Detroit Tigers: 22-15, 1st Place (1.5 ahead of Cleveland)
Well, as I promised, here comes more about where the Tigers are after two “innings” of the 2013 season, or 2/9 of the season if you prefer. It may be a bit unwieldy for a game post; perhaps you may wish to save it for a rainy evening in front of the fireplace with a glass of port (or is it brandy?) and your Alsatian (or is it an Irish Wolfhound?) by your side.
In a nutshell: so far the starting pitching has been very good, the relief pitching not so much, and the overall pitching better than last season. Surprisingly though, the number show that the relief pitching has been better than last year (I’ll pause to let that sink in). And don’t bother trying to hit a home run against Detroit.
The Tigers have been incredibly consistent with about .4 unearned runs per game. The defensive efficiency this season (the percentage of balls in play converted to outs) is .678. Last season it was .678.
I included this because it is something you rarely hear mentioned, but the Tigers have a long run of being difficult to take out of the park. (Some of that, of course, is due to playing in park that is a bit home run unfriendly).
Splits by Starter/Reliever:
So yes, the reliever WHIP (which is a better measure for relievers than ERA) has dropped a little from last season. And when you look at the Walks part of the WHIP, you see the Tigers have given up the 4th most (they were 9th last season). When you add in that Tiger relievers lead the league in reliever strikeouts (they were 11th last season), you realize that the “H” part of the WHIP is not a problem. They are not getting hit, they are just walking too many. Either way, as a group they are performing a bit better than last season.
In a nutshell: the Tigers overall rate at or near the top in most hitting categories, notably in On Base Percentage. So far the big weakness in the lineup–just like last season–is at the DH spot.
If anything, these numbers just make me feel like last year’s team was a bit underperforming–with a Triple Crown winner in the lineup, they only managed 6th in runs per game?
The interesting part of the OPS numbers is looking at which component the Tigers excel in:
If you were to listen to the common chatter you would come away with a picture of the Tigers as an aggressive, free-swinging team that strikes out a lot, and never works pitchers for walks. But the numbers say:
This is not to say they are not aggressive. When they aren’t walking they appear to be swinging away: their Pitches Per Plate Appearance has been among the lowest in the league (I’m not sure how that works with all the walks). Notably, it has gotten higher this season:
Some of that is due to Victor Martinez, who is seeing a career high, and team-leading 4.13 PPA. Hmm, perhaps Victor should start hacking away. At any rate the Tiger DH this year has an even worse OPS than last season:
Oh, and one last thing. Where have all the double-play balls gone?:
Well, all that aside, this afternoon the Tigers go for the sweep of the 7-game season series with the Houston Astros. Max Scherzer will take the broom to the mound for Detroit, while the Astros will try to confuse the Tigers with a Houston pitcher named Dallas.
Today’s Player of the Pre-game: Omar Infante responded to yesterday’s POPG nod with a 2-3 night. I know a good thing when I stumble upon it. It’s Omar leading off today as Player of the Pre-Game, he of the ridiculous and league-leading .426 home field batting average.
Today’s Tui-Avi-Torii Lineup: