Justin Verlander set a good example for young Drew Smyly, and callously shut down the Oakland A’s offense. That’s the way to deal when your own team can’t score runs.
Today’s surprise prediction: Smyly has his first shaky outing, but the offense will more than make up for it.
A lot of things have gone wrong with the offense. Miguel Cabrera went on a career worst slump, followed by an unprecedented, and ongoing, Fielder slump (0-22 and counting). They can’t score a runner from third with less than 2 out, they can’t bunt a runner up (it used to be every .200 hitter could bunt and run…not so much anymore). And then there is Ryan Raburn.
Raburn has been awful. And if past history is any guide, there is no reason to expect much improvement any time soon. For those who missed it, Raburn has been consistently awful in May (BA/OBP/SLG/OPS)
(2012 numbers through 5/13)
In other words, as bad as he has been, he is having a career best May.
Leyland says he is going to keep playing him, no matter what (OK…maybe. But batting him 6th? Seriously?): “I’ve got to get him going, and I’m going to give him the opportunity to get going. That’s why he’s playing.”
As Jamie Samuelsen says: “Leyland needs Raburn to hit. And the only way that he knows how to get him to hit is to keep rolling him out there. Why he thinks that strategy applies to Raburn and didn’t apply to players like Brandon Inge, Ramon Santiago or Don Kelly is something only Leyland knows. But it’s not going to change, at least not soon.”
Furthermore, if it is an established pattern that Raburn hits only after the All-Star break (Raburn is a career .300 hitter in the 2nd half), why in the world would it seem like playing him more now is a good idea?
Jason Back says that “Raburn is like a stock at 52-wk low but with history of beating 2nd and 3rd-qtr estimates. Maddening to own, panic move to sell.”
So what to do? You tell me.
Today’s Player of the Pre-game: Gerald Laird. Laird is one of only 3 Tigers hitting .300, has shown surprising baserunning abilities, and may be one of the best minor moves of the offseason.