Game 2013.21: Braves at Tigers

10-10, 2nd place, 1.5 games behind KC.

On the heels of an incredibly disappointing 1-5 stretch, the Tigers welcome the best team in baseball thus far, the Atlanta Braves, to the D. The Braves are 15-6 and an incredible 9-4 on the road. Their early season success is entirely attributable to their sparkling pitching. You ready for this?

Team ERA: 2.52 (Tigers: 3.91)

Team WHIP: 1.13 (1.33)

Team BAA: .230 (.252)

BB/9: 2.42 (3.37)

On the other side of the field, their team batting average is only .250 (.269), but the Braves are near the top of the league in slugging at .446, which adds up to a strong .772 team OPS. I found this to be fascinating..unfortunately this led me to an inspection of Tigers’ slugging numbers.

The Tigers have the third best team BA (.269), but the team’s .372 slugging percentage is 23rd in the Majors. The Tigers vaunted offense is in the bottom 5 of the league in HR and 2B. Avila, VMart and Dirks have a combined 5 XBH between them in 185 ABs. Which is six less than Prince Fielder has in 74 ABs. This is very simple. Two of Avila, VMart and Dirks have to get to average production (let’s say a .400 slugging), else we’re going to have a few more stretches like last week. Note, I’m not asking for them to be above-average players. But a .270/.340/.400/.740 slash line is expected. Martinez and Dirks have ISO numbers of .027 and .021, respectively. Avila’s is a respectable .097, but that’s only because his avg. and OBP are so terrible.

Yes, it’s early, and these rankings are largely a result of a historically awful offensive week. But the numbers are painful to look at nonetheless.

Things won’t get any easier this weekend. The Tigers face a nasty lefthander tonight in Paul Maholm. Maholm has been nearly unhittable in 2013, posting a microscopic 1.03 ERA and .87 WHIP while compiling a 3-1 record in 4 starts this year. The Tigers simply can’t hit lefties (.206/.299/.312/.611 – all at the very bottom of the bigs) so make sure you have a few extra cold ones on hand tonight.

I’ve got to head down to Austin this afternoon for a meeting, so someone please post the lineups when they are avail.