Game 2013.67: Tigers at Twins

Detroit Tigers: 37-29, 1st Place (4.5 ahead of Cleveland). 

Here are a few of the things that we know, statistically, about the Detroit Tiger offense at this point in the season:

  • They struggle on the road (.259/.726, vs. .302/.825 at home).
  • They are more likely than most teams to score 2 runs or fewer (18 times so far).
  • They are more likely than most teams to score 7 runs or more (21 times so far).
  • They struggle mightily in late innings, particularly in late and close situations (league worst; see yesterday’s post).

Let’s set aside the more specific late and close statistics for now, and just look at the overall late inning statistics. In innings 7-9 the Tiger hitters come out 14th best in OPS out of 15 teams (luckily that 15th team is Cleveland):

  • BA: .220 (13th)
  • OB: .276 (8th)
  • SLG: .313 (15th)
  • OPS: .622 (14th)
  • Runs: 57 (15th)

So once it hits the 7th inning, the Detroit Tigers become the American League team least likely to score. It has been said that the bullpen problems put pressure on the hitters. Doesn’t it seem likely that knowing that there are no more runs coming from the offense also puts pressure on the bullpen?

Here are the individual numbers, ranked by OPS, for inning 7-9 hitting:

  1. .286/.929 Tuiasosopo
  2. .254/.853 Cabrera
  3. .266/.791 Fielder
  4. .274/.714 Infante
  5. .245/.656 Dirks
  6. .254/.649 Peralta
  7. .235/.611 Martinez
  8. .184/.525 Avila
  9. .195/.511 Jackson
  10. .222/.489 Pena
  11. .200/.471 Garcia
  12. .138/.458 Kelly
  13. .113/.376 Hunter
  14. .067/.243 Santiago

Quick reaction: let’s have more Tuiasosopo!

You’ll notice above that On Base is the only category in which the Tigers are decent (8th). In other words, somebody is getting a lot of late inning walks. Those somebodies are Cabrera (14) and Fielder (12), which is why they are so high up on the OPS ranking. In other words, once it gets late in games, teams are pretty much done pitching to those two.

Apparently they have plenty bases open by the time Cabrera comes up, with Hunter struggling with a .214 late inning on base percentage. Torii was the biggest surprise for me when I pulled these numbers up. Here are his splits:

  • Innings 1-3: .416/1.004
  • Innings 4-6: .273/.681
  • Innings 7-9: .113/.376

So there it is, over the course of a game Torii Hunter goes from a .400 hitter to an average hitter to a pitcher trying to bat. Is it fatigue? He seems to have lost a step in the outfield. Maybe Leyland knows what he is doing giving Hunter frequent days off?

*****

Today Doug Fister takes on the Pajama Man, P.J. Walters. These two faced off on May 25, where Walters bested Fister in a 3-2 victory, sprinkling 8 hits over 6 innings. Pena had a big game against Walters (3-for-4), and Peralta hit a solo shot. Walters has pitched well since then, and has a 2.49 ERA for the season. As in his first outing against Detroit, guys do get on base against him–his WHIP is 1.46–but they don’t seem to score. Fister has his fingers crossed–the Tigers have put up a total of 4 runs in his last 4 starts.

*****

Today’s Player of the Pre-game:  Let’s go with Dad here. Happy Father’s Day everybody!

Today’s Where’s Pena? Lineup:

  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Hunter, RF
  3. Cabrera, 3B
  4. Fielder, DH
  5. Martinez, 1B
  6. Peralta, SS
  7. Dirks, LF
  8. Infante, 2B
  9. Avila, C

No, that is not a mistake, Avila gets the start again, despite Pena having the 3-for-4 day against Walters May 25. I guess Avila is “due.”

82 thoughts on “Game 2013.67: Tigers at Twins”

  1. Great info Coleman, some eye opening (and mindboggling) stats re: DET’s late inning offensive woes. Whatever weaknesses this team has (and clearly there are some), we can all take solace in fact that they’re in the AL Central – “so I got that goin’ for me…which is nice” –Carl Spackler

    1. One gets the impression from the stats above (great job, Coleman, details I hadn’t investigated) that after 2-3 at bats, the hitters feel like they’ve done their part and call it a day. This is often reinforced by what you see at the plate. Although maybe that’s reading what I already know into what I see when the outcome is unfavorable. Hard tellin’.

