That’s using all your outs

The Tigers performance with runners in scoring position of late has caused much consternation and understandably so. Sometime the failures have just been failures, but during this recent stretch a significant portion was just bad luck. It’s only fitting then that Ramon Santiago plated the go-ahead run with an “excuse-me” flop shot to left.

Brian Fuentes and the Angels were 1 strike away from escaping the 9th inning with the game tied when Santiago reached down and somehow lifted the ball into shallow left field. A good jump and secondary lead by Gerald Laird let him reach home just before the tag.

Of course this was all possible by some clutchness by Miguel Cabrera as well who crushed the 9th pitch of his lead-off at-bat to tie the game in the first place. It was also possible because Jeremy Bonderman, Eddie Bonine, and Phil Coke held the Angels scoreless after that 3 run first inning.

Bonderman had no rhythm and limited control in the first inning. But he settled in and went 6 innings and picked up a quality start. He pitched around 2 errors (one of his own) and held the Angels to 4 hits.

Jose Valverde locked it down with a Fernando Rodney (circa 2010) 1-2-3 9th inning.

  • It’s a hot button issue, so we’ll mention that the Tigers only stranded 5 and went 2 for 4 with RISP. Three of those LOB occurred when Johnny Damon was called out and then thrown out after a borderline 3rd strike. Don Kelly also lined into a bad luck double play.
  • Speaking of Kelly, he did have an error. He also made a nice diving stop. Oh yeah, and he hit his first career homer. It was also the first non-Venezuelan Tigers homer of the year.
  • Austin Jackson with 3 more strike outs. This is becoming epic.
  • Yes, Gerald Laird was used as a pinch hitter. Yes it worked out. Go figure.

34 Comments

  1. Packey

    April 22, 2010 at 1:50 am

    First off, that was a really nice/big win. Yeah, 15th game of the season, but big nonetheless. A whole lot of irony with that game winning hit, indeed.

    2 or 3 cents on Jackson’s strikeouts, or any strikeout for that matter: They count as much as Raburn’s warning track deep fly or Don Kelly’s scorcher right to the 1st basemen tonight — they’re outs. Obviously, it’d be a problem if he had opportunities to move runners forward with less than 2-outs, but any other strikeout as far as I’m concerned, is the same as any other out. Not sexy, but big whoop. Of course, we’d like to see him put the bat on the ball to increase his chances of getting on base, but as long as he’s hitting around/above .300 and getting on base like he has thus far, I could care less about the strikeouts. That walk he had, battling back from an 0-2 hole, was a great AB, btw.

    • billfer

      April 22, 2010 at 6:53 am

      I do think that strikeouts get too much grief, but Jackson is fanning at an extreme rate and he’ll need to correct it because his .300 batting average will not be sustainable if he doesn’t. If he keep K’s at this rate it would mean he’d need to keep his batting average on balls in play well above .400 (it’s at .500 right now). While his speed will help with his BABIP, that rate simply isn’t sustainable.

      • Packey

        April 22, 2010 at 3:14 pm

        True, but you can’t say his BABIP isn’t sustainable and then assume this absurd K rate is. His BABIP will fall and so will his K-rate (because if it doesn’t he’ll shatter the all-time K record by like 40). I don’t see that (shattered record) happening based off of how well he hits the ball when he does hit it.

        I guess all I’m saying at this point, as long as he IS hitting around .300, his K’s don’t really strike me as all that big of a problem.

        • andre

          April 22, 2010 at 3:35 pm

          “True, but you can’t say his BABIP isn’t sustainable and then assume this absurd K rate is.”

          His current 37.7% rate is pretty high…but even in the minors he K’d at a rate of 23.7%. I don’t know what the league-average increase tends to be from minors-to-rookie-year, but using Granderson as an example: minors = 21.8%, rookie season = 29.2%

          If the Granderson comparison is close to the norm (don’t have time to check this at the moment), it wouldn’t be shocking to see Jackson’s K-rate to hover around 30% all season.

          • Packey

            April 22, 2010 at 10:11 pm

            Nice research. I wonder if that is the norm or if Tigers CF/leadoff hitters are starting a new tradish.

        • billfer

          April 22, 2010 at 8:50 pm

          I think a lot of his line is unsustainable, including his 34% line drive rate. The thing with his K-rate though is that he’s always been a pretty prolific strike out guy and he will continue to strike out a lot. My guess is that his eventual K-rate is closer to his current than his eventual babip is to his current.

          That said, I’ve been impressed by his defense, his baserunning, and the fact he does see quite few pitches. He just needs to improve his contact rate, which I think will come in time.

          • Keith (Mr. X)

            April 22, 2010 at 9:48 pm

            Last season in the minors, AJax had a .480 BABIP going into June after 171 AB’s and finished the season with a .392 BABIP in 527 AB’s.

            http://www.minorleaguesplits.c.....?pl=457706

          • Packey

            April 22, 2010 at 10:03 pm

            His K rate has never been higher than 28% in professional baseball and that was his first full season. Every other year it was 22%, 22%, and 24%. Even if his rate increases like Granderson’s did with the jump to the bigs, he’s still almost 10% lower than what he’s at right now.

