Game 2014.158: White Sox at Tigers

Now that was some Septober baseball.

It didn’t begin that way: for the 2nd consecutive night the Tiger bats were having trouble, and Detroit went into the 5th with 18 consecutive scoreless innings behind them. One single by Rajai Davis changed that. After moving to 2nd on a ground out, he stole third and then scored on the throw, and just like that Rajai had run the Tigers onto the scoreboard, finally. They added two more on a clutch double by Mr. Septober himself, Torii Hunter.

Meanwhile the White Sox could do nothing with David “Dr. Jekyll” Price, who didn’t disappoint in his on-again off-again pitching trend, baffling the Sox with only 3 hits and no walks against 8 strikeouts over 8 innings. He ran out of gas in the 9th, but how many of us were begging Ausmus to bring him back out to finish the game and leave Nathan in the pen? I thought so. He couldn’t close the deal, and in comes Joe to face Gillaspie with the go-ahead run on 3rd. When he began by walking Gillaspie I’m sure there were many “oh no here we go’s” muttered, but it turns out that Nathan pitched around him intentionally, remembering what Gillaspie did to the Royals a week earlier. Nathan got the last out, and set the stage for a playoff-atmosphere, game-winning hit by Miguel Cabrera.

They really needed that one last night: today the Tigers get a day game against a legitimate Cy Young candidate, Chris Sale. The Condor is having his best season of an already impressive career, with a minuscule 2.20 ERA. If there is any room for optimism, it’s that Sale was roughed up a bit in his last start against the Royals, giving up 9 hits and 5 runs in only 5 innings. In addition, Justin Verlander is coming off perhaps his best start of the season. Perhaps Verlander can dig out his old Cy Young cap and we can have on old fashion battle of the Cys out there.


Classy move by the Tiger organization honoring Paul Konerko , who is winding down an 18-year career, before last night’s game. No, Derek Jeter isn’t the only guy ever to retire.


Stats That Make You Go Hmm:

Victor Martinez is the team MVP, right? Not according to these WAR ratings. Here are the most valuable Tigers based on WAR:

5.4  Max Scherzer

5.1  Miguel Cabrera

5.0  Ian Kinsler

4.2  Victor Martinez

3.6  JD Martinez

But wait, unlike say, OPS, WAR is calculated different ways by different people. Those were the Fangraphs numbers. Here are the Baseball Reference WAR ratings:

5.9  Max Scherzer

5.1  Victor Martinez

5.0  Ian Kinsler

4.8  Miguel Cabrera

4.5  Rick Porcello

Hmm, that one fits in more with my impressions as a fan. At any rate it’s worth noting how high Ian Kinsler ranks on both lists, he of the reckless baserunning and ill-timed pop ups.

Today’s Come Sale-Away Lineup:

  1. Kinsler 2B
  2. Hunter RF
  3. Cabrera 1B
  4. V Martinez DH
  5. JD Martinez LF
  6. Castellanos 3B
  7. Holaday C
  8. Romine SS
  9. Davis CF


91 thoughts on “Game 2014.158: White Sox at Tigers”

  1. good stuff Coleman – and I agree class move by DET honoring Konerko… also agree with the ‘enough already w/the Jeter farewell tour’

    I don’t have a good feel for today’s Sale matchup, and I also have a bad feeling that DET might be heading for a ‘game 163’ w/KC; which would mean a 1-game playoff to see which team has to go to a 1-game playoff (WC game)…which if you see the MLB schedule is going to be a problem for the league and whatever team loses game 163 (since winner is ALC champ and loser is 2nd WC…travel to OAK – and face Lester)

  2. I expected Sale to take the mound in the 7th with a tin-foil hat… in light of the fact that he thinks there’s some sort of VMart sign-stealing conspiracy… or whatever the hell is rattling around his (Sale’s) head

    what’s up w/all that?!