      It’s hard to believe Hunter (or anyone) could be physically fatigued at the plate from mostly standing around in the outfield. Maybe it’s mental fatigue.

      1. Going by WPCT, the Tigers project to 91-71. Going by games over .500, it’s 85-77. Split the difference, it’s 2012. Isn’t this team much, much, much better than the 2012 version?

        I don’t think 85-77 wins the Central, weak as it may be.

        1. An interesting thought. I think a claim could be made that they have overall better players this year, but as a team maybe not. I think there may be something at work here that can’t be defined by purely statistical analysis. They seem to be lacking the mysterious “It”. Drive, desire, will to win, etc., are all nebulous but nevertheless real components necessary for success. You can’t just depend on talent. Encouraging those areas are where the manager comes in IMO. Casey Stengel, in the heyday of the Yankees, for example, was a master at squeezing that little bit of extra out of his players.

          1. They don’t act like an unhappy or tired or fractious team. Sometimes things just don’t go well no matter how you try.

            The Tigers get tripped up by some little things sometimes. These times stand out in memory and make us think they are “lacking in fundamentals,” etc.. But I’ve seen it work both ways. Chance and luck play a big part in baseball, too. Never easy to tell which sort of luck your team is “due” for.

            1. The cameraderie is there. But the 7-9 fail is not a little thing, it has been going on all season. Something is amiss there and it isn’t necessarily lack in fundamentals either. Focus? Anyway weird and I hope it goes away.

    2. For me, with the addition of an extra playoff team now, winning the division, especially so if it is a weak one, isn’t as important as it used to be. They need to be good in relation to the best teams in the league to have real legitimacy, not just the division.

  2. Strange about Pena not starting, Last series, there was talk of a few days off for Avila. And now he’s started every game against the Twins. Not getting it, even beyond the Pena 3 for 4 off Walters thing.

    1. It’s only strange if you are looking at it calmly and rationally. The criticism has been building on Leyland for a while now and he doesn’t handle pressure very well. He’ll go with his gut more, so contradicting himself shouldn’t be a surprise. If they lose today, watch his head spin.

      1. At least Avila is batting #9 now. That’s a step in the right direction. Wouldn’t mind seeing Peralta moved up to #5 and Martinez coming down a peg or two. 32 RBI, woo-hoo! Ramon Santiago would have 32 RBI batting behind Cabrera and Fielder.

        1. I agree, and in fact wouldn’t mind if Martinez actually sat for a few games (or at least occasionally) in favor of You-Know-Whui. Avila should be batting 26th. Anyway, don’t hold your breath.

    1. Not exactly on the same level as being remembered for back-to-back no-hitters, but better than being remembered for all those strikeouts.

      1. Brandon needs everything he can get. I think popping his separated shoulder back into its socket (while with the A’s) will end up topping everything in Legend Of Inge lore, though.

        1. That happened when he was with the Tigers too. Maybe he has the record for that also.

  3. Trevor Plouffe is 6 for 17 with an OPS of 1.300, 2 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 4 BB, against the Tigers this season.

  4. For PHToy:

    The Tigers bullpen has allowed the fewest inherited runners to score in the AL at 22. In terms of percentage they are in the middle at 29% (league avg. = 30%). Coke and Downs are the current champions of the IRS with 10 runs between them (nearly 50% of the team total) and each at a 33% rate.

    The Tigers bullpen problem is allowing their own runners to score. They’ve been charged with 32.9% of the runs (and 40.9% of the HR) in 31.4% of the innings.

    Check this out: The Tigers have pitched relievers on consecutive days the fewest times of any team in the AL at 25. They are at the top in pitches per relief appearance at 20. Hmmm.

    1. “They are at the top in pitches per relief appearance at 20”.

      I wonder if this has always been so in the Leyland era. One of my beefs with his bullpen management over the years has been leaving guys in too long (especially the “role” guys). Now 20 pitches doesn’t seem like a lot, but when they are generally in only for an inning… On the other hand, you could have a long man come in and throw 50 pitches, so that would throw the average off.

      1. You only have to look at the starting rotation to know that the Tigers have used long relief far less than the average, so the average pitches per relief appearance wouldn’t be driven up that much by this factor.

