The 2009 Tigers – they might not suck

For years I would write up season previews where I would almost automatically pick the team for 4th place. I didn’t know if they were a legitimate 4th place team, but I’d inject a little homerism to avoid last place. And then 2006 happened. The team was good. Real good. Picking them first or second in the division didn’t seem homer-ish, it seemed prudent after their World Series run. And an 88 win finish in 2007 and a blockbuster trade in the subsequent offseason further solidified those predictions. Then 2008 happened. I’m not ready to go back to picking the team in the bottom half even though that is the prevailing wisdom. I have them at 84 wins and a second place finish this year. And here’s why.

Back in January I took a look at the Tigers hitters and pitchers through the eyes of win values. It was an exercise in forecasting the Tigers season as objectively as possible. I used other people’s projections (mostly found at Fangraphs) to see how the Tigers would perform. At the time I concluded that the Tigers were an 84 win team. Of course, some things have changed since then:

  • Gary Sheffield was released
  • Rick Porcello made the rotation
  • Zach Miner won the a spot over Nate Robertson and Dontrelle Willis
  • The Tigers added Brandon Lyon
  • Jeff Larish made the team and Ryan Raburn didn’t
  • Josh Anderson was added to the mix

In the process the Tigers got a lot younger. The Tigers boasted 3 of the oldest players in the league in the form of Todd Jones/Kenny Rogers/Gary Sheffield. Now the offense is a mix of veterans and emerging stars and the rotation are veritable babies. The oldest pitcher in the season opening rotation is Armando Galarraga at the ripe old age of 27.

With the above mentioned roster changes in mind I updated the projections. The hitters are first, and then the pitchers:

2009 WAR Projections - hitters

2009 WAR Projections - hitters

2009 Pitchers WAR Projections

2009 Pitchers WAR Projections

I tried to stay objectives with the new roster additions, but admittedly there is limited data to work with. Anderson and Larish don’t have a ton of history to project offense, let alone defense. Rick Porcello and Ryan Perry only have PECOTA projections which have them posting ERAs north of 6.50. I took some liberties in these cases. Porcello I have as a below average starter throwing 160 innings (the limit laid out by Dombrowski). If he is as bad as PECOTA projects he won’t throw that many innings and I figured they would be filled by someone of about that quality. With Perry I pegged him as a replacement level reliever, following similar logic to Porcello. I actually think both will perform better than that, but I wanted to stay conservative.

In the end I have the team 41 wins above replacement and a replacement AL team would win about 43 games. So voila, 84 wins. (for more on the methodology check the links from the earlier articles)

As for second place? The Tigers are commonly cited for having many question marks, but look around the division. The Royals have an offensive black hole playing first base and an experiment at second base. The White Sox offense beyond Carlos Quentin and Alexi Ramirez is reliant on aging players like Paul Konerko, Jim Thome, and AJ Pierzynski. The Twins offense capitalized with RISP last season at a rate that is largely unattainable and Joe Mauer’s health is a concern. And the Indians have a Cy Young winner at the top of the rotation, but look at the rest of it.

My projected order of finish for the division is:

  1. Cleveland
  2. Detroit
  3. Minnesota
  4. Kansas City
  5. Chicago

I also see this division probably separated by no more than 12 to 14 games meaning that nearly everyone is in contention, and likely could be throughout the season. This could make things exciting when it comes to battling for a division crown. It could also make things dicey as sub .500 teams don’t view themselves as sellers at the trade deadline.

Other thoughts of a predictive nature

  • The team does well enough that Jim Leyland does not get fired during the season
  • Justin Verlander bounces back and leads the staff
  • I will eat my words denouncing the Edwin Jackson/Matt Joyce trade and be thankful that he’s on the team
  • Armando Galarraga will regress, but not as much as conventional wisdom would indicate. Instead I think he’ll improve his peripherals
  • Nate Robertson will assume primary whipping boy duty
  • Bobby Jenks doesn’t finish the season as the White Sox closer
  • I’ll curse Joe Crede more than once
  • Mark Derosa will be a stud for the Indians
  • Marcus Thames will simultaneously receive too much and too little playing time in the eyes of fans
  • Brandon Inge will be simultaneously undervalued and overvalued by fans and the two sides will accuse each other of being Inge-apologists and Inge-haters
  • Placido Polanco puts together a solid season and makes it very tough on the Tigers to decide on resigning him

52 Comments

  1. David

    April 6, 2009 at 12:20 am

    White Sox last!? Although yup it most likely will be close with all 5 teams either way. I agree with you on Verlander and Edwin Jackson and really agree with a big year from Poly… I think he is going to have a huge year. Armando I believe will be as good as last year – he is a strike thrower.

    I’m not at all sold on Derosa.

    There are many breakout players in our division/bounce backers. My top 10 being (in no order) – Fausto Carmona, Fransisco Liriano, Sin Soo Choo, Travis Hafner, Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer, Josh Fields, Victor Martinez, Billy Butler, Coco Crisp. I could go into reasons here, but it would take up too much space.

    OK Rant on

    How can you hate Inge? He is primed for a bounce back season. The one thing I don’t like is when people comment that he shouldn’t start. The guy is a friggin’ gold glove caliber player at nearly every position… With nearly any pitching staff he is a guy you want behind them to give them an incentive to throw strikes. Anybody who doesn’t like elite defensive players either A) Doesn’t know baseball or B) Doesn’t know baseball.

    Rant off

    I think Porcello and Perry might repeat what JV and JZ did in ’06 plus we got Juan Rincon on the cheap and Bobby Seay has been solid…

    I hope they can keep Guillen and Maggs healthy… and we get semi productive seasons out of Bondo and Zoom.

    I like watching Crede play A LOT(except when we are playing him :) ), but he is going to have to prove he can keep his lower back healthy after the last few years of sparse playing + playing more than half his games on artificial turf this year won’t help a lot…

    If we don’t lose too many more guys to injuries, I like our chances…

    However, if we do…it is going to be a long year

  2. Ryan

    April 6, 2009 at 12:37 am

    It’s all about the pitching. The pitching is going to get better, and I’ll tell you why. First of all, the defense is better. Everett is an outstanding defensive SS, and Inge is an outstanding defensive 3B. Polly is steady-eddy at 2B, and Cabrera will learn how to play 1B. The outfield is overall mediocre, but a lot of our pitchers are ground ball pitchers anyway.

    Edwin Jackson is also out of the AL East now. His ERA should go down a lot because of that. Galarraga is a strike thrower, so his ERA won’t go down that much. Does anyone think Verlander will have a 4.84 ERA again? I sure don’t. Porcello is the real deal – he was mostly dominant in spring training. Even if Bondo or Willis never come back, the rotation isn’t nearly as bad as a lot of people say it is.

    And if Zumaya ever comes back, he will probably close, taking the job out of Rodney’s hands.

    No fire sale this summer. 88 wins and a Central title.

  3. ron

    April 6, 2009 at 1:08 am

    Right on Ryan. Go Tigers.

  4. David

    April 6, 2009 at 2:05 am

    LOL Ryan you basically copied & pasted a bunch of what I said…not that I mind. ;)

    Still health has to be a concern… and I don’t believe we will see Zumaya close this year. First he has to be healthy, second there has to be no better performing option, third he worked pretty well at a more critical part of the game in ’06 (7th/8th).

    If Perry/Rincon/Seay/Lyon/Rodney can’t do it by the time he comes back AT 100%…we’ll be in trouble. We need at least 3 out of those 5 (if not 4 out of those 5) to pitch and do it well. Whatever we get from Zumaya this year should be looked upon as a bonus.

  5. Andre in Chi

    April 6, 2009 at 7:24 am

    Billfer,

    Poking both the Thames and Inge crowd? Fearless indeed.

    David,

    Where does it seem that Billfer “hate[s] Inge”?

  6. Mr. X

    April 6, 2009 at 7:56 am

    It’s also about getting rid of the virus that Sheffield brought to the team. Now that trojan horse is with the Mets. I’m laughing that the media actually thinks Sheffield has something left He’s been a total wash up for a few seasons. Sheff is also nuts to go back to a NY team, he’s just going to get hammered by the media again.

    The Tigers were a very good team last season when Sheffield was on the DL. Was this a coincidence? Sheff was gone from May 27 to June 22 and the Tigers won 15 out of 24 games. That’s a .625 winning pct and would give us 101 wins if we played that way for a full season. Even Nate Robertson pitched well during Sheff’s DL stint.

  7. Andre in Chi

    April 6, 2009 at 8:14 am

    Mr. X

    Not speaking as to Sheffield’s past, and not trying to overly apologize for him…

    However, yours and similar ‘Sheffield was a cancer in our clubhouse’ don’t seem reflected in any of the stories coming out since his departure. Of course, this could be because Detroit and its media are too classy to speak ill of Mr. Sheffield…but for the most part, it seems that he was a fairly model teammate (which subsequent player interviews would confirm). I’m not trying to stir up the Sheffield hornets nest…but aside from his health and a couple non-P.C. comments, he was as well-behaved as the rest of ‘em. Lets move on…

  8. rings

    April 6, 2009 at 8:48 am

    I love so many of their moves and agree with Bilfers main point that they’ve worked wonders to get the roster younger and more athletic, despite some “dead” contracts, the end of Zumaya and Bonderman’s slow recovery. Its all about health…if Detroit can stay healthy, especially the rest of the pitching, they’ll be fine.