  2. Jud

    April 22, 2010 at 2:37 am

    I agree . I don’t care if he strikes out everytime he makes an out if he hits .310 and is on base .390. What difference does it make how u make the outs. They are outs. There are plenty of guys hitting .150 that make real nice outs. I’ll take Jackson

    • Kevin in Dallas

      April 22, 2010 at 11:08 am

      Makes a huge difference. Other than the DP, strikeouts are the worst kind of outs. First of all, you eliminate any chance of moving runners along. Secondly, you eliminate any chance of error in the field. A guy like Austin Jackson is probably going to get on base an extra 25-35 times per year from infield hits and errors caused by his speed. We need contact for that to happen.

      Finally, K’s have an emotional toll – positive for the pitcher, and negative for the batter.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with Jackson. But I disagree with the sentiment that Ks do not matter.

      • andre

        April 22, 2010 at 11:28 am

        “Finally, K’s have an emotional toll – positive for the pitcher, and negative for the batter.”

        Agreed, although I personally think he’s just trying to get his first ‘Golden Sombrero’ out of the way early so he doesn’t have that hanging over his head. PUN!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Packey

        April 22, 2010 at 3:19 pm

        Yeah, not moving runners over is really the only problem I have with K’s. Errors are rare so that’s a very minor chance.

      • Keith (Mr. X)

        April 22, 2010 at 3:36 pm

        IMO, hitting an infield pop-up or a weak chopper back to the mound on the 1st or 2nd pitch is worse than striking out.

        Yesterday, in 4 PA’s AJax saw 25 pitches. The day before that, he saw 29 pitches in 5 PA’s. If he keeps working the counts like this, it’s going to keep helping the team, even if he is striking out.

        An interesting thing about Jackson is that he has only 1 infield pop-out this season (which was on the 5th pitch) and he hasn’t hit a chopper back to the pitcher yet. As for ground outs, he has only 1 ground out to the right side of the infield.

        He’s really just striking out instead of making a bunch of nearly automatic outs on balls in play. That’s probably why his BABIP is so high. If his K’s go down, he’ll probably just start making easy outs instead, and then his BABIP will go down also.

        • andre

          April 22, 2010 at 4:02 pm

          “He’s really just striking out instead of making a bunch of nearly automatic outs on balls in play.”

          I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve revised your statement:

          “He’s really just [making a bunch of automatic outs] instead of making a bunch of nearly automatic outs on balls in play.”

          You again:
          “If his K’s go down, he’ll probably just start making easy outs instead, and then his BABIP will go down also.”

          So, after having just pointed out how few of his actual hits are easy outs, you’re saying that most of his Ks were destined to be just that? I think its high time for you to create a new stat for Ks-that-would-have-been-outs-anyways. Like a “moral-victory K”.

          • Keith (Mr. X)

            April 22, 2010 at 6:46 pm

            I kind of figured that someone would nitpick and say that K’s are automatic outs too. That’s why I didn’t post a similar message last night after the game.

            The main strategy of almost every pitcher is to have the hitter hit the ball into their defense. A strikeout is just a secondary strategy for some pitchers when they get ahead in the count and get 2 strikes.

            There are no popular stats for pitcher induced outs, other than K’s. I do have stats and rankings for something like this on one of my spreadsheets. Last season, the best pitcher in baseball at getting 2 strikes, then inducing outs other than K’s was ……Joel Pineiro. He also had the best groundball/flyball ratio and fewest pitches per Plate Appearance. He’s one of the best and the most under-rated pitcher in the game. What an amazing turn around he’s had with his career. It’s guys like him why I love baseball so much.

            As for Austin Jackson, it appears one of his tendencies is too rarely hit infield pop-ups or ground-outs to the right side of the infield. It’s just my assumption to think that if he struck out less, that he’d make some other kind of easy out instead. Otherwise, he’d be the 2nd coming of Ty Cobb and hit around .400.

            • andre

              April 22, 2010 at 7:58 pm

              “As for Austin Jackson, it appears one of his tendencies is too rarely hit infield pop-ups or ground-outs to the right side of the infield. It’s just my assumption to think that if he struck out less, that he’d make some other kind of easy out instead.”

              I’m not trying to be negative, but on the one hand you’re saying that: when he makes contact (which is how I should have phrased it, instead of “actual hits”), he’s rarely hitting into easy outs…but on the other hand you feel like his ABs ending in Ks were destined to be easy outs…

              That’s fine, but it seems contradictory. No doubt his BABIP will likely come down some but, uh, I’m like unsold on your less Ks = same # of outs. Even if your assumption were true, that non-Ks become weak hit balls, as Kevin in Dallas points out, Jackson’s speed would presumably lead to in-field hits in some of those cases.

              “I kind of figured that someone would nitpick and say that K’s are automatic outs too.”

              One then wonders why they were favorably compared to probable outs.

              • Keith (Mr. X)

                April 22, 2010 at 8:14 pm

                I’m just not a good enough writer to make you understand what I’m thinking. I’m trying to explain that the closest thing to a swing and miss is to too barely put some wood on the ball and either popping it up or dribbling it back to the pitcher. Is that understandable at all?