        Yes, I think Leyland does leave the relievers in too long on many occasions, and the relievers themselves are inefficient, very often (though I can’t statistically verify this at the moment) falling behind in the count, being fouled off endlessly and unable to put away batters, etc.. Besides giving up hits and runs, which also costs pitches. To their credit, high K rate contributes as well, I’m sure.

    2. SL – Thanks for the excellent analysis. The IRS data is surprising!

      Maybe the blow-pen is not really all that bad and most of late-inning losses are due to the lack of late-inning offense – as evidenced by the lousy record in extra inning games.

      1. Yes, I found the IRS a bit surprising myself. Earlier in the season, it wasn’t looking so good. I can’t give exact figures, but I’m quite sure that most of the inherited runs allowed to score have been inherited from other relievers. This is because Tigers starters rarely (as compared to average) come out of games mid-inning.

        The blow-pen is not as bad as we think, and the late-inning offense is a factor, but it’s clear enough that the Tigers haven’t had the kind of bullpen their starters deserve. Starting pitching has carried the Tigers more than anything else so far. Imagine how they could start rolling if either the bullpen or the hitting became that consistent.

  5. theres only one reason Avila is catching today…Mumbles knows everyone is (expletive) about it and this is Mumbles I will show you who the (Expletive) boss is

  6. It looks like VMart has better defensive abilities at fist than Prince ….. how long would his legs hold out if he played on a regular basis?

      1. I think Prince is pretty sharp at 1B, but V-Mart has also been good there every time out, I must say. I need to back off the claim that he’s good for nothing if he doesn’t hit. He was *really* good at 1B today.

        The Tigers have at least 5 guys who can play a position where no backup is necessary. Plus Jordan Lennerton at Toledo. That’s funny. Then again, I suppose most teams have a good 4 guys who can play 1B.

        1. Tui and Lennerton might make a good platoon at DH, with Lennerton a fill-in at 1B and Tui also able to play 1B, as well as 3B and LF. Maybe next year.

            1. Yeah you’re right. I thought this was the last year. Wishful thinking on my part I guess. So both V-Mart and Hunter will be plugging up the roster next year, making it difficult to see how we can easily insert some young, fresh (and cheap) blood into the roster. Well, that’s a ways off. Better not to think about that until after the World Series (hopefully).

    1. At one point early in the season, we had the best production from the #9 slot, so maybe finally realized that that was were Avila needed to be to get him going.

  7. Lots of groundouts today.

    Pointless statistical comparison: Who would you rather have as your regular catcher?

    Since May 1
    John Buck (he of the fast start who lead the NL in HR early on): .200/.278/.283/.561 (2 HR ,10 RBI in 129 PA)
    Alex Avila (he of the slow start and slow middle): .146/.271/.247/.518 (2 HR, 10 RBI in 105 PA) Note the higher OBA than SLG – how often does that happen.

    1. Leyland was trying to avoid the typical Avila ground-ball to 2nd double play. This was at least a more entertaining double play, like the Avila bunt-into-DP variety was.

  8. total Leyland 101 start yyour runners with the guy who leads your team in K’s…his rational will be “you guys are (Expletive) cause I never try anything….well (expletive) take that!!!

    1. I didn’t see the lead/break by Infante. Not sure if that was a difference maker. Of course, the hope was for contact, and Avila is the last guy you want for contact. This wasn’t the time for a “get him going” hit and run, for certain.

  9. Happy Father’s Day DTW Dads.

    We gotta win series. On our way, hopefully the pen can hold a 3 run lead. Though Fister may have 9 in him today.

  10. We are in the Tigers Dead Zone with only a 3-run lead. That puts us close (no pun intended) to Expletive Deleted Valverde territory.

  11. The walk to Florimon provides a good example of a starter being removed a batter too late. Leyland has this thing about letting or making pitchers finish innings. Following the double by Dozier, it was an excellent time for a Coke or Downs to come in against Florimon. I’d call this an example of bullpen mismanagement.

    1. Followed by the obligatory “8th Inning Guy” instead of a LOOGY to pitch to Thomas – Coke or Smyly in this instance because Downs would be worn out (2 days in a row is a no-no) from yesterday’s action.

      1. That two days in a row is a no-no is so stupid. It has proven to… what? Keep the bullpen “fresh”? Is Leyland paralyzed by the fear of possibly going 18 innings and running out of relievers? I thought that’s why Kelly was around.