    Andre, the fact that Sheffield’s stay was “uneventful,” is a testament to the class that surrounds him in the clubhouse. During his time in the D, he’s:
    * Accused Joe Torre of being a racist and burned the bridge to the Bronx
    * Stated that Latino players don’t deserve their place in the game b/c the management takes advantage of them (smoothed over with exceptional grace by Carlos Guillen – that could’ve been UGLY if he, Maggs or Pudge had taken offense)
    * Whined about not playing the field and being DH only
    * Used every injury excuse in the book when he slumped
    * Encourange younger players, like C-Mo, to play for the money
    * Complained to out of town papers that the Tigers were “forcing” him to DH
    * Insisted he was the best athlete on the team – at age 40 – as a parting shot
    Did anything turn in to a big controversy? No…but that wasn’t his fault. He tried.

    Rant on:

    As for David’s opening salvo in taking Bilfer’s bait, I’ll chime in and throw it back that an Inge-apologist “just doesn’t know baseball” and is probably watching too many highlight shows.
    Inge is a dunce and a complete whiner. He makes a bonehead play for every highlight play and he has never hit at any level of professional baseball aside from his fluke 2006 HR totals. He has the gall to publically complain about being replaced by a future Hall of Famer TWICE, when he had completely underperformed after being handed an opportunity and they couldn’t give him away last year as a third baseman. The only reason he’s still around, is because of his contract – no different that NR or DW. And no, he’s not a Gold Glover. He’s never won one. Although…he has led his league in errors three times. Even then, 3B is not SS or 2B or CF…its just not as important defensively as other positions.
    He’s a overpaid utility guy, nothing more.

    Rant off.

    Enjoy the opener tonight! I’m rooting for a fast start and a healthy season…looking forward to being there on Friday. Go Tigers!

  9. Mr. X

    April 6, 2009 at 8:59 am

    The pitching will be better for 6 reasons
    1) No more Chuck Hernandez
    2) No more Ham Sandwich
    3) No more Sheff
    4) Jackson
    5) Porcello
    6) Perry

    It’s all about the Sheffimetrics, the improved Defense, the added Pitching, and the new Pitching philosophy that Bill Knapp brings.

    The defense is greatly improved with the additions of Inge/Everett/Laird/Anderson. Anderson might not start many games, but he will probably be a late inning replacement regularly. Our relief pitchers are going to benefit the most from the upgrades. They should have the confidence that the defense will help them hold leads. Just throw strikes and keep the ball in the park. The Defense will do the rest.

  10. jason

    April 6, 2009 at 9:13 am

    I am really looking forward to Friday, and hope the weather is decent. The morning drive today was painful. I also agree that the pitching is going to determine the direction of the season, but I am not quite as confident as some of you that they will be much better. They could be, and should be, but after last year I am a bit hesitant to get overconfident.

  11. Mr. X

    April 6, 2009 at 9:20 am

    I know people like Sheff. What happens is that You adapt to being around them so that you don’t start any trouble. You end up treating them special and you pretend that everything is alright. I’m sure everyone here knows someone like this. You feel a sudden calmness and things seem to run extra smooth when they are not around. This IS my mother in-law.

  12. Mark in Chicago

    April 6, 2009 at 9:34 am

    Nice writeup, billfer (good snarky title, too). This feels like an 85-win team, which should keep them in the hunt most of the year. In the end, I think the Indians have a bit more on offense and a better bullpen to squeeze out a few more wins.

    I am looking forward to another 70-win season from the White Sox, though. Man, I hate that team.

  13. Mr. X

    April 6, 2009 at 9:34 am

    opps, that Rick Knapp, not Bill.

  14. big max

    April 6, 2009 at 9:46 am

    I’m excited yet concerned. The defense will be better and will assist the pitching. But we have several complete black holes at the bottom of the lineup unless Inge learns to lay off bad pitches or hits 27 homers again.

    I feel like Carlos Guillen will spend a lot of time trotting off the field from second after being stranded.

    Also, we are in trouble if Guillen goes down or can’t hack left as a fielder. Thames can play, but Larish would have to step it up big time.

    Anderson’s speed is useless if he doesn’t get on base – and he is not likely to be within 65 points of the .400 OBP required to make him a playable leftfield regular.

    On the plus side, it is a young pitching staff with a lot of talent and upside.

    Frankly, I’d like to see them try a team approach to the 5th starter spot, with Miner going 4 Innings and Robertson going another 3-4 with a huge platoon advantage. Pinch hit tough righties? Bonine or someone else can always come in. Use the huge pitching staffs to get that advantage.

  15. Kathy

    April 6, 2009 at 9:57 am

    I can hardly wait to see Josh Anderson run the bases. If our starting pitching can hold up and we don’t have any major injuries, this will be a fun season for the Tigers and fans. We’re not expected to do anything special but finish close to last. I’m hoping this team makes everyone gulp with shock!

  16. Mr. X

    April 6, 2009 at 10:08 am

    I don’t think Thames, Inge, Laird, and Everett will be much worse at hitting than Sheff, Renteria, Pudge, and Jacque Jones were.

    2008 OBP’s-
    Sheff – .326
    Renteria – .317
    Pudge – .338
    Jones – .244

    Thames- .292
    Inge- .303
    Laird- .329
    Everett- .278

    Anderson isn’t projected to be a regular in LF, he’s basically a 4th outfielder, a defensive sub, and pinch runner. He’ll be starting in Toronto because the artificial turf is bad for Guillen’s knees.

  17. jim-mt

    April 6, 2009 at 10:22 am

    Has Smoking Loon posted this year? I miss his eclectic insights.
    With Sheffield gone, my biggest source of angst will the check-swing strikeout-if you can guess who does that more than anybody.

  18. Andre in Chi

    April 6, 2009 at 10:43 am

    Mr. X,

    I’ll say my piece on this, then I’ll take my own advice and just let it drop.

    By all accounts that have surfaced since the Tigers cut Sheff, he was a good teammate. From reporters talking about how approachable he was, to Thames and Larish (I think) both talking about how good a friend and mentor, respectively, Sheff was. I don’t think there are any stories to corroborate your notion that the team was walking on eggshells around the guy.

    The only negatives I can think of (besides him being chronically injured), were the DH-related comments. Even then, they weren’t of the Robertson “maybe I should be playing somewhere else, I’ve got a career to think about…” variety – he always phrased it in terms of his (possibly delusional) belief that he could better help the team in another role.

    I believe that the reputation of Sheffield as a ‘clubhouse cancer’ likely has valid roots, I just think that he surprised a lot of people by not living up to that reputation in Detroit. Maybe his hitting correlated to his cancerosity…

    Anyhow, good luck with that mother-in-law, hope she doesn’t look like Sheff too :)

  19. Chris Y.

    April 6, 2009 at 10:50 am

    I agree, much of the standard analysis by various media outlets has focused on performances of 2008.

    Most importantly, I don’t think that the Tigers defense will be anywhere near the bottom of the league. At worst this team should be field a league-average defense and has the potential to end up far superior to that number. I’d expect a top-quartile defense.

    This team will score plenty of runs. The pitching should improve based upon additions alone and Verlander should significantly improve over 2008. That should equal quite a few more wins. Remember, this team was over .500 in July last year, and the final tally was really hurt by an atrocious September after they bailed on the season.

    I guess I’m with most folks, I just don’t see clear favorite in the league. I don’t like Cleveland’s rotation and I think Hafner is the new Sheff. I don’t like Minny’s offense unless Kubel finally makes good and Mauer suddenly heals (I also think their starters overperformed in 2008, but I expect a healthy Liriano will compensate). The White Sox are too old an injury prone — I don’t see a full year from Quentin, and Dye, Konerko, Thome, and A.J. are all in decline. The Royals are an enigma. This could be the year, or not. Their prospects never seem to turn the corner, but if Gordon, Aviles, Butler, Buck, and Teahen turn in career years, Meche and Greinke are a solid one-two, and Soria is just plain scary.

    My pick for wins is right about mid-80s for the Tigers, with the potential for more if things fall the right way. The Royals are my other surprise team — I think the Tigers-Royals will finish 2-3, either combination. I think Minnesota takes the division, the Indians are this year’s 2008 Tigers, and the White Sox finish last. Not much separation between each club, with 90-75 wins each.

  20. the roar

    April 6, 2009 at 11:08 am

    RINGS-

    Quit hating on Inge – I know that deep down in your heart he is your all-time favorite player!!! I was reading some comments from tigers.com and some guy was comparing him to BROOKS ROBINSON. He statement was something along the lines of “How would Brooks Robinson feel if he was asked to switch to catcher for year?” I about soiled myself, considering that he was catcher-turned-3B when it became evident that Eric Munson couldn’t throw a ball to 1B with any accuracy whatsoever. Although I do feel that he is adequate at 3B and that he has a higher error count because he gets to more batted balls, he still is only adequate and wouldn’t mind seeing someone else man the hot corner and ship him out of town. We sure could use some more OBP. If Inge can hit in the .240 or .250 neighborhood, and get his OBP around .325 or .335, he may provide to be decent in the bottom of the order. I just don’t see that happening. He really has only had 1 decent year (’05 when he hit leadoff) and 1 better than average year (’06). He was a serviceable player for the Tigers when his salary was sub-$2million. Now he’s a heavy weight around their neck – admittedly not as heavy as that of Sheff’s or Dontrelle’s, but a trio of bad contracts really ties the team’s hands in pursuing free agents and pursuing trades.

    Anyway, I haven’t been able to access that other site we get together on. Is it down for the count? Did it get KO’ed?

  21. rings

    April 6, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Good to see you Roar…yeah, I’m working on a solution to the “other” site. Are you on the FB page? We’re chatting on there too.

  22. Steve

    April 6, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Before we get to the Tigers: MR X put a password protect on this site, you don’t want you wife to see you roughing your M-I-L on the net. That will be a hard one to overcome in your club house.

    As far as the season goes, to me it comes down to pitching and health as stated above. The real thing for all of us is to have a horse in race in Sept. As fans we all want to stay interested all year long. If we stay healthy and get a few breaks along the way that should happen. If we run in to a streak if injuries or a main guy going out long term we are D E A D.

    For those of you out of towners like me MLB – EI has this week free if you want to catch a few games on the TV.

    Cheers to Billfer for running the site and having good posts. >> Really looking forward to the game and site fodder tonight. And double cheers for the spell checker in the box.

    Steve
    PS: Weighing in on Inge / Thames. Inge is here because wasn’t traded last year when they supposedly wanted to (I think it was to just keep him happy). More importantly he is here, because for the options we have, he is the option we have. We will get good games and bad games from him. He is the kind of guy that has driven me crazy in the past. I start getting down on him and he puts together a couple of good games with a fielding gem or two….. and then he wiffes on three straight with men on second and third and then I have a hole in the wall in my basement. All in All I can live with him.

    Thames will get a goodly amount of AB’s this year. It seems like we have a good enough team batting around him to live with the all or nothing execution. I seriously like the team attitude displayed by Marcus. Lets get him his AB’s and see where we end up. Good guy…… its his time to shine. (so Leyland if you read this let the guy play a little)

  23. tiff

    April 6, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    it’s been a long winter…. no matter the journey I’m looking forward to this summer of baseball. If young = exciting, we should have a fun 162 games on our hands.

  24. Dave T.

    April 6, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Last year the talk was all about the World Series, but also last year there was a ton of talk about the window of opportunity.
    The thing I like most about this team is that it will most likely be even better next year. There are a couple of older players, Maggs, Poly and Carlos, but other than those 3 there isn’t a lot of potential for drop off. Dombrowski makes odd moves, but he has been able to re-tool on the fly and stay competitive, which is not an easy thing to do.
    This is a well built club which should contend all season long.

  25. tiff

    April 6, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    yea… last year I was more uneasy because everyone had already decided they would be the AL pennant champ and it was too much pressure. No pressure this year as everyone has picked them dead last… just have some fun boys!

  26. rings

    April 6, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    If folks haven’t seen it yet, Granderson is blogging at YahooSports this year. He’s pretty frank about “expectations” and looking forward to the season:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/bl.....b%2C153127

  27. Bill Lucken

    April 6, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Inge above avg. clutch hitter
    My recent post on RBI percentage got a bit of attention from blogs and message boards, more than I usually get anyway. I should have known that any statistic which made Inge look good offensively would create a stir. Many were surprised that Inge finished third on the team and above league average by knocking in 18.3% of runners on base in his at bats last year. My initial reaction was that it was a fluke but I wanted to look back at other years to see if that was the case.

    The Table below compares Brandon’s RBI% to team and league averages from 2004-2008. This is the version which excludes plate appearances resulting in a walk, hit batsman or sacrifice bunt. As you can see, the Tigers third baseman finished comfortably better than league average every year from 2004-2008. I wouldn’t go so far as to call him a clutch hitter but this puts a dent in the idea that he has been a rally killer over the past few years. This result is not something I expected so it probably warrants a closer look in the future.

    As for the Tigers, they were well above average in 2004 , 2006 and 2007 but below average in 2005 and exactly average in 2008. It’s not a big surprise that they were unproductive with runners on base in those two disappointing seasons.

  28. Mr. X

    April 6, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Cliff Lee is looking terrible. Spring training should of been a red flag.

  29. RKT in Mississippi

    April 6, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    A 40-year outfielder with the Mets? Sheff will be on the DL by mid-June with a 0.210 batting average! Hope springs eternal!

  30. David

    April 6, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Andre – I did NOT mean Billfer, when I wrote that. The “you” meant anyone. Ie how can anyone hate Inge? = How can you hate Inge?

    My response to Rings craziness is LONG, so if you don’t want to read the bashing skip over the next section.

    Rings – really? really? you make it too easy.

    Yes I’ll agree with you that some of what he has said has bothered me very slightly. And I can also say he is not a fantastic hitter. I think that is close to where our shared thoughts would end.

