to DH when sheff leaves joyce goes to right. but is that in 2010? I guess in 09 we could probably find him 400 abs between sheff/guillen being injured from time to time, which would be fine, but still, it makes me nervous when promising young guys (like raburn) miss development time sitting behind guys like sheff.

  21. Scott

    September 30, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Chris, you think the rotation needs some attention? What?

    I’d have to agree on young Dusty (Jack) Ryan. He’s not ready for a full-time gig … sign a vet and let Ryan catch 100 games in Toledo.

    I’d also look at the OC (Orlando Cabrerra) Experience for SS for a year or two until Darth Iorg is ready.

    Good luck trying to get much help for the rotation. Forget trading Maggs … he makes too much money. No way you get a 1 or 2 for him. So, go ahead, Mr. I, sign the local boy Derek Lowe.

  22. Scott

    September 30, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Don, Raburn is a scrub and Joyce isn’t much better. I’m not in favor of bringing Sheff back either, but let’s not kid ourselves about him blocking prospects. Joyce is a poor man’s Bobby Higginson, and that’s not saying a lot.

  23. Chris in Dallas

    September 30, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    I think Joyce is fine. He’s not an All Star or anything, but he’s got some pretty nice raw power and is just 23. I could see him as a 30 HR guy at some point in the future. He K’s a bit much, but again he’s still pretty young. He did put up a 117 OPS+ in 242 AB’s and bats lefty on a team stacked with righties. Anyhoo, I’d peg him to be more productive than Guillen by 2010, maybe even sooner.

    As for the rotation, I don’t think they should go nuts and ink Lowe. He’s going to command something like what Lohse just got (4/48) which is way too much for a guy his age. He’d be fine the first year or two, but we’d all hate him by year 3 and another dead weight contract would be on the books. I’d stick with what they have. Verlander should rebound, Bonderman will be at 100% (at least to start the year) and Galarraga will probably regress but be at least average. That’s 3 spots. Then you’re looking at the Robertsons, Willis’s, Garcias and minor leaguers of the world to round it out. If one of those 3 veterans figures it out again and someone else steps up from within the organization, they can have a decent group. I know, I know – lots of ifs. I’ll still take those ‘ifs’ over getting hamstrung by another bad contract, though.

  24. Scott

    September 30, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    I tend to agree with you Chris, about the rotation. Lowe’s numbers have been helped by pitching in a weak National League in a great pitcher’s park. The kind of starter we could sign or even trade for probably wouldn’t be much better than what we have.

    Bonderman, I still think is the key. You figure Verlander will bounce back and win at least 15. If Bondo can win 14-15 and eat 200 innings, it’ll be a huge boost. We should be able to get enough out of the rest of the crew to be OK.

    The bullpen has to be better, obviously. I know they’ve talked about getting a set up guy and making him into a closer. But why not explore a trade for Frankie Cordero or Kevin Gregg?

    It will be intersting to see how it all shakes out.

    I’m generally not one to call for firing a manager. But if the Tigers don’t contend for a playoff spot next year, or finish below .500 again, time for Leyland to go off into a smokey sunset.

  25. Smoking Loon

    September 30, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    I want Dave Dombrowski’s hair. DD could trade that hair for at least 3 top-level prospects. What’s he waiting for?

    Leyland must be fired, and yet he must not be fired. But someone besides Hernandez and Jeff Jones and Marcus Thames must take the fall for 2008. So I advocate firing Jim Leyland’s mustache, right after the WS for maximum impact.

  26. Chris in Dallas

    September 30, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Scott: In a vacuum, Cordero would be a great fit. He’s much better than any options currently on the roster. The problem is he’s still owed oodles of years and cash on his current contract, so it would have to be a salary-for-salary trade from the Tigers perspective. That means unloading a veteran like a Guillen or someone like that. I’m thinking the Reds would want prospects in return, since they’re perpetually rebuilding. Unless they think they can contend right off the bat in ’09. I’m not sold on Gregg being all that great. I like Ian’s Juan Cruz Theory from Arizona. Go after a setup guy on another team and promote him into the closer’s role. That’s cheaper and has a history of working out (cf. Rivera, Mariano)

  27. Scott

    September 30, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    True enough … Joe Nathan was a set up man in SF, too, I believe. I guess the key is finding the right guy.

    I guess what we’re all driving at is that DD is going to have to be very creative this off-season. But I think he at least has the right mind set going in … trying to find pieces that fit instead of building a Fantasy Team.

  28. Chris in Dallas

    September 30, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    trying to find pieces that fit instead of building a Fantasy Team.

    Indeed. His comments seemed to indicate that’s the direction they’re going in. Thankfully. I also saw a nugget in there about working in the young guys more frequently. So that’s all good stuff. I’m hoping that the scouts will earn their paychecks and identify some talent, whether it be within or outside of the organization.

  29. Vince in MN

    September 30, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    A deal with Oakland is an interesting possibility. They are in rebuild mode and it looks like a number of their players from this year either won’t be back or are expendable. They have excess pitching but need some batting punch. We have an excess of DH/1B/outfield types and are desperate for pitching, so a multi-player deal may match up well.

    Dombrowski said yesterday that pitching AND defense were going to be priorities this off-season. If that is truly the case, it is not a ringing endorsement for bringing Renteria back, even at a reduced price.

  30. Smoking Loon

    September 30, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    I interpret Dombrowski’s comments on Renteria and SS to mean there is no way Edgar is back in 2009.

    Somewhere (here) recently, a left side of Santiago/Inge was characterized as “frightening.” I disagree. Renteria/Guillen didn’t work out so well. Santiago may not be the best answer at SS, no, but – he is on the team right now. If he’s only somewhat better than Renteria defensively, that’s good enough. One less thing to worry about having to acquire from without.

    Another thing that didn’t work out so well in 2008 was a lineup “loaded” – on paper – from top to bottom. You can get to the WS without that, and most WS teams do.

  31. Dave BW

    September 30, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    oh dear god, david eckstein’s going to be a tiger, isn’t he

  32. Steve in Kzoo

    September 30, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    SMoking Loon I must disagree. We have a lineup that will be top heavy. And we all know that Santiago started to regress and come back into his relm after the All Star break. He will probably end up having a .230 avg. And then Inge well we all know that he might rebound after a…scratch that two bad years. After having a 10 HR season and a .203 avg season we will have a left infield with stellar defense and a nasty .216 avg. That is just unheard of. Sure their defense might give us a +12 win differential but i dont buy it. We need to keep a real hitter either at SS or 3B and neither Binge nor Santiago are real hitters at best both of them should be starting 30 games the rest they should be late inning replacements. So i think either Renteria or Cabrera for SS next season because we at least need a bat at SS if Binge is playing 3B.

  33. Chris in Dallas

    September 30, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    Dave: Eckstein is the scrappiest scrap that ever scrapped, OK? He’s got the grittiest .692 OPS I’ve ever seen.

  34. Chris in Dallas

    September 30, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    Steve: I think you’re undervaluing the importance of defense. The Tigers have plenty of bats. The problem is Guillen and Renteria absolutely suck on the left side of the infield. Renteria is -9 at SS (24th in the league) and Guillen is -8 at 3B (26th). Giving up that many extra outs is going to lead to higher pitch counts for the starters and an overworked (and therefore less effective) bullpen. Verlander is the classic example of what happens When Bad Infields Attack. Inge, on the other hand, was +27 and +22 in his last two full seasons at 3B. If you bring in an at least average SS, you’ve all of a sudden got a much improved left side and Verlander doesn’t have to throw 110 pitches in 5 innings.

  35. Steve in Kzoo

    September 30, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    Chris I believe you are right. Defense is key to many wins. But we all know that even though you many save some runs and get some wins, when you have your fat cats (no pun intended) of Cabrera, MAggs(if hes still here), Sheff and Guillen on base with singles or doubles, and then you have flat bats of Inge and Santiago that may or may not work you dont score those runs at the bottom of the order. Ill give you this, Inge at 3B will be big and as much as I hate his bat, he is an outstanding and gold glove fielder. But we need something more at SS and i mean someone with some average. Renteria, Cabrera, someone else via trade with some average would be awesome. But we need something anything at the end of the order as well. All of our internal options are still to young to use so we must look FA or Trade for SS if we are to seriously contend. And may i remind you that Santiago though an excellent infielder made some errors in key games this year that added to this years disappointment.

