82-60, first place, 5.5 games ahead of the Indians (violation of agreement, currently under review).
We need a replacement for the “good game” cliche. Let’s go with well-played loss. Losing 4-3 gives the Royals the series edge at 8-7 and drops Detroit’s record to 15-21 in one-run games.
Duffy didn’t throw enough strikes for the Tigers to hit, and apparently their bats rusted quickly (5 hits overall on the night). When you insist on allowing Royals to reach, you can expect some stress from KC’s smartball attack, which might result in either a gutsy win or a gutsy loss. One oops that Salvador Perez put into the left field stands made it a gutsy loss for Verlander, who didn’t pitch badly at all. Big fail for the Tigers was Torii “No Plate Discipline” Hunter, who crapped out on two big runners-on opportunities, to bookend Fielder’s popout with the bases loaded against Wade Davis. Verlander and the pen kept it close. Put this one down on the hitters, yesterday’s heroes.
In the bottom of the first, Brayan Pena overthrew the throw back to the mound. Fortunately, Ramon Santiago was backing up the play. I was as confused as everyone on the field when baserunner Emilio Bonifacio, who had been on first base, walked back to the KC dugout after sliding into second. Apparently the play was ruled a “caught stealing.” I’ll have to look that one up. Oh, there it is, under “Perez, Salvador.” Really – great job, Brayan.
Speaking of great jobs, the gem was Fielder to Pena to nail Lough at the plate. Perfection. That calls to mind a play from Friday that didn’t get enough recognition, another play at the plate involving another good stop from Fielder but a high throw that a leaping Avila turned into an out. A play like that makes up for a bowl of strikeouts. A small bowl. Which wouldn’t include the terrible swing at ball four from Holland in last night’s game. Very bad at a very bad time, and this from a guy who knows the strike zone. But back to defense last night: Fielder was sharp (everyone was) on a 3-6-1 beauty, and Santiago turned a flashy play at SS worthy of Iglesias, albeit with less fanfare.
Nick Castellanos’s “first MLB hit” will be overturned as an error on 1B Eric Hosmer.
Looking over my stats on the starters from yesterday yielded a few interesting things, in combination with things I already know:
1. There’s a kind of “Pythagorean record” for pitchers you can derive from it.
SANCHEZ should be 14-9, is 13-7
VERLANDER should be 14-12, is 12-10 (not including last night)
FISTER should be 13-9, is 12-7
SCHERZER should be 21-4, is 19-2
PORCELLO should be 15-9, is 11-8
“Should be” is a rather simple take on leaving with a lead or a deficit. But everything is pretty close to actual… except for Porcello. I think I’ve been too hard on Rick. The bullpen has allowed more of his runners to score, I suspect, and both bats and bullpen have let him down at an above-average rate. I hereby declare Porcello to be Best Fifth Starter In The AL Or Portions Thereof.
2. Fister is the king of both lack of run support and squandering what support he gets.
3. The Tigers bullpen sure does give up a lot of runs, and most of them are their own. They were also 14-21 last time I checked, which speaks for itself.
4. The Tigers starters sure don’t leave the game down in the score very often, and give the hitters some credit there.
Which reminds me to present the threatened list:
New York Yankees 7, Detroit 0
Oakland 4, Detroit 3 (12)
Seattle 2, Detroit 0
Los Angeles Angels 8, Detroit 1
Los Angeles Angels 10, Detroit 0
Los Angeles Angels 4, Detroit 3 (13)
Kansas City 8, Detroit 3 (10)
Washington 3. Detroit 1
Cleveland 4, Detroit 3 (10)
Pittsburgh 1, Detroit 0 (11)
Pittsburgh 1, Detroit 0 (11)
Tampa Bay 3, Detroit 0
Kansas City 3, Detroit 2 (10)
Los Angeles Angels 3, Detroit 1 (10)
Tampa Bay 4, Detroit 3 (10)
Tampa Bay 3, Detroit 1
Texas 7, Detroit 1
Kansas City 1, Detroit 0
New York Yankees 4, Detroit 3 (10)
Chicago White Sox 4, Detroit 3 (11)
Kansas City 2, Detroit 1
Kansas City 3, Detroit 0
Cleveland 4, Detroit 0
Boston 2, Detroit 1
Ouch. Look how many times Kansas City is on it.
I don’t have numbers to prove it, but I believe that defense has actually become a strength of the Detroit Tigers, Don’t tell them I said that.
Tuiasosopo’s strikeout rate is beginning to reach the Red Zone, or should we say Avila Zone. Martinez and Infante are outstanding on an outstanding team at avoiding the strikeout.
6 Tigers regulars are above-average in line drive %. Tops is Jackson at 29%. Cabrera, Dirks (very good news), Fielder, Martinez, and Infante are also there. Kelly is even closer to the bottom than he used to be at 18%.
22% of all baserunners present score when Cabrera is at the plate. Tuiasosopo is next at 18%. Well below league average at 10% and less are Santiago, Dirks, and Iglesias.
The unchallenged king of the GIDP is Martinez – 19% of opps. Meanwhile, all the Tigers left fielders are excellent at avoiding it.
Scoring after reaching base is partly a function of who bats behind you, but Jackson’s 48% is still outstanding. Pena looks like he can really chugalug for a catcher, but the numbers tell a different story. 19%.
Only Cabrera, Tuiasosopo, and Fielder hit home runs at above league-average rate. Cabrera is, in fact, the only truly outstanding power supply on the team, giving the lie to the idea of Detroit as a team of bashers. Solid in the gap power/doubles department, though – too bad some of them are hard-pressed to leg out a double.
It’s hard to accumulate a lot of net positive or negative WPA over the course of a season. Cabrera’s 6.5 is astounding. In terms of consistent game-changing hitting, added all up, there’s been Cabrera, Fielder, and Peralta, and essentially no one else (lots of Tigers on the plus side, however). Dirks -2.2 is equally astounding. Boesched? Oh yeah.
Who are the best hitters, at bat by at bat? RE24 might not tell the WHOLE story, but it doesn’t lie. Here’s best to worst (for the season, mind you – the numbers pile up and obscure more recent trends we are well aware of):
Cabrera (off the chart)
Iglesias (w/Tigers only)
And if all this doesn’t get you fired up for baseball, I give up, and I’ll just step aside and let Doug Fister and Papa G (POPG) Miguel Cabrera (oh man, is he due or what?) take over.