  3. Twinkie 3B Plouffe just fractured his forearm laying down a tag in their game

    …and DET bats waking up – let’s hope the hits keep coming

    1. …insurance runs are always a good idea w/DET’s bullpen; JV now at 109 pitches through 8. i doubt Ausmus will let JV ride as long as he did Price yesterday… I suspect JV will start the 9th and go until he allows a runner

      1. …on 2nd thought, he’ll pull him – seeing as JV would be pitching in either a WC game or Division series game 1

  4. HUGE bunts by Holaday and Romine (of the suicide nature) and the infield single by Davis

    …the bottom of the order just may have built a Sloppy Joe proof lead

    1. Nice to see the small ball in action again. This should have been part of the program for the whole season as we all expected, but for some reason was put on the back shelf as a regular too sometime in May. Hopefully this isn’t just a one-off.

    1. Credit for this blowpen bombardment has to go in part to the Tiger hitters who worked Sale’s pitch count up in the first few innings, which led to him being finished after 6.

      1. great point! it also helped Sale take his self out of the game (mentally) w/his delusions of the Vmart conspiracy

  5. Hey, here’s an idea! Maybe Ausmus isn’t a complete idiot and he’s bringing back Soria slowly from his injuries so he’ll be ready to go at full strength for high leverage moments in October.

  6. I hope so, Stephen, and I’d trust Ausmus if he had shown any bullpen management aptitude. As it is, I’ll believe it (Soria in a high-leverage scenario) when I see it.

  7. I am always amazed how a win at this time of the season weighs so heavily on the standings compared to any other game at any other time of the season. That is just 1 of the many wonderful things I love about this game. Sooo, magic number is 4, my 11 year old grandson’s favorite number. I always bet it for him at the track, and it comes in more often that not. I would prefer a magic number of 0, but you can’t bet that one.

        1. We’ll see how the first Twins game goes. I’ve still got 10067 minutes to erase that potentially cursed reference.

  8. The big boys are stepping other than Miggy and Victor….good to see today….
    91 wins
    90 ties
    89 hope for playoff
    88 see ya next year

  9. Back t the top Ive been on the road back to Cal have to jump in late

    You know what you can do with your WAR rating if Martinez isn’t in your top 5….thats the problem with geeks…they come up with this stuff and only geeks understand it. They will even explain away Victor who could be AL ..MVP and the 6 th place Tiger MVP

    1. So the problem with geeks is that they try to look at the total value of a player instead of just focusing on one or two offensive stats that don’t give you a full picture of the season a player is having? I was in your place before, jud, but eventually you’re going to have to start looking at more than just AVG, HR, and RBI if you want to understand what makes baseball players valuable.

      No one’s denying that Victor’s having a career year at the plate—it’s just that looking at the complete picture shows there’s more to a good season than just mashing home runs and hitting for average.

      1. I’m with KW here. MVP has at times been given to a player most valuable to his team including intangible factors (see Kirk Gibson in ’88). They writers have largely moved away from that these days, but WAR (or a combination of bWAR and fWAR is, I believe, the most acceptable single-stat means of player evaluation).

        But it’s certainly not unanimous, and no writer other than Tigers’ beat writers will ever understand what VMart means to the Tigers as well as we do. This discourse is a great example of one of the many reasons why we all adore this game.

        1. I have my own WAR formula, and Victor Martinez actually has the highest WAR on the Tigers. Don’t ask for the formula though; it’s proprietary, although I’ve revealed it to Mike Illitch in my GM application.

        2. I hope I wasn’t too harsh with jud. I used to reject advanced stats too because they seemed too complicated, but once you really take a look at them, they make a lot of sense. They’re really a case of “don’t knock it til you try it.” I think the key is to start slowly so you don’t get overwhelmed.

          Victor is an offensive stud, and we have the stats to back that up. Unfortunately, he’s not a defensive stud, and we have the stats to back that up too. If he had the defensive ability of Kinsler he’d be a legitimate MVP candidate…but he doesn’t.