    As for catcher. I really have no idea what they are going to do there. Dusty Ryan, I like him i really do but he needs major seasoning in AA or AAA before hes ready for full time catching in DET. Im going to say a stop gap of one of three FA this offseason. Paul Bako, Jason Veritek, or Olivo if his option is not picked up by the Royals. And that will be for one year or possibly 2 years low cost.

  36. Chief Monday

    September 30, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    Whatever the Tigers do, the bottom line is that they need an attitude adjustment. Winning attitudes breed success. Success is just as contagious as losing is.

    It only took 89 wins to win the AL Central. The Tigers should have won the division this year.

    With all our shortcomings, the Tigers were legitimate contenders until the bullpen fiasco started. Jones bottomed out. Rodney was a disaster. Zumaya was clueless. Then Farnsworth squashed the last ounce of hope we had. The bullpen died. Watching the pen blow it night after night was a gut wrenching experience. It was defeating in every aspect.

  37. Brian P

    September 30, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    Apparently no one wants to win the AL Central. Is anyone else watching?

  38. Mike R

    September 30, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    I used the free data at the hard ball times for defense (plays made on balls in zone which they call revised zone rating [rzr], plays made out of their defensive zones [ooz]) and turned it into a runs total using some conversions that have been bandied around on the weird invention called the world wide web.

    Basically, not including the game yesterday in Chicago, I updated all the numbers during that game.

    Edgar Renteria came out as -11 runs defensively, and Ramon Santiago came out -4 defensively at SS. Basically, Santiago is 7 tenths of a win better than Renteria over the course of a season.

    And, personally, I think defense is completely overvalued. Using this method of defense (which admittedly has flaws and I never like to use just one source of defensive data but this is free and easy to update so until things like the Probabilistic Model of Range get updated in November and other things like UZR and the Fielding Bible come out, this is all I’ve got to go by), here are the top 10 teams in terms of runs saved defensively:

    PHI – 61.2
    STL – 60.4
    ATL – 59.1
    HOU – 58.8
    NYM – 45.7
    OAK – 44
    CUBS – 40.7
    MIL – 36.5
    LAD – 34
    TB – 29.5

    Basically, in evaluations that result in runs like this one, 10 runs roughly equals 1 win. So these teams are all around 3-6 of their wins are from their defense. And of the top 10 defensively, 5 made the playoffs and only 1 in the top 5 made it (Philly) and that is likely due more to the fact that they mash homers like it’s no one’s business in the ban-box that they call home.

    By the by: Minnesota came out 2nd worst at -91.4 runs defensively. White Sox came out as -25.6 runs. Boston, -24.6. Angels, -12.4.

    I wrote about the Tigers defense back in early August using this method. Here’s part 1, part 2, and part 3.

  39. billfer

    September 30, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    Ryan looked like crap yesterday behind the plate, but I’ve been otherwise impressed with him defensively. His defense has been the part of his game that hasn’t been questioned as a prospect. I wouldn’t worry about that part for next year.

  40. Dave BW

    September 30, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    Brian: I watched. It was almost as boring as I imagined a match-up of those two teams would be. Go Rays!

  41. David

    October 1, 2008 at 12:19 am

    Defense is underrated, vastly

    Take the pitching we had this year

    Take the hitting we had this year

    IF we would have had Ryan behind the dish and Inge at 3rd, SS, 2nd and 1st and Grandy in the OF spots we would have had a boatload more wins

    I’d rather have the best defensive team with decent pitching than the best offensive team with a bunch of statues

  42. Mike R

    October 1, 2008 at 1:02 am

    David, if you give us the best defense in the league, that wasn’t making any difference than if we had the defense that we had. And our defense graded out to -32.8 runs — 3 losses essentially on the D. I’m going to guess that the pitching staff’s K:BB Ratio dropping in the following:

    2006: 2.05 … 1003 K’s, 489 BB’s
    2007: 1.84 … 1047 K’s, 566 BB’s
    2008: 1.54 … 991 K’s, 644 BB’s

    has more to do with the Tigers being a last place team than the defense does.

  43. Chief Monday

    October 1, 2008 at 1:21 am

    Good pitching will make a good defense look great.
    Good pitching will make a poor defense look good.
    Bad pitching will make a good defense look bad.
    Bad pitching will make a poor defense look terrible.

  44. Mike R

    October 1, 2008 at 1:35 am

    Not necessarily true, Chief. Wouldn’t you say that the Boston Red Sox, 9th in team ERA, 6th in strikeouts, and middle of the road in walks count as good pitching? And their team defense using this method was -24.6 runs — 22nd in baseball.

    LA Angels: 5th fewest walks allowed in baseball, 14th most K’s, and and 8th best ERA. Team defense of -12.4 runs — 18th in baseball.

    Here’s the spreadsheet, so no one thinks I’m just hoarding these numbers for myself (I do plan to write something up — i just want to get the numbers from the Tigers-Chicago and Chicago-Minny game into the spreadsheet. There are tabs for each position, all of the players listed together regardless of positions, and team totals. All tabs should be sorted by runs and are as current as the games played through Sunday since I last updated the spreadsheet as I watched the game on Monday.

    But, the good pitching-bad defense thing continues … Minnesota is 13th in ERA, 5th in K/BB ratio, yet were the 2nd worst defensive team in the league — ahead of only the Royals — at -91.4 runs. Arizona was -20, etc etc.

    Let me say again that I’m sure it looks like I’m taking these defensive numbers as gospel, but I hope no one takes it that way. These are simply the only method that’s currently updated right now that I know of. There are other, better methods, that come out once the season is done and for defensive metrics the rule of thumb is the most sources you can find, the better grasp you’ll have on it. I don’t expect these to line up with the other metrics that I prefer to look at, however, I feel that most of them will be pretty close in terms of the order. This method I think will give a good skeleton of who’s good and bad on defense team-wise.

  45. David

    October 1, 2008 at 2:04 am

    I’m not arguing with that (the fact that the pitching is more important)

    but you can’t tell me our defense lost us 3 more games this year – how in the heck is that even figured out

    -32.8 runs = -3 losses?

    huh? I don’t really get that

    If you use runs scored and runs against as a semi-accurate measure of who has the best team then everything would be different

    Boston would have won the East, with the Jays getting the WC the Angles would have 88 wins instead of 100

    clutch defense, and certain web gem type plays have as much impact on a game as clutch offense ie that Ramirez Grand Slam

    look at today’s chisox twinkies game

    if Ken Griffy Jr’s throw wasn’t made, if the tag wasn’t made Punch AJ they could just have easily lost that game

    I know you and others here like to focus on the negative part of Brandon (he can’t hit well MOST of the time)

    but the fact is he and others help our pitching and prevention of runs

    plus they help our team mentally

    I’ll say it again, it is a very mental game – sometimes you can just sense the game is over after a big hit or a big stop or a dominant pitching performance

    You cannot discount it

    Plus I have yet to find the be all end all stat

    The simplest and best I can find offensively by far is runs produced

    Runs + RBI – HR

    and it is still not very good

    some runs mean more than others – ie in close games, or when they shift momentum

  46. Chief Monday

    October 1, 2008 at 2:08 am

    IMO, it’s the pitchers fault for letting the ball get hit in the 1st place. The better the pitcher, the easier it is for the fielders to make a play on the hit ball.

  47. jud

    October 1, 2008 at 3:05 am

    Classic Ozzie Guillen to a reporter “everyone hates Pryzinski”.
    Reporter “but how do his team mates feel”
    Ozzie….”when he is your teammate you just hate him less”

  48. Mike R

    October 1, 2008 at 3:26 am

    Chief, I can get behind that, kind of. I’d amend it to something like more a pitcher misses bats, or gets GB’s, the better.