              • Keith (Mr. X)

                April 22, 2010 at 8:17 pm

                K’s are only favorable if those pop-ups or weak grounders to pitcher are hit on 1st or 2nd pitch! If a hitter works the count and hits a pop-up on a latter pitch, then it is no longer favorable.

  3. jason

    April 22, 2010 at 6:56 am

    What a great win. It was worth staying up for. And how about the irony of Laird pinch hitting and then scoring the winning run from second on a close play at the plate? Its one of the least likely scenarios I could come up with.

  4. kathy

    April 22, 2010 at 7:09 am

    After Johnny’s temper tantrum, the Tigers seemed to come to life. It was good to see someone lose their composure and show emotion on a pitch that was at least 3 inches off the inside of the plate. Well, we had to have Miggy’s HR, but finally the bottom of the order picked us up.

  5. andre

    April 22, 2010 at 10:44 am

    So, the Tigs were 6-2 when I went on vacation. They proceed to go 1-5 while I’m away, and so that shame is mine. But lo and behold, they’re undefeated since I came back. You’re welcome Detroit, and I promise not to ever go on vacation during baseball season again.

  6. KW

    April 22, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Billfer, what are you doing to the site layout? Busy images everywhere, lots of clutter, a rotating marquee at the top now…ahhh! Sensory overload!

    • billfer

      April 22, 2010 at 11:06 am

      Too much? That’s okay. I do want feedback. The clutter that is advertisements will stay unfortunately, especially the items in the sidebar. If those go the whole site goes. This isn’t a big money grab by me, but I pay over $1000 a year for hosting. The amazon/stubhub adds may or may not stay.

      Beyond that though, I’m just always looking for ways to tweak and improve the site trying to keep a few elements in mind. I want it to be easy to use, I want it to be aesthetically pleasing, and I want it to load quickly (probably in that order). Some of the newer elements are functionality I wasn’t able to deploy before, but I can now so I’m playing with it. Feedback on Twitter and Facebook yesterday was mostly positive but I’m going to continue to monitor, test, and tweak things.

      • KW

        April 22, 2010 at 12:08 pm

        The ads don’t bother me so much, but the old posts along the very top of the page, along with the new autoplay previous posts thing, seems a bit much. It’s confusing to navigate when content is repeated 2 or 3 times on one page.

        Just curious–is there a reason why you’re paying $1000+ for hosting. Liquid Web is awesome, but there are a ton of cheap and reliable hosting options out there.

        And thanks for replying. I realize it’s off-topic for this thread and you could’ve easily just told me to shut up.

        • Kevin in Dallas

          April 22, 2010 at 1:01 pm

          I’m with KW, billfer. I don’t mind the advertising at all (and I’m actually about to pull the trigger on a few of the “Down with Detroit” t-shirts).

          As far as the blog goes – I preferred the previous links in the horizontal text versions, instead of the vertical boxes. Also, I really like the slide-show, but perhaps you could put that under the most recent post.

          In the end though, you could make it pink and use comic sans, and it I’d still check in several times per day.

        • jason

          April 22, 2010 at 3:35 pm

          I remember Billfer mentioning Liquidweb is based in Michigan, and that was a major factor in his decision. I don’t know what else went into him picking them.

  7. jud

    April 22, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    I enjoy your creativity!

  8. Stormin Norman $

    April 22, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Question: seeing as the Tigers have a game in TX tomorrow, why aren’t they playing a day game today against the Angels? …can anyone think of a better answer than good old fashioned ‘greed’?

    Depending on the length of tonight’s game, i don’t see them landing at DFW until after 3AM CST. Advantage Rangers… hopefully Scherzer is already there.

  9. Coleman

    April 22, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    Wow, not even Tiger-related, but I can’t help having a moment of sympathy here for the Pirates. What must it be like to endure a 20 – 0 game? (Although only 18 of the runs were earned, so there’s that). That pretty much blows up the team pitching stats until about June.

    • Keith (Mr. X)

      April 22, 2010 at 6:54 pm

      That’s life. I’ve been on worse teams myself. I’d rather play everyday for a sucky team than be a bench warmer for a championship team.

  10. Jen

    April 22, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    Hey Billfer, I like the image at the top of this post, wondering whether you photoshopped it yourself.

    Also, I think a lot of what Ajax has been doing (on both sides of the ball) has helped me not to fret too much about the K rate, but of course, hoping it comes down as he works his way through his first major league season.

    Always, great content and conversation here.

  11. Keith (Mr. X)

    April 22, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    Austin Jackson currently leads all CF’s in UZR.
    http://www.fangraphs.com/leade.....38;month=0
    He also currently has a better WAR than Granderson.
    http://www.fangraphs.com/leade.....38;month=0
    Not bad for a rookie.

    • Shane Trapped in Toledo

      April 22, 2010 at 10:07 pm

      It is hard to judge UZR and WAR this early in the season, but so far Jackson has been doing a really good job. I do not know if his numbers will hold over the season, but as of this point he has been great despite the strikeouts.