      2. I think it should have to do with what your job is on the team..Romine should have different MVP criteria than Hunter. Victors job is simple drive in runs. I DON’T CARE if he has 125 hits or many runs did he produce. Romines main job is how many runs did he prevent. Now decide from that criteria who is more Valuable…Miggy and Trout cannot be judged by the same criteria as each other. They have different jobs on their team. I believe they should be judged by how well they do that job they are expected to do for their team

        1. MVP remains an award voted on according to opinion and sentiment. What the ballot says:

          “Dear Voter:

          There is no clear-cut definition of what Most Valuable means. It is up to the individual voter to decide who was the Most Valuable Player in each league to his team. The MVP need not come from a division winner or other playoff qualifier.

          The rules of the voting remain the same as they were written on the first ballot in 1931:

          1. Actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense.

          2. Number of games played.

          3. General character, disposition, loyalty and effort.

          4. Former winners are eligible.

          5. Members of the committee may vote for more than one member of a team.

          You are also urged to give serious consideration to all your selections, from 1 to 10. A 10th-place vote can influence the outcome of an election. You must fill in all 10 places on your ballot. Only regular-season performances are to be taken into consideration.

          Keep in mind that all players are eligible for MVP, including pitchers and designated hitters.”

          “Most Valuable Player” is an unfortunate designation. I wonder who came up with it. You couldn’t settle the question even if there was a strict formula… because the formula itself would become the topic of debate.

          Who was the highest-paid player in baseball in 2014? There’s your MVP. That’s my answer.

          More interesting to ponder and debate “who’s the best ____,” in my view. Victor Martinez is clearly the best DH in baseball, an important position for AL teams. Best hitter on the Tigers, also clearly. Able to change games with his sheer menace, too, as we’ve just seen. So he’s already won. But it’s a team game, and the only award that matters is the World Series championship. If the Tigers do it, they are all the co-MVP’s of MLB.

          1. I’m loving this discussion.

            I like Jud’s angle b/c it’s perfect fodder for a board like this. But then I like WAR b/c when I’m at the bar with my buddies who don’t follow the Tigers as closely as I do, WAR is a great starting point when measuring worth of other ballplayers.

            1. I like advanced stats very much. Wish they had been more in the mainstream 40 years ago. I’m not fond of WAR, because I am not sold on the validity of “R.”

              I seriously believe that the only truly fair way to determine MVP would be to ignore stats altogether, including in-game stats, and *just watch the games.*

              Ian Kinsler would get a first-place vote from me as Tigers MVP. Not because he’s my favorite. It’s an objective choice. Observation minus stats (to the extent I can put them out of my mind, anyway.)

  10. Hello Friends. Boy am I in Tiger Stadium right now.

    Drink by my side, Tigers win in the bag, MLB network on the tube, and following the Royals/Indians game online. As a kicker, Hall of Famer Eric Nadel of the Rangers is singing to me in the midst of a really fun time for Ranger baseball.


  11. That was SOME game. It looked like it was going to be slow and agonizing death at the hands of Sale. But Verlander outpitched and outlasted him. I was just floored to see the Tigers pull ahead and then add on the way they did. Blown away by the squeeze play! ROMINE, MARTINEZ! Perfection.

    I looked away from the game for a moment (sound off). Next thing I knew, benches were cleared. Still not sure what happened there (sound remained off, and I haven’t read anything yet), but my take – probably wrong – was that it was Sale as Balfour, exception taken to Victor’s demeanor or behavior or a look, or something, only after a HBP this time. Whatever it was, Sale wasn’t the same after. Beautiful.

    1. Sale saw someone in the bullpen (or in CF seats) with binoculars, and decided someone was watching the signs and tipping Victor. That is why after he drilled him he started gesturing to CF. If you read his lips he says something like “that’s for your boy out there.”

      1. My favorite part of the game might have been when Kinsler doubled in a run in the 7th, and made Binocular Face at the Chicago dugout.