    David, it’s too late for me to tackle that at the moment, but i’ll try to remember to get back here and discuss it. If I don’t get back to it in time, hopefully one of the other posters here that understands what I’m saying (or even Billfer himself) can help explain it better.

    Cliffnotes version: 10 runs above average defensively (and this metric puts average at 0 runs) roughly equals 1 win.

    Also, I didn’t say I didn’t want to upgrade the defense, rather that I feel it’s vastly overrated by the casual fan (and I would include myself in this category as well as I often am bemoaning bad defense just like others) and I never said that I didn’t want Inge at 3rd. I understand his value there and Catching does take a toll on his already terrible bat. What it does though, is creates 2 holes in the lineup with Inge and whoever we get to be the starting catcher, which then limits any other attempts to upgrade defense since defensive upgrades are largely all glove, no bat (see: Adam Everett, FA shortstop after this year from the Twins). We cannot pick him up because you then create three massive offensive holes in your line up.

    If we can get someone better than Renteria (around -11 runs defensively) who isn’t a black hole with a bat in his hand, then I’m all for it. Chances are, that means giving Orlando Cabrera a deal when he’s prime for a regression in his offensive output and defensively as he ages. We’ve already locked up someone who’s prime for a rapid decline (Carlos Guillen) and that’s not something I’m overly keen to do but can buy into since we have 2009 as a window to make another run to the world series before we’re an old team that just gets older. Asking to contend with this current club in 2010 is asking a lot.

    Basically. I think upgrading in every facet of the game (offense, pitching, defense) is important and you don’t want to be terrible or below-average in any of them. However, in terms of importance for me, defense comes last in that threesome.

  49. billfer

    October 1, 2008 at 5:07 am

    I generally think defense gets underrated in terms of importance, but going into this offseason it is now going to become vastly overrated by Tigers fans given the way the season played out.

    The Hardball Times has team level plus/minus. The Tigers were one of the worst teams in the league defensively. You know who was a fine a defensive team? Oakland. Yet they finished poorly because they didn’t have anybody that could hit. It works both ways. I just don’t want to see the Tigers load up on glove men as part of an overreaction to this season.

    http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/teams/

  50. Coleman

    October 1, 2008 at 8:17 am

    I’m not sure I subscribe to the “Santiago, any time in the future that we play him more than x games, will completely collapse and bat .220″ school or can even figure out where that school comes from.

    Granted, this is only about 210 AB, but from the All-Star break of ’06 through the 2008 season his combined numbers are:

    .287/.379/.411/.790
    [.290/.347/.405/.752]

    I have no reason to believe he would continue at this pace, but it’s even sillier it seems to be certain of some imminent collapse. Based on what? 2 weeks platooning in September? His horrible 2003 season? I just don’t really see it. (The .411 OBP is tops among shortstops including Unqualified) Not to mention he can steal a base or two, and has only hit into 1 double-play his last 200 AB.

    The bracketed numbers below Santiago’s are Renteria’s career averages.

  51. Coleman

    October 1, 2008 at 8:33 am

    The various fielding measures are complicated and unsettling and half the time I either feel there is something not quite right that I can put my finger on, or some good insight that I almost got that I can’t catch up to. And trying to figure out how it all interacts with pitching…

    You could say for instance that the fielding metrics show STL as 2nd best, and yet their pitching staff is only 6th best in ERA, and their team is 8th best based on their record. Doesn’t that suggest that fielding is much less important than pitching which is less important than…whatever else? Um, except their batting, which is best in the NL in AVG, and 2nd best in OPS. Obviously there are no simple relationships there.

  52. Coleman

    October 1, 2008 at 8:57 am

    Yeah I know, I’m going all Smoking Loon here…here is one fairly simple fielding stat that stands out to me, for Tiger 3rd basemen this year:

    Guillen: 749 INN 15 DP [1 DP/50.01 INN] 14 ERR
    Inge: 324 INN 14 DP [1 DP/23.14 INN] 1 ERR

    So leaving out the errors, theoretically with Inge all season the Tigers would have started more than twice as many double-plays from 3rd. These are high numbers even for Inge, (he averaged 29.5 the 2006-07) and I’m sure partly reflect, how show we say, more double-play opportunities provided by the Base On Balls Bunch.

    The reason I find this important is that with double-play opportunites, by definition there are already runner(s) on base and you are in a higher-impact situation for the pitching staff.

    In fact I wouldn’t at all be surprised if a really good measure of a team’s double-play efficiency would show as good a correlation between pitching/fielding and between fielding/team success as anything else.

  53. Dave BW

    October 1, 2008 at 10:45 am

    Coleman: I plugged their various stats into the game Baseball Mogul, and Santiago came out with an 86 overall rating compared to Renteria’s 78 overall rating. I’m sold!!!

  54. Smoking Loon

    October 1, 2008 at 11:28 am

    If the left side of the infield is manned by Inge and Santiago in 2009, and they do no better at the plate than their career 162-game averages suggest, I will be satisfied. I strongly suspect Inge will hit better than that next season, and Santiago as well. Maybe not much, but some.

    Cabrera, Polanco, Ordonez, Granderson, Guillen, and Sheffield ought to be enough to carry weaker bats at SS, 3B, and C. Really.

    I’m not saying I really want Sheffield at DH and Guillen in LF, mind you, but I’ll take that as “the way it’s going to be” for now. Regardless of what I want, those 2 bats can be expected – ought to be expected – to be part of a Potent 6 the majority of MLB would be envious of. Beltre at 3B, Non-existent 2006 Carlos Equivalent at SS, and Magically Appearing Veteran Slugging LHB Catcher With Cannon Arm in addition would be better, yes, but it’s not necessary.

    Pitching. Bullpen. Pitching. Bullpen. Pitching. Bullpen. The Tigers have enough to get by on everywhere else, aside from maybe a decent veteran platoon partner for Ryan at C. Who (Ryan) I’m all in favor of hurrying along, totally.

  55. Smoking Loon

    October 1, 2008 at 11:37 am

    “So we’re not getting a ham sandwich for Edgar… well that’s disappointing.”

    On the bright side, a ham sandwich is exactly what the Tigers plan to offer Renteria for 2009. What is scary is that he may accept the offer. A ham sandwich is a terrible thing to waste. We can only hope that Miguel eats it first.

  56. Coleman

    October 1, 2008 at 11:44 am

    Dave BW: “Coleman: I plugged their various stats into the game Baseball Mogul, and Santiago came out with an 86 overall rating compared to Renteria’s 78 overall rating. I’m sold”

    Well, if you kept playing Baseball Mogul, Santiago’s number would drop back down into the 50s, he’s just not a starter…

    [so goes the school of "thought"...]

    Oh I left out of the Santiago list: he can also bunt. Hardly something to put on one’s resume–but did you see some of Renteria’s attempts this season??

  57. Smoking Loon

    October 1, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    I had the thought that who the Tigers bring in as pitching coach might have a lot to do with which pitchers they pursue outside of the organization.

    Also, the bullpen version of Armando Galarraga is out there somewhere. Will the Tigers identify him? Can you?

  58. Chris in Dallas

    October 1, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    The Tigers closer of the future is available in trade for a very very low price. His name is Tony Pena Jr. I’m only half kidding.

  59. Smoking Loon

    October 1, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Yeah, Pena would also be able to hit very well for an AL pitcher. I’m all for it. Anyone who can strike out Pudge has got to be legit. :)

  60. greg

    October 1, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    Good posts Dave BW, Smooking Loon on Defense…and thanks for the hardball times link billfer.

  61. Chris in Dallas

    October 1, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    here are the top 10 teams in terms of runs saved defensively:

    PHI – 61.2
    STL – 60.4
    ATL – 59.1
    HOU – 58.8
    NYM – 45.7
    OAK – 44
    CUBS – 40.7
    MIL – 36.5
    LAD – 34
    TB – 29.5

    OK only 5 of those teams made the playoffs. Of course there are two things about that. a) only 8 teams make the playoffs and b) 8 of those 10 posted winning records. Obviously improving the Tigers defense isn’t a cure-all for the pitching, but it certainly helps. I’d also like to point out that Boston and Chicago were able to overcome below average fielding by being #1 and #3 respectively in the AL in strikeouts. Anaheim was 6th in K’s, but benefits from a pretty pitcher-friendly home park. Improving the defense will help the Tigers, and an emphasis on throwing strikes and maybe missing a bat from time to time will help further.

  62. Dave BW

    October 1, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Cruceta was supposed to be the bullpen version of Galarraga. Maybe he still will be.

  63. Smoking Loon

    October 1, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    “A deal with Oakland is an interesting possibility.”

    Vince (or anyone) – who might Thames, Raburn, and – oh, Larish, maybe even Hessman, too – fetch us from the A’s? I’m not saying I want Thames traded, but if we assume (for the sake of argument) that Guillen in LF means Sheffield at DH which means that Country Funk gone is a done deal…

    Or was the suggestion about a bigger deal involving Ordonez or Guillen? I’m not much for trading Maggs, not to anyone for anything. That’s a big hole in production to fill – huge.

  64. Smoking Loon

    October 1, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    “Cruceta was supposed to be the bullpen version of Galarraga. Maybe he still will be.”

    That’s a good point. True on both. Cruceta really got a baptism by fire earlier in the season. No reason for despair. I’m actually higher on him than Dolsi, and I can’t even smoke either one of them.

  65. Chris in Dallas

    October 1, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    Well, Oakland got a bounty of prospects by dealing Haren, Harden and Blanton. Maybe they’d be willing to part with a minor league arm. The next Jeremy Bonderman, perhaps.

  66. Coleman

    October 1, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    It’s worth remembering as we re-grumble about the Jurrjens trade, that Jurrjens could very well have spent half the season on the DL or gone all Robertson or who knows what if he had stayed here instead of going to Atlanta.

    Add to the fact that Atlanta has a knack for bringing pitchers along at the right pace, and the comfort factor (being closer to home and having one of the handful of people in the country who speak your native language in the organization), and I’d be willing to predict he looked a lot better from a distance in Atlanta this season than he would have at Comederica.

    Which doesn’t mean, long-term, we didn’t sell our future for an imitation ham-substitute sandwich product.

  67. Chris in Dallas

    October 1, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Yeah, Cruceta may or may not be good. He got off to a rocky start, but I have a feeling missing so much of Spring Training with the visa issues may have set him back. He seems to have a good arm. The fact that the Tigers are his 5th professional organization is kind of a red flag, though. Of course, Carlos Pena took about 73 organizations before he finally figured it out, so what do I know?

  68. Smoking Loon

    October 1, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Well, Chris, what I was wondering was whether the A’s have anything at the MLB level, not that a top prospect or 3 would be bad. I just don’t know. I’m Tigers-smart, MLB-dumb. Me bad fan.

  69. Coleman

    October 1, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    Smoking Loon: “Well, Chris, what I was wondering was whether the A’s have anything at the MLB level”

    They certainly didn’t appear to this season…

  70. Smoking Loon

    October 1, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    What about Aquilino Lopez? Stay? Go? Could have been (still could be) a decent starter. A trade based on that clear potential? Keep him for long relief? He seems better at that than in a set-up role, based on most of 2008, anyway.

  71. Smoking Loon

    October 1, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    Yes, Coleman. Maybe they’ve already traded away the guys the Tigers could have used.

  72. Chris in Dallas

    October 1, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    Methinks Aquilino Lopez is more of a spare part than anything. A nice guy to have – can fill a variety of roles, but I wouldn’t want to count on him as a “go to” guy in any of them.

  73. Smoking Loon

    October 1, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    “OK only 5 of those teams made the playoffs.”

    Excellent, Chris. In other words, 50% of the top 10 defensive teams made the playoffs. Only 15% of the bottom 20 did the same. That’s a significant enough departure from 26.7% (8/30) odds to possibly mean something, eh?

    Someone with more time than I have today should – please – look at this 10/20 thing for pitching and hitting. Please?

  74. Coleman

    October 1, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Smoking Loon: “Someone with more time than I have today should – please – look at this 10/20 thing for pitching and hitting. Please?”

    I think the general rule of thumb is the team that makes the fewest errors will win as often as not.

  75. Smoking Loon

    October 1, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    So the team that commits the fewest errors is doomed to finish no better than .500? I’m disappointed.

    Don’t shirk your responsiblity, Coleman. You know darn well that the stats I’m looking for are at your disposal and begging for you to present them.

  76. Chris in Dallas

    October 1, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    George Loon-ey: I think the more appropriate statement is that 5 of the 8 playoff teams were top 10 defensive clubs.

  77. Smoking Loon

    October 1, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    True, Chris. 62.5% of playoff teams were Top 10 defenders (as opposed to 100% of playoff teams making the playoffs, and 0% of non-playoff teams making the playoffs*). Coleman will be along soon with corresponding data for pitching and hitting.

    * Rule #1 on How To Make The Playoffs: Make the playoffs.

    Silliness aside, just so there’s no misunderstanding, my original comment was intended as complimentary. Because at first glance, it did seem that “only” 5 top defensive teams in the playoffs was indeed an “only.”

  78. Coleman

    October 1, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    Smoking Loon: “Don’t shirk your responsiblity, Coleman. You know darn well that the stats I’m looking for are at your disposal and begging for you to present them”

    Did I show you these 3rd base DP numbers? I know I already posted this but they started begging again…

    Guillen: 749 INN 15 DP [1 DP/50.01 INN] 14 ERR
    Inge: 324 INN 14 DP [1 DP/23.14 INN] 1 ERR

    But I have to add, real Mr. Double-DP for 08 has to be The Gambler The Gambler himself, turning 11 DP in 173 INN or 1 DP/15.73 INN

    …and Mr Inge could you please stop loafing out there at 3rd–look how Mr Rogers is putting you to shame while you lollygag, and try to levitate, and slacker around, and apparently anything but putting your mind to achieving the Out that is Two.

  79. Coleman

    October 1, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    Smoking Loon: “So the team that commits the fewest errors is doomed to finish no better than .500? I’m disappointed.”

    Now you know better than that, a 50% probability does NOT mean the team will finish .500, it’s just as likely as not that they will. Or not. Or above or below that mark. Or not.

  80. Smoking Loon

    October 1, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    As we wait for Coleman, I can tell you this:

    Top 7 AL hitting: 2 playoff teams
    Top 8 NL hitting: 4 playoff teams
    Top 7 AL pitching: 4 playoff teams
    Top 8 NL pitching: 4 playoff teams

    Silly conclusion: Better play – somehow – seems to influence inclusion in the playoffs. Serious conclusion: Pitching is more important in the AL. Maybe they’re equally obvious.

    Interesting that 8 of the 10 top runs-saved defensive teams are in the NL, with all 4 NL playoff teams being among them while only 1 of 2 top AL teams made the playoffs.

    There would be more parity between the leagues if the Tigers, Mariners, Rangers, and Orioles moved to the NL, while the Cubs, Mets, Phillies and Cardinals came over to the AL. The MYSTICAL DRAFT POSITION FACTOR could be counteracted by penalizing lousy AL teams with demotion to the NL.

  81. Smoking Loon

    October 1, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    Kenny Rogers could be the answer at SS. More range and a much better arm than Guillen or Renteria, ability to turn the DP, better nickname, looks better with a scruffy beard than the other guys, better quotes, slugging and OBP comparable to Renteria. Wait. OK, I was looking at his pitching numbers there. But he’s not far off as a batter, either. And I’m pretty sure he can bunt.

  82. Coleman

    October 1, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    I think I solved my earlier puzzle–where StL was 2nd in whatever fielding metrics that was, 6th in pitching and either 1st or 2nd in hitting–and finished with the 8th best record.

    I just needed to let the stats settle in my mind…

    Tony LaRussa is the worst manager in Major League Baseball.

    There, now I feel better.

  83. Coleman

    October 1, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    I’ve run my numbers and what I’ve come up with is that Fielding becomes more important than thought, when Fielding is not thought important.