        1. With the 7-end offense we don’t need to worry about going 18 innings and running out of relievers.

    1. Every Twin seems to join this club at one time or another during the course of a season.

  12. Fister has been screwed by the bullpen too many times. I am turning off the game now. I will check the score in 30-45 minutes. I hate to admit I fully expect another late game loss. Will anything be learned ever by upper management? Will they ever decide that a relief pitcher is even more important than .for, example, Jhonny P? I really think so.any comments? Can’t the team give up some serious assets to find someone reliable?

    1. I was only briefly interested during the offseason in the Tigers going outside to find a closer. No interest in it now or for the duration of the season.

      1. I agree. The bullpen is OK if it is managed properly. And with mismanagement, adding another arm won’t make any difference.

    1. It looked to me like it hit him on the inside forearm just below the wrist, not on the bones. That’s a painful thing, probably a really bad bruise that will force him to miss some time, but better than it could have turned out. Just my take, not sure about this.

  13. TV off I Am outta here..not enough of a lead for me…..and by the way how can Pena not make it allthe way fromfirst to second on a wild pitch!!!..could be a huge run

    1. This wasn’t a WP Pena could have advanced on under the circumstances. Watch it again.

    1. amazing concept; use you best reliever in the 9th inning in a close (or semi-close) game.

      1. I got a kick out of Leyland saying post-game that he went with Benoit in the ninth because he liked his repertoire of pitches better than Valverde’s in that particular setting.

        No (expletive deleted) Sherlock!

        1. Too funny. Repertoire of pitches. I wonder what constituted “that particular setting.” A situation where something other than a fastball might be effective?

  14. Nice to see Jackson back and seemingly all the way back. Different feel with him in the lineup. Not a myth at all, though I had to smile at Rod Allen saying that the team gets off the bus in a different way when Jackson is in the lineup. (Does he exit leadoff?)

  15. Congrats to Avila for hutting for the cycle..double..single..HBP….hey were not talking Mike Trout here!

    1. BAL & BOS will be the real test. Although LAA is a mess, you can’t count them out either. A poor showing in the first 7 games could set us up for a real catastrophe (Cat’s afta me?). This is a very important home stand and we’ll see what JL and these Tigers are made of.

      1. Tonight’s starter for the Orioles, Arrieta, was a guy I was a bit interested in over the offseason as part of some Peralta for Hardy deal. Interested to see him pitch. Of course, I hope he stinks against the Tigers.

  16. LAA is one hot mess, but they’re 3-0 vs DET this year.

    Despite DET having favorable starting pitching matchups against BAL & BOS, i’d be happy with a 5-5 home stand…hopefully they exceed my expectations.

    1. And unlike the Tigers, the Red Sox and Orioles are two teams that actually “slug it”. Hopefully 4-3 vs. those two and then payback time for the Angels.

      1. For the time being they can get by with an 11-man staff because the starters all go so deep and (considering Leyland leaves the relievers in too long – 😉 ) there isn’t a need for 7 relievers provided JL isn’t afraid to pitch somebody two days in a row once in a while. The other possibility is that they DFA Tui who isn’t playing that much anyway – just kidding. I would actually be very surprised if they went with an 11-man staff for long though, since this I think this would make JL very very nervous.

        I am eager to see how we do with Pena as the regular catcher. I hope Avila isn’t seriously injured, but maybe the HBP will turn out to be a “silver lining” event. Though I don’t expect much punch from Holaday, maybe Avila will get straightened out during his layoff/rehab. You have to hope something good comes of this.

        Sanchez going back on the DL is the troubling news. Hopefully Alvarez fills in adequately while he is out. And having a LH in the rotation isn’t a bad thing.

  17. Sanchez troubling, yes. A run of 67 games with only one “soreness” missed start before a starter hits the DL is pretty remarkable, though. Lucky stars.

    I think a rehab assignment at Toledo of, oh, 30 to 60 days, maybe more, might be in order for Avila when he come’s off the DL. Might “get him going.” Regular at bats, that sort of thing, Plus, you can’t hurry a bruised wrist. Might have to shut him down for the season. Did wonders for V-Mart.

    I’m interested in seeing how Pena handles being the de facto starter for a while. With you on the hope something good comes of this, not serious on wishing Avila to be completely gone.

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