    His “bonehead plays” are few and far between (~ alittle less than 1/week). If he has a chance to play everyday at the hot corner, I don’t have the statistics but, my memory bank seems to remember a much MUCH higher amount of web gems than the aforementioned “bonehead plays”.

    We all know (well I hope we all know) that errors are a very flawed and very primal baseball stat. Many times guys who get to the greatest amount of balls have a higher amount of errors than other guys with little to no range.

    Nope he hasn’t won a gold glove, but if you watch the game and or look at semi-advanced defensive metrics (read not ERRORS) then you will see that when he has started, he has been consistently an ELITE DEFENDER in baseball. Plus on Tango’s website DETROIT TIGER FANS have rated him as the TOP OVERALL TIGER DEFENDER the last 2 years and in 2006 he was 2nd to Pudge. (kinda strange considering that was his best defensive year IMO along with some stats but fine, whateva)

    “Although…he has led his league in errors three times.”

    Um last year he had 1 error at 3rd base in 324.3 innings…good for like 2398432958 place (this is not the actual number, in case you don’t get the joke) and I only see two years (2005, 2007) not three, please get your facts straight. And that is assuming that you DON’T INCLUDE THE NATIONAL LEAGUE. If you did that would bump him down to 3rd and 6th respectively.

    You cherry picked (and seemingly slightly fudged) your stats, I have no problem doing the former a little as well.

    Fine lets use a little more advanced metric by the good old guys over at The Hardball Times. IN THE AL Inge has only been a 3rd baseman starter (lets just say 1000+ innings). OK, so for 3 years (2005, 2006 and 2007) he will be considered a starter. In those 3 years he has placed FIRST (2006) , SECOND (2007) and THIRD (2005 – his first full starting year at the position) in RZR (Revised Zone Rating). I could keep going, but this might go over your head/or you might not want to twist your brain trying to think about it.

    Here is a short part of an email chat I had with Tom Tango back in late November of 2008 (THIS IS ALL A DIRECT QUOTE ABOUT BRANDON INGE)

    “Well, the Fans certainly give him his due, as do the advanced fielding metrics.

    The problem is that he’s not a good enough hitter, and so, he’s not considered a “full-time” player. This is silly.

    He should be a starter on any team, somewhere.”

    This coming from an expert in the field, who most likely isn’t watching as much Tiger baseball as you or I… But knows his stat shizzy.

    If you love home runs and value those erroneously high along with errors, I can’t help you. It is like arguing with ignorance, can’t be done. And sadly that would put you in the category I named.

    Plus how do you have a fluke HR total? Was he on teh juice? Was he practicing teh Ingey-magic? I don’t get it please explain. Also, his best years with the bat one could argue came the two years before where in 2005 he posted a 100 OPS+ (league average) and 2004 where he posted a 109 OPS + (above league average) where if you remember there were rumors that at that time the YANKEES wanted him.

    As for this

    Even then, 3B is not SS or 2B or CF…its just not as important defensively as other positions.

    Wow, just wow. Why don’t you put your money where your mouth is and go play as a major league third baseman…wait…hmmm.

    Heck better yet why not stick a broomstick there, or just have nobody there at all, play 8 on 9. This was one of the worst/most ignorant things you’ve said and I’d be willing to bet that many even anti-Ingers out there, wouldn’t even say that third base is just not nearly as important as other positions, and we might stick a sucky defender there. Oh wait didn’t we do that last year?

  31. Scott

    April 6, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    I think Billfer is pretty much on the mark with 84 wins.

    Frankly, I don’t see this team improving much over the next several years. In fact, the Tigers could go backwards. We have no real impact positional players coming through the system (excuse me if I’m not doing cartwheels over Cale Iorg and Will Ryhmes). Ouside of Porcello and perhaps Crosby, there are no real superstar pitchign prospects either.

    What happened to the great drafting guru David Chadd? I think the Tigers have taken the wrong approach the past few seasons. They spent most of our young capital and, guess what, it didn’t pan out. Now we are stuck with a bloated payroll and a mediocre (at best) farm system. In my opinion, the Tigers need to take a more conservative approach and strongly considering moving Ordonez and Polonco at the deadline.

    Crap, I hate to be so negative on Opening Day and I hope like hell I’m wrong. I just don’t think I am.

  32. Mr. X

    April 6, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Cliff Lee- 5 IP, 11 hits + walks, 7 ER, 5 K’s, and a big ouch on the elbow.

  33. Tyler

    April 6, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    Bilfer-

    Regarding Carlos Guillen…

    Had Guillen started in LF tonight instead of DH, I believe that he would have been the first MLB player to have started at four different positions on opening day (1B, Short, 3B, and LF).

    I’m about 99% sure that is true.

  34. Joel in Seattle

    April 6, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Wow, the Inge fight has gotten started quicker than I thought… can’t we all just exult together in a fine outing from our division favorite’s “ace?”

  35. Pingback: Tiger Geist » Blog Archive » Opening Day Responses

  36. David

    April 6, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Hey hey hey Joel I’m rooting for the Tigers. Lets do it Verlander take down the doc!

    Yea its ugly Mr. X, makes me sad I’ve got Salty and Andrus on my bench :(… Thankfully I also drafted Hank Blaylock and Michael Young and both ARE starting!

    Lee has given up over 1/10 of the runs he did last year in this one start LOL!

  37. David

    April 6, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    And DeRosa K’s

  38. Andre in Chi

    April 6, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    David,

    Just so you know, I hate agreeing with you after one of your 2-page posts :)

    Thanks for clearing up my initial assumption re: Billfer hating Inge.

  39. David

    April 6, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Now on to Yanks vs. O’s

  40. David

    April 6, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    Now on to Yanks vs. O’s!

  41. scotsw

    April 6, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Scott sez:
    “Frankly, I don’t see this team improving much over the next several years. ”

    I’m a lot more optimistic. They have the makings of a fine rotation for years to come, I think. Their oldest starter is Galarraga, 27. Behind him is a solid young player in Edwin Jackson. Verlander is better than his 2008 stats show, Bonderman can be dominant when healthy, and much is expected from Porcello. If either Willis or Robertson re-emerges as a legitimate starter, they will be in a very good position in 2010.

    The Cabrera signing was a very good sign for the TIgers — throwing the big money at a YOUNG established player. Much better than the Sheffield/Renteria plan: Throw money at OLD formerly good players.

    The Tigers also think they have All-Star potential in the minors in the form of Cale Iorg and Wilken Ramierez, and Wil Rhymes may yet with the 2nd base job next year (unless they keep Polanco). Perry shows a lot of potential, and Zumaya is still young and could return to form…

    All I’m saying is, I don’t believe this team is nearly as bad as their 2008 record, and I think they’ve added by subtraction in shedding Sheffield, Pudge and Renteria. People forget that Rogers started very strong in ’08 before tanking, and Jones didn’t have many save opportunities. Oh, and Jacque Jones will get 0 at-bats for the 2009 Tigers. Meanwhile neither Jason Grilli nor Kyle Farnsworth will throw a pitch in a Detroit uniform.

    I predict 90 wins.

  42. David

    April 6, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    LOL no problemo Andre, sorry I wasn’t clear in my first post. I know Bill doesn’t hate Inge.

    I wrote that gigantoid right after finishing a 3hr test marathon, guess you could say I was in an inspired mood :) … Don’t even get me started on Cobb, his defense would be a tad longer :D

    And although I don’t mind defending guys I either like/ think are good/undervalued or guys I look up to… A lot of the Inge debate has been overplayed on this website and on the airwaves. A lot of what I said today is just reiterated stuff from previous years and previous “fights” just like what Rings/others say to discredit him.

  43. David

    April 6, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    We did get a elite hitter in Cabrera, but our future might look really bright if we hadn’t

    1) Traded for Sheff
    2) Traded for Rentaria
    3) Traded for Cabby/Dtrain

    Maybin and Jair and possibly Claggett look like they could do well these next few years + who knows what will happen with Miller or Gorkys or Badenhop etc.

  44. Coleman

    April 6, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    Hmm, that did seem like a bit of fighting, usually I find the Inge stuff amusing, and interesting actually–most players are pretty easy to get a fix on, but for me Inge is full of surprises, good and bad. What seems interesting to me is Inge ends up being better than I expected at EXACTLY the sort of things the anti-Inge fans complain about, which is itself an interesting phenomenon.

    For interest, Steve above is often driven crazy by Inge, and who can blame him for that. But what drives him crazy? when ” he wiffes on three straight with men on second and third.” I always start out thinking along the lines of “yeah tell me about it,” then I look up the stats. Oops:

    DET Best Runners on 2nd-3rd
    2008 PA RBI AB/RBI K
    Cabrera: 14 12 1.17 2
    Inge: 12 9 1.33 2
    Guillen 10 7 1.43 1
    Ordonez 12 7 1.71 1
    Team: 143 68 2.10 34

    Then Steve finishes with this about Thames: “Thames will get a goodly amount of AB’s this year. It seems like we have a good enough team batting around him to live with the all or nothing execution. I seriously like the team attitude displayed by Marcus. Lets get him his AB’s and see where we end up. Good guy…… its his time to shine.” Sounds good. The funny thing about this though is Thames is actually THAT GUY. You know, the one he was calling “Inge,” that whiffs with runners on 2nd and 3rd:

    DET Worst Runners on 2nd-3rd:
    2008 PA RBI AB/RBI K
    Thames 10 0 —- 6
    Sheffield 11 0 —- 3

    Strange how perceptions work, no? And Steve doesn’t even appear to be particularly anti-Inge (this is in no way any kind of criticism of Steve’s post…I’m not fighting, I’m interested). And Steve was actually right in being driven crazy by the idea, if not the player: the Tigers were well below AL avg in success with runners on 2-3, and well above avg in strikeouts:

    Runners -23 AB/RBI AB/K
    AL Avg 1.86 6.09
    DET Avg 2.10 4.21

    In other words if DET had been merely avg instead of 68 RBI and 34 K they would
    have had 77 RBI and 23K. It’s not really a lot of difference if you average it over a season; on the other hand there are several other categories with similar results and they DO start adding up to something significant.

  45. Rick G

    April 6, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Couldn’t resist the Guillen trivia hunt…

    Carlos in season openers…

    1999 (Seattle) 2B
    2000 (Seattle) 3B
    2001 (Seattle) SS
    2008 (Detroit) 1B

    I have no idea if that’s any kind of record, gotta think others have done it.

    Give him long enough, he’ll be the Shane Halter of opening day!

  46. David

    April 6, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Coleman thanks for the Inge support, I remembered you posted that awhile back, but forgot while rifling through my email to add it in.

    Yea Stephen is a negative nancy and doesn’t post nearly as much as he used to, although we agree on several things.

    The one thing I’d say is that just using 2008, makes it a crazy small sample size.

    To be honest if all is true from what I’ve heard about Josh Anderson the prudent/winning move would be to have him start in LF or possibly CF (shifting Grandy over to left) and have Guillen DH daily. Thankfully Leyland is using that setup today.

    Yea I’m not a big fan of Marcus, but I’d favor him over Sheffield any day. This is just from my limited memory but I remember several times he hitting a bomb in a close game where the rest of the team struggled.

  47. scotsw

    April 6, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    David,

    I hear what you’re saying. Coulda, woulda, shoulda… Our future might look bright, but how would our present look without Cabrera? Who would have played SS last year? Where would you put all those developing arms? And were they really bad moves at the time?

    Miller should become a pretty good major-leaguer, but he’s not there yet, and it’s possible Maybin becomes a monster, but I think the rule of thumb is that you never lose a trade where you land a young guy with a career OPS+ of 140 — a number skewed lower by his rookie season when he hit for an OPS+ of a mere 109. Oh, and last year was BELOW average for him. Oh, and he flashes a nice glove at first (league-average fielder despite learning the position last year). If Willis had been OK — even a .500 pitcher — nobody would have second thoughts here.

    No use rehashing the Sheff/Renteria trades. They both seemed promising, and Sheff looked like a monster pre-injury.

    And I don’t think the cupboard is quite so bare in the minors. Lots of strong players under 30 on this team, including the whole starting rotation (plus Bonderman and maybe just maybe Willis)

  48. scotsw

    April 6, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Oh, and I see elsewhere that Humberto Sanchez, who went to the Yankees in the Sheffield deal, has yet to throw a major-league pitch and is stuck in AA. So…

    On another point, Josh Anderson’s fatal flaw thus far as a major-leaguer is an absolute inability to draw a walk, and a depressing penchant for striking out. His .364 OBP is awful for a guy who hits .315, and he has no power. You don’t bench stars like Guillen, Granderson or Ordonez in order to start him regularly. But he’s young and could develop an eye for major-league pitches.

  49. Mr. X

    April 6, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    Inge alone doesn’t make me happy, but Inge & Everett combo makes me very happy. Not many balls are going to get past these guys. I think are team ERA will be around 3.80 this season because the Defense is going to be that good. This is a completely different team than it was last year. There should be a new stat called “Defensive Saves” because it’s not necessarily how well they pitch, it’s how well they catch the ball.

  50. Mark L

    April 6, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    My laptop is burning up from all the heat generated by these debates.
    Regarding Inge and Thames, look at our opening day roster. Who do you think Leyland prefers?
    So when are they going to finish cloning Curtis Granderson?

  51. Chris in Dallas

    April 7, 2009 at 10:34 am

    “Brandon Inge will be simultaneously undervalued and overvalued by fans and the two sides will accuse each other of being Inge-apologists and Inge-haters ”

    You really went out on a limb with this one. :-)

    “Placido Polanco puts together a solid season and makes it very tough on the Tigers to decide on resigning him”

    Per recent history, he’ll get too many dollars for too many years and we’ll all hate him by 2011.

  52. David

    April 7, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    Yup that is one thing where Dombrowski could be called DUMB

    He has signed guys either right away after trading or off career years after their prime too many times in the past 3 years