    Also the relevant correlations aren’t between pitching staffs and defenses, but between pitchers and defenses; and that “pitch to contact” pitchers (a dumb phrase, because it’s not as if you’ve failed if they make no contact) success or failure relies more on the crouching glovewielders than that of other pitchers–for instance for the Angels of old with Ryan bringing 98+ from the right and the next day Tanana the same from the left, well they would have been just fine with our sluggish sandwich at short, and you’re better off investing in catchers.

    Also if we could steal Greg Smith from Oakland, that could bring happiness to one’s future.

    And now I need to pause for a minute to contemplate Mr. Ordonez.

  84. Coleman

    October 1, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Also I suspect the pitching success and playoff-bound, eh?-ness of teams correlates more closely with fielding rankings if you toss all the outfield numbers out except the top and bottom 5% and add a double-play efficiency rating to the scores, giving it 25% weighted of the total.

    But that’s just a hunch.

  85. Coleman

    October 1, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    And where’s the Snorg girl? she certainly bailed fast enough on us…

  86. Smoking Loon

    October 1, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    You’re not thinking Ordonez for Smith, Coleman… are you?

  87. Chris in Dallas

    October 1, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    I think our recent trend towards numbers-geekiness chased of Lady Snorg.

  88. Smoking Loon

    October 1, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    The Snorg girl probably left because she didn’t want to be associated with a losing team. I had no idea she was so shallow.

  89. Coleman

    October 1, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    Snorging Leer: “”You’re not thinking Ordonez for Smith, Coleman… are you?”

    Oh no, not for all the Smiths in the Smithee. I was just pondering his stats and how similar they were to last year’s–except for the parts about hits and RBIs and all that.

    For instance someone was griping (yes, here in this very bloglike sanctuary, griping!) about Ordonez swinging at the 1st pitch all of the time.

    So I checked that out and this season (I did this before the last couple games but I’m sure it still works), he first-pitch-swang 19.4 % of the time. Wheras last season he only did so 19.3% of the time (see! I knew he was doing it more!). It’s even closer than it looks, pre-rounding. That’s so consistent it’s odd. I mean, he couldn’t set out to swing at the first pitch, oh, I guess 19.5 % of the time or so…it would be hard even to try for 1 out of 5 times and come short by almost the same amount two seasons in a row.

    It has to be a ratio just built into his wiring. Perhaps it resides within the invisible tilde?

    The RESULTS of the 1st pitch swings…um, not very similar:
    [AB-BA-SLG-GIDP]

    2008: 105 .295 .400 9
    2007: 115 .496 .835 2

    What this means is: if Ordonez this season–swinging at the 1st pitch with almost the same exact frequency as last season–ALSO had the same results on 1st pitch swinging as last season, he would have finished 2008 BATTING .355 and won the batting title by almost 30 points.

    I had to contemplate that for a while.

    And also why…one clue is the large number of of GIDP (almost 10% of his AB). Maybe with men on base, he was pressing a bit, understandable given the Tigers frequent utter inability to score a run, and he was hitting it to short and 2nd instead of up the middle?

    One of those things just a fraction of a difference in the swing, but sadly a large difference in the result? Is it possible Ordonez was just a couple tiny tweaks from putting up the same numbers as last season? And if so, how can we stop them from trading him, for the love of Ruppert Jones!!!!

  90. Chris in Dallas

    October 1, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    I wouldn’t trade Maggs unless they are going into 100% rebuilding mode, which I think is highly unlikely given all of the samoleans invested into the team going forward.

  91. Smoking Loon

    October 1, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    “I wouldn’t trade Maggs unless they are going into 100% rebuilding mode”

    Yeah. I don’t think the Tigers need to rebuild, but it seems like they’re in the odd position of being unable to rebuild even if they desperately wanted to.

    The fall and rise of the hated White Sox post-2005 might make an interesting study in how a team can get back up without tearing everything down. Then again, maybe Chicago was never quite so in hock as Detroit is now.

  92. Coleman

    October 1, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    I left out the Ordonez RBI numbers:

    2008: 2 13
    2007: 8 38

    SO what this means now is: if Ordonez this season–swinging at the 1st pitch with almost the same exact frequency as last season–ALSO had the same results on 1st pitch swinging as last season, he would have finished 2008 BATTING .355 and won the batting title by almost 30 points, with a very slight dropoff in power, finishing with about 27 HR 128 RBI.

    What this also means is that in everything not including the result of first pitch swinging he did almost just the same as last season (in total).

    That’s it, right there. The only real difference between Ordonez 07 and Ordonez 08 was the result (not even the frequency) of his swings at the first pitch.

  93. Smoking Loon

    October 1, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Very interesting numbers on Ordonez, Coleman. Very. I think you’re in gold star country. Definitely something for Billfer or Lee Panas to examine.

  94. Chris in Dallas

    October 1, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    I always thought Lee Panas had a name that looked very anagram-worthy. I’ll ignore the vulgar ones and christen him “Seaplane”.

  95. Smoking Loon

    October 1, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    It always made me think of Panera Bread. They have ham sandwiches there.

  96. Coleman

    October 1, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    I’ll go with Snape Ale and cash in on Harry Potter marketing tie-ins.

  97. Smoking Loon

    October 1, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    I hope to have time over the winter to read all those Harry Potter books, and also the Lord Of The Rings ones. 2009, for me, will be all about literary allusions involving the Tigers. No more of this low-brow ham sandwich stuff for me. I’m movin’ on up.

  98. Chris in Dallas

    October 1, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Now I have the theme from ‘The Jeffersons’ stuck in my head. Many thanks.

  99. Coleman

    October 1, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    The pitch-count stuff is quite interesting. It’s always been one of those things where what you know doesn’t fit with what you think you experience–I always remember ill-advised swinging, and yet it’s clear looking at stats that it’s advantageous to swing at the first pitch (other counts, such as 3-0, will produce better results, but you also risk the 50-50 result of a 0-1 count, where your odds are much worse, etc.).

    What I’m seeing–and it’s one of those disorienting moments–is that the Tigers didn’t swing often ENOUGH at first pitches.

    Here is the league average:

    Freq–BA–SLG
    12.5% .336 .544

    And the Tigers’ team average:
    11.2% .360 .595

    In other words, Tiger hitters get better than average results swinging at the first pitch–but don’t do it as much as other teams.

    It’s possible that this makes sense, that the better results are because they do it less frequently, and more selectively. But I don’t by that argument (even though I’m the one who just made it), since the Tiger hitters who I think would be the most successful at picking their spots, are actually the ones swinging away above league averages.

    Ordonez 19.4% .295 .400 (see ’07 comparison above)
    Guillen 16.2% .426 .676
    Cabrera 15.1% .409 .753
    Pudge 12.8% .471 .647

    [and I used to groan when Pudge would swing at the first pitch? I'm brilliant]

    I haven’t looked up the “takers” stats yet other than

    Inge 8.6% .333 .600

    …who does better than AL avg first pitch swinging, but attempts it 50% less often.

    So here is my question (to which, answer have I none): when the Tigers came out of the gate like a losing machine, and after he was done being confused, one of the first things Leyland did was to harp (I believe his word) on having “good at bats” going deeper into the count, not swinging at the first pitch.

    Could this focus–which seemed like commonsense at the time–actually damaged one of the Tigers’ strong points, their potent first pitch swinging?

    Of course professional hitters like Ordonez are not going to change their approach, but Leyland’s words would be more likely to effect guys who are struggling? (Even though Cabrera’s 15.1 % is around his career avg, I’d like to see this split into 1st half/2nd half numbers).

  100. Coleman

    October 1, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    Tigers First Pitch AB:

    2008 11.2% .360 .595
    2007 12.0% .292 .525
    2006 13.3% .382 .611

    [It looks like the 2007 season would have been a good time for "harping."]

    Why the dropoff?
    Personnel?
    Diminishing confidence?
    Coaching?
    Opposing pitchers changing their 1st pitch approaches after Ordonez knocked the crap out of them on 1st pitches in 2007?

    Pertaining to which, what think ye?

  101. Coleman

    October 1, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    “Opposing pitchers changing their 1st pitch approaches after Ordonez knocked the crap out of them on 1st pitches in 2007?”

    Holy Dan Gladden, I just realized what those 2007 numbers would look like if you took Ordonez’ stats out. Crikey.

  102. billfer

    October 1, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    Coleman -

    I did some extensive research on first pitch swinging and depth of plate appearances in between the 06 and 07 seasons if you’re interested.

    http://www.detroittigersweblog.....-swinging/

  103. billfer

    October 1, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    As for Ordonez and the difference between hitting .355 and what he hit last year, my guess is that it was random variation. From his stand point there is very little difference between hitting one through the hole between first and second and a ground ball to second. More of them just found there way through for hits in 2007. I think it was more a case of him being lucky in 2007 than anything changing this year.

  104. Steve in Kzoo

    October 1, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    BTW if we do deal Ordonez depending on if we get good MLB ready talent, we will be giving the 2009 season up. With what looks to be Binge and Santiago at the left side of the infield, we will have a weaker lineup with no hit sheff, and idk if i can play Guillen. Its all relative and we may be a handicapped version of TB Rays next year but by all accounts, w/o Ordonez and a weak Left infield we will be fighting for last next year.

  105. Coleman

    October 1, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    billfer: “Coleman -
    dI did some extensive research on first pitch swinging and depth of plate appearances in between the 06 and 07 seasons if you’re interested.”

    Ah, excellent, thanks for the heads up, I haven’t gotten around to really looking back beyond my DTW existence yet…

    If Ordonez is swinging at first pitches in 2006 at the rate of 19.4% I’m going to start wearing a Magglio wig to see if I can get some impossible consistency going in my own pursuits…

    I suppose eventually it won’t seem odd to me that the best thing you can do is swing at the 1st pitch more often than not…and that, as you suggested, the difference between a solid season and an MVP-type season can simply be…luck…

    Of course he did hit a lot more ground balls vs line drives in 08 than in 07: 44.9% & 22.3% vs 42.6% & 22.3%. (I use “a lot” in its Alternate Universe of Magglio Consistency Sense) So that’s at least an extra ground ball or two over the season…

  106. Coleman

    October 1, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    billfer: “I think it was more a case of him being lucky in 2007 than anything changing this year.”

    I think you’re right as much as I hate chalking things up to random or lucky anything, although I end up with the opposite conclusion as far as 07 vs 08..

    His 2008 numbers put him in the bottom 4th on the team in 1st pitch efficiency (well sub-Inge for example), whereas his 2007 numbers put him not too far above what Pudge, Cabrera and Guillen have done, which seems more like the natural Magglio spot. Actually I’m gonna go with one part good luck last year, three parts bad luck this.

    [I may try to figure out what % of his 1st pitch AB had runners on base this year vs last, since it occurred to me it's even theoretically possible that he hit the ball in the same spots this year as last, but this year there was a fielder there and last year not, because of who moved to cover what base etc...yeah, mostly I'm just keeping myself entertained with that one...]

  107. David

    October 1, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    Ahh maybe Billfer

    I just checked out his hitting chart at CoPa for 2007 and 2008 link -

    http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/indiv.....statType=1

    As you see at home he had 5 more singles, 5 more doubles, 4 more hrs, 3 less groundouts and 6 less flyouts in 2007 vs 2008

    I don’t feel like looking at the singles their are too many, and some overlap but overall it looks like both years he sprayed em all over

    As far as doubles

    in 2007 I see
    6 to left
    7 to center
    15 to right

    in 2008
    7 to left
    9 to center
    7 to right

    And hrs

    2007
    10 to left
    1 to center
    6 to right

    2008
    11 to left
    0 to center
    2 to right

    so combined extra base hits (there were no triples)

    2007
    Left 16 ~35%
    Center 8 ~18%
    Right 21 ~47%

    2008
    Left 18 50%
    Center 9 25%
    Right 9 25%

    That is a significant difference – if I could count singles I wonder if they followed that trend (more often to right in 2007 vs 2008)

    I think that is the difference in his BA

    Its laughable about Brandon

    2004 (he hit .287) looking at it the majority of his hits are to right and right center

    2006 (most consider his best offensive and defensive year)

    he hit quite a few to center but hardly any to right

    2008 (ba stunk although benched/util/no position/catcher)

    turned into a regular pull hitter

    The worst though if you check out his 2008 home hitting chart is Gary Sheffield

    its crazy

    1 hit to right field the entire year 1!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    and he is in consideration for the HOF?

  108. Coleman

    October 1, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    Zoo KaSteve: “BTW if we do deal Ordonez depending on if we get good MLB ready talent, we will be giving the 2009 season up. With what looks to be Binge and Santiago at the left side of the infield, we will have a weaker lineup with no hit sheff, and idk if i can play Guillen. Its all relative and we may be a handicapped version of TB Rays next year but by all accounts, w/o Ordonez and a weak Left infield we will be fighting for last next year.”

    Actually it will be structurally important to have a sub-250 hitter in RF next season, at the corner opposite to the light left side of the infield, or the outfield could easily sink a measurable amount. And you don’t even want to know what it would cost to fix that, you’re talking a multiple-dontrelle price tag

  109. Coleman

    October 1, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    Dave: Ahh, you found the Stat Funhouse!
    It’s a weird experience going back and forth from looking at Ordonez stats which are seriously consistent (actually I wonder if he golfs, he would be good at it), and Inge stats, which are full of odd surprises…

    it wouldn’t surprise me to find he’s batting .450 when he swings at 0-2 pitches, and struck out all 23 times he batted in the 6th inning etc…[at one point this season for example, Inge’s stats were close to identical in everything except SB, then he hurt his oblique like Sheffield. Perhaps there are odd energies emanating from Inge and we need to bring in say Phil Jackson as a Zen assistant to make sure they turn toward harmony and success and not evil. Or if he’s too expensive, maybe that David Carradine guy.

  110. David

    October 1, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    or break his toe =p
    http://www.dtownbaseball.com/2.....inges-bat/

    know of any good hitmen/women with high heels that can stomp?

    things like that

    and

    his streaky bat make me think if he was a little more gifted upstairs (could try to go to all fields and fix his hitting mechanics faster when in funks etc.)

    we would never have anything but nice things to say about Ingey and he would be a nice two way player

  111. Mike R

    October 1, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    I feel like I just watched Coleman and Smoking Loon go on a date or something with all of their corresponding.

    I don’t think people are reading all that I’ve written. I do think that defense has importance — I just think it’s way below the importance of upgrading the offense or the pitching staff. Too lazy to scroll back up, but whoever pointed out that Boston overcame shoddy defense because of their abilities to miss bats as a pitching staff is absolutely right — the more strikeouts and fewer walks a pitcher or a staff gives up, the better that pitcher/staff is. Which should be a priority.

    I would love to throw money at AJ Burnett this offseason. Eddie’s site updated NL Elias Rankings and I came to the same conclusion as he that we aren’t going to be in the running for CC Sabathia and Derek Lowe will command too much money for the little results that he’d likely bring. I like AJ Burnett a lot — Way above average K rates, about average BB rates, way above average ground ball rates — and wouldn’t mind locking him up. Yes, I know he’s got injury questions seemingly every year, but we’re not in a position to wait on some one else to come up through the system to bolster the pitching staff.

  112. Coleman

    October 2, 2008 at 12:55 am

    Mike R: “I feel like I just watched Coleman and Smoking Loon go on a date or something with all of their corresponding.”

    Hey now, if you look I actually dated Smoking Loon, DaveBW, myself, billfer, Steve in Kzoo, David, and the Snorg girl (I wish). The Loon kept talking about DD’s hair and stuck me with the check.

    I’m not sure I got your whole bit way up, but I like the clarification. I think the Tigers’ pitching in ’08 looked worse than it probably really is because of the defense, but I also think the Tigers’ pitchers made the defense look worse than they really were. When guys like Robertson, Rogers, Todd Jones, are at their best, you’re going to be seeing ground balls all over the place (at their worst this is mixed in with a bunch of walks and topped off with a 3-run HR).

    They just don’t have anybody that’s gonna come in and blow 10 Ks by a team (maybe the guy they used to have named Verlander, not the new guy). And when guys do get on base, I tink a Catcher that you think twice before running on and infielders that can turn 2 would make it incidental if you’ve got a Thames in LF or a guy without an arm in CF or RF or whatever.

    That’s why I’d like to find a good measure of DP efficiency; I actually think the Tigers are OK at that, but I’d like to have something to base that on….

    I think that’s why the good fielding/good pitching/playoff team comparisons didn’t match up…the fielding is more or less a factor depending on what KIND of good pitching you’re talking about.

    AJ Burnett is the best suggestion I’ve heard, and at least it’s plausible, although it feels like a longshot to me (for no particular reason really, other than the “gearing down” vibe I sense from DD).

  113. greg

    October 2, 2008 at 2:28 am

    Renteria cost us -11 Runs defensively? Did someone forget to add ‘per week’ to that statement?

    Or maybe someone someone’s ’0′ key isn’t working?

    No, I know, you meant to say Renteria’s D cost us 11 games….right?

  114. Ryan

    October 2, 2008 at 9:56 am

    So here’s a mildly interesting stat: JV, Bondo, Kenny, and Nate all had a career low (or very, very close) in GB/FB. Is it possible that the reason the pitching sucked is that, in light of predictably bad infield defense, Chuck was tasked with turning the entire staff into fly ball pitchers? If this was an area of organizational effort, it would help explain why Leyland, a guy who almost always errs on the side of not making a move, was so aggressive and consistent with pulling Thames for Joyce or Clete in the late innings.

  115. Coleman

    October 2, 2008 at 10:34 am

    Ryan (outta Brooklyn?): I figure the bad defense at least explained why Kenny was diving after balls himself like a maniac…

    I actually never thought of your point from the coaching angle, but I did think of it from the pitch calling angle, especially with Inge behind the plate….

  116. Smoking Loon

    October 2, 2008 at 11:08 am

    Hey Mike R, I read all that you write. Sometimes I (and others) just focus on part of it or go off on a related tangent. Nothing I posted here was intended as an argument with your point about the importance of defense relative to pitching and hitting. Defense is so much harder to quantify, so I remain unclear and undecided on just how important it is.

    My point, if I had one, was that a left side infield of Inge and Santiago in 2009 would be superior to the one of Guillen and Renteria in 2008. The bat you lose is Renteria’s alone. The defensive upgrade at 3B is tremendous, and the same at SS is anywhere from slight to moderate. Neither Inge nor Santiago will have to try all too hard to match Renteria’s OPS or run creation. And it won’t cost anything extra. Besides, If Iorg is such a hot prospect, then a stopgap at SS is the way to go, eh?

    From the earlier discussion, I became curious about a possible Pythagorean-record type predictor of playoff inclusion based on a team’s league or MLB rank in pitching, hitting, and defense (the tough one), or perhaps even other more specific team stats for those 3 major facets of the game. If there was a formula that yielded some kind of good correlation (say 0.83), we’d finally be able to answer the question about the importance of intangibles (say 0.17). That’s partly tongue-in-cheek. But not entirely.

    Coleman, you are the Stat King. I’ll date you any time. But only on DTW.

  117. Smoking Loon

    October 2, 2008 at 11:53 am

    “Chuck was tasked with turning the entire staff into fly ball pitchers?”

    I could be wrong, but I don’t think anyone wants more fly balls from their pitching staff no matter how bad the infield defense is. The good thing about ground balls is that they tend to stay in the park.

  118. Smoking Loon

    October 2, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    Coleman on Ordonez’s first-pitch swing results:

    AB-BA-SLG-GIDP-HR-RBI

    2008: 105 .295 .400 9 2 13
    2007: 115 .496 .835 2 8 38

    SO what this means now is: if Ordonez this season–swinging at the 1st pitch with almost the same exact frequency as last season–ALSO had the same results on 1st pitch swinging as last season, he would have finished 2008 BATTING .355 and won the batting title by almost 30 points, with a very slight dropoff in power, finishing with about 27 HR 128 RBI.

    Billfer:

    As for Ordonez and the difference between hitting .355 and what he hit last year, my guess is that it was random variation. From his stand point there is very little difference between hitting one through the hole between first and second and a ground ball to second. More of them just found there way through for hits in 2007. I think it was more a case of him being lucky in 2007 than anything changing this year.

    Smoking Loon:

    I don’t think Billfer’s comment addresses what Coleman points out, exactly. Maybe it wasn’t intended to? The first set of numbers up there, um… well, I need to understand if random statistical variation is supposed to account for that kind of spread, and if so, how. I mean, if a guy had between 105-115 AB over 2 consecutive seasons and batted .496 one year and then .295 the next, would we say he was first lucky and then unlucky? Even with an accompanying dropoff in SLG from .835 to .400? Maybe I’m not very bright, but I can’t yet fathom such an explanation.

  119. Ryan

    October 2, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Loon: I think you are kinda right, and kinda wrong. No one ‘wants’ more fly balls, but there are plenty of guys (Oliver Perez, Jered Weaver, Daisuke, Ervin Santana) who succeed with low GB/FB. Fly balls tend to stay in the park, but they also tend to turn into pop-ups more than they turn into line drives. There’s not really a right way; it’s just the way you pitch. I think the problem comes in when you try to get someone away from what they have succeeded with. If that’s what happened. Which I have absolutely no proof of.

    Think of variation this way:
    Lets say the guy who hit .495 and then .295 has a ‘natural’ ability to hit right in the middle of them, .395. That’s what he would end up hitting if he took infinite ABs right at this moment. Over 110 at bats, .295 = 32.5 hits. Over 110 at bats, .495 = 54.5 hits. His ‘natural’ ability would give 43.5 hits. So, if 11 balls over those 110 ABs go just fair instead of just foul, or right by a fielder instead of at ‘im, that makes the difference between .495 and .295. There could, of course, be a lot of other things going on, but luck would be one possibility. Looking at things like BABIP and LD% can help you determine the likelihood that luck played a big part.

  120. Smoking Loon

    October 2, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    That’s fair, Ryan.

    I didn’t mean to imply that there aren’t good flyball pitchers. I think these guys tend to be pretty good strikeout pitchers, too. Astute of you to suggest that what they really are, at best, is avoid-line-drive pitchers. Possibly “pitch-to-no-contact” pitchers, too.

    11 balls that go one way or the other doesn’t seem much as a simple number. In terms of percentage, however, I must insist that 10% is – or at least can be – significant over any repeatable sample size. With 500 AB, a mere 15 hits more or less is the difference between batting .270 or .300, or .330 or .300, not something generally ascribed to luck even when luck has a good deal to do with it. Decisions about contracts and money are based on such things.

    This is only what I’ve gathered from hearsay over the course of 2008, but apparently, Gary Sheffield in 2008 hit a veritable ton of line drives and even HR that were foul to the left. I don’t have the explanation, but I know it isn’t luck (and he wasn’t injured the whole season, either – not yet, anyway), and it had an effect on a guy with career borderline-HOF numbers hitting for a miserable average and poor OPS.

  121. Coleman

    October 2, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Smoking Loon: I don’t think billfer’s point was that it was Statistical Variation; I think he was saying, for want of a better term at the moment, it was more a variation of Fortune or Luck.
    (The statistical consistency in 1st pitch swing ratio etc was what gave me the idea I could do a straight comparison and learn something).

    Think of it like this: both years Ordonez swings at the 1st pitch 19.4 % of the time, and both years let’s say he hits 44% ground balls, and both years half of those ground balls are hard grounders to the right side of the infield. Even with this consistency, the result could be that one year 50% of those end up in right field as singles, and the next year only 20% do, and on top of that 10% of them turn into double play balls.

    So he does the same thing, gets different results (I think billfer was making this same point); maybe because he hits them a tiny bit more right or left; maybe because the infielders this year play him differently, or maybe this year Thames and Cabrera are on 1st and 2nd, and last year usually Granderson was on first and wanting to steal, and that left larger gaps for Magglio between 1st and 2nd…

    I’m sure you get the idea?

  122. Smoking Loon

    October 2, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    Coleman – What’s the difference between random statistical variation and luck? (Is “random statistical variation” not a synonym for “chance”?) You could say that the former measures the latter. You could also say that variation that is for all intents and purposes “random” is the cause of and the precondition for what we call “luck.”

    Where is the line drawn, is what I want to know. How wide would the difference between Ordonez’s first-pitch swing results for 2007 and 2008 have to be before it might be informative to look for for explanations other than luck? Why is luck a first resort explanation rather than a last resort one? If we apply the “luck rules” for this particular Ordonez split more broadly, what happens?

    The job of the hitter is to hit ‘em where they ain’t. If you keep hitting them where they are, no matter how hard or far or perfectly line-drive, you’ll soon be out of a job. This fact is what makes me look askance at luck as an explanation. Luck is real, true. But has anyone here thought clearly about where its limits are as an explanation? You could account for every event in the universe as luck or chance or fortune, if you really wanted to.

    I’ll take my random statistical variations on a good answer.

  123. Smoking Loon

    October 2, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    I’m actually looking forward to having my position on luck completely shot down, because I’ll be able to better explain being late for work or missing a day altogether. “Look, boss. There are 40 hours in my work week. Today I was late by only 7.5% of them, and when you think about it, a week is a pretty small sample size anyway, so…”

  124. Coleman

    October 2, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    I don’t like saying it’s “luck” either, that’s why I tried “fortune” but that didn’t seem any better.

    I think what I really want to say here though is a hitter’s success rate will be the combination of his actions–what he decides to swing at, the type of swing, how fast he runs after he hits it,m etc–with external factors, such as how good the fielders are, the decisions they make, the baserunner situation, the weather even. Most of these the batter has no control over, some he might have some control (they put 3 infielders on the left side of the infield, the batter can try to hit it to the right side etc).

    This is the part, all of the things out of the batter’s control, where I’m saying most of the good/bad fortune occurs. Most of these things happen within a certain range; if you hit a ground ball up the middle once a game, there will be a few times somebody somehow snags it and gets you out; most games you will have your hit though.

    But it’s at least possible that you could hit a ground ball up the middle once a game all season and NEVER get out, or likewise end up getting out 3/4 times hitting the same pitch just as hard to the exact same spot. What else would you call it besides lucky/unlucky or fortunate/unfortunate that the probability is you will bat about .400 on these, altough there is a chance, with the same swing, it might be 1.000 or .250?

    Which is why your boss won’t be happy–unless a freak earthquake collapses all the freeways, in which case he will probably assume you proceeded as usual in an on-time manner, and external factors outside the normal range caused this to result in an “out”

  125. Coleman

    October 2, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Smoking Loon: “The job of the hitter is to hit ‘em where they ain’t. If you keep hitting them where they are, no matter how hard or far or perfectly line-drive, you’ll soon be out of a job.”

    That explains Sheffield…The Shef’s eagle eye detects a large space between 3rd base and the stands, with no player from the other team in sight! He flexes his oblique and yanks a hard line drive straight into this unguarded territory, haha you guys are pretty “ain’t” where the Shef just put it, ain’t ya?

  126. Smoking Loon

    October 2, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Well, my boss won’t be happy anyway, whether I’m on time or late, but that’s another story.

    I just think it’s usually more interesting to look at other things – hard – first before citing fortune or luck or ____. Up to a point, of course. We all have our patience limits.

    Maybe more pitchers (and more defenders?) had the benefit of good scouting work on Maggs and his first-pitch tendencies in 2007 – those numbers would frighten anyone – and Maggs just didn’t make the required adjustment, though it wasn’t enough to drag him down much overall.

  127. Smoking Loon

    October 2, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    “The Shef’s eagle eye detects a large space between 3rd base and the stands”

    Ha. OK, hit ‘em where they should be but ain’t. Is it legal to position defenders in foul territory or in the stands, by the way?

  128. Coleman

    October 2, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    It’s hard to even figure out every factor which figures into a play…just imagine you’re a hitter on the last game of the season, and you’ve gotten to a tie for the league lead in both BA and RBI, and you get to play the Tigers! See, now that would be lucky. Or would it? You’ve piled up the RBIs by ripping balls hard past 3rd, wait, I hope they don’t put that Inge guy out there…you anxiously wait to see the lineup.

    Meanwhile your fate is being decided somewhere amidst some smoke and grumbling…

    now hold on here I can’t put Guillen at 3rd I think I told him he was our Leftfielder now. I guess for one game it wouldn’t hurt him. Hmm, I can’t put Thames in left though, I told him he was the everyday LF and then didn’t play him there, then if I all of a sudden act like he really is the LF, that’s not really playing straight with him…oh hell Inge can play Left…OK hold on Jimmy slow down here, I’m gonna try an experiment here, I’ll have these guys try switching positions, that puts Inge at 3rd and Guillen in LF…I hate moving Carlos around so much though. Oh hell what am I doing Inge has to catch, maybe I have to play Raburn at 3rd. Wait no I think he can catch too. And there’s that tall guy…Hey! Gene! Who’s that guy who catches sometimes whose not Inge?…

    [to be continued...]

  129. Smoking Loon

    October 2, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    “Dombrowski likes Cale Iorg thinking he’s going to be an All Star very soon.”

    This was such an unlikely statement that it made me suspicious. Now I’ve finally figured out billfer’s cryptic message:

    Dombrowski likes Cate Snorg thinking she’s going to be in Ulster very soon.

    I did some research just to make sure I wasn’t crazy. Sure enough, a check of the passenger manifest on a recent flight to Northern Ireland revealed both a C. Snorg and a “D. Smith.” Yeah. I told you his hair was good.

  130. Coleman

    October 2, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    SL:”Yeah. I told you his hair was good”
    Why do I feel like I’m about to get stuck with the check…

    (The Snorg girl I’m sure really is Irish though. Not sure about DD, he could be one of those where his great-grandfather moved to America and changed his name from Devin O’Dumbrowski to Dave Dumbrowski or something)

  131. billfer

    October 3, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    @David-

    With regard to the spray charts, that is helpful but incomplete. You can’t discount the singles and you most certainly can’t discount the outs. Was he hitting fewer balls to right or was he getting fewer hits on balls to right? I actually don’t know.

    As for Sheffield and his lack of XBH, that’s the way he’s hit the bulk of his career. A career that has been remarkably successful. I don’t think you get extra HOF consideration depending on whether or not you hit the ball to the opposite field. Although with the BBWAA I wouldn’t put it past them.

    @others

    On the topic of luck and the widespread with Ordonez, I’m entirely comfortable saying that the .496 batting average was largely a function of luck. That just isn’t a natural number so he was likely quite lucky. The .295, that’s a tad to the unlucky side. One, it’s below his normal batting average, and 2, it’s below a normal batting average on balls in play.

    @Smoking Loon
    Luck isn’t always a first resort, and I’d say among the larger baseball loving community it is treated more as a last resort, especially when it comes to individual performances. There very well may be a number of other factors that go into these things, but the difficulty is in measuring them. Because a great deal of the variation comes within the normal limits it is easy to dismiss it as luck.

  132. Smoking Loon

    October 3, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Relax, Coleman. I’ll pick up the check this time. Even though you brought up Snorg girl this time. I think. Well… I’m really not sure. No matter – Chris would’ve if we hadn’t.

    Well put, billfer. Why can’t I be so succinct? Ah well…

    We should pick up this luck topic again some time, though. Another possibly fruitful discussion would be one about the use and abuse of baseball statistics. Which matter more, which less, what’s the difference between a significant difference and an insignificant one, some clarification of what makes a significant sample size in what context, etc., etc., that sort of thing.

    Hey. It’s a long offseason. We can only make so many imaginary trades, sign so many imaginary free agents, and make so many imaginary lineup/rotation changes.