          1. I liked the Binocular Face (I thought it was directed at the Tigers dugout), but the connection I drew (no audio clues) was with Sale making the face in the White Sox dugout, which I interpreted as Sale complaining about Victor having stared/glowered at him. Regardless, it must have been mighty uncomfortable for Sale pitching with Victor at 1B. Victor was burning a hole all the way into my display, for goodness sake. I’m surprised Sale’s head didn’t just burst into flame.

            1. When the benches emptied and just stood around, Cabrera walked up to about 2 feet away from Sale and just stared at him. It filled me with a vague terror, and I was just watching on TV. I don’t think the Tigers are the team you want to get in a staredown with (also Max looked like he was about to start biting the Chicago pitching coach’s leg). I definitely don’t think it’s fair to say that there’s no fire on this team.

          1. Awesomeness. And also probably the first link I’ve ever clicked a link with the phrase “Dental Ideal” in it.

              1. “But not the first link you’ve ever clicked with the phrase “Bighorn sheep”?”

                Someone else to hire, Kevin.

      2. Aha. As if guys could hit Sale even if he told them what was coming. That’s just plain weird. Although maybe there’s some theoretical basis for thinking that VMart has a guy with binos (maybe his actual boy, his son) out in the stands every outing against Sale, considering that Victor is about .550 career with power against him. Too bad Victor’s “boy” wouldn’t share with Miguel.

        Miggy Creamcheese, what’s got into ya? The sombrero and a sac fly!

      3. Just read that Avisail Garcia told Martinez after the game that that was why Sale drilled him, he thought he was stealing signs. And Ausmus’s post-game comments got a plus from me. He slammed Sale, but said there was no way anybody was going to charge that mound or retaliate (you know Verlander must have been itching to), because they are focused on the real goal, winning the division and the playoffs. And then Verlander, just now, after Detroit clinched a postseason game: “I don’t think you’re going to see us go out and celebrate and get hammered and come in tomorrow not ready to play.”

  12. Fangraphs had an article last week on why Victor’s WAR is so low in their system. Most of it had to do with baserunning – Victor almost never goes 1st to 3rd on a single or scores on a double, so his OPS overestimates his offensive value.

    1. Thanks Jason, that is interesting. I would have assumed he was being dinged for being a DH and adding no fielding value. I’ve never actually studied the different WAR formulae; there would seem to be room for a lot of interesting debate on the topic (how valuable really is baserunning? More valuable to Fangraphs than to Baseball Reference, obviously).

      1. I think the big objection is that DH is hitter position, but not a player position (MVP vs. MVH?). The argument being that a DH, since he is not in the field, only plays half the game. I think there is some merit there. How much does the wear and tear of playing in the field for a full season affect hitting production? It really isn’t answerable I don’t think, but just the fact that there is a question works against a guy like VMart at vote time.

            1. Yeah, the Gold Glove has been pretty thoroughly discredited. Except that it crops up all the time in assessing a player’s career, just like “x-time All Star.” I try to put the awards/selections stuff out of my head, except for gloating when Detroit Tigers (always justifiably) win them (fair and square).

            2. If the Gold Glove Award had any legitimacy, Neifi Perez would have won one. After all he played 2B just like Jeter played SS.

              1. Well, I wouldn’t go so far as to say no legitimacy for the Gold Glove. It’s sponsored by a manufacturer of gloves, after all. They must know.

                I think all the awards should be standardized to gold. Gold Glove, Gold Mitt, Gold Arm, Gold Bat, Golden Legs, Golden Eyes. All with their various sponsors. Also, it would settle this MVP debate once and for all. The guy with the most gold is obviously the most valuable.

                There’s a lady who’s sure…

              2. And I guess Mike Trout could add Gold Sombero to his collection, in terms of sheer number, anyway.

                Our own Alex is #9 in the AL, and second in rate only to Tyler Flowers. So I guess you could say he’s second-rate even at #9.

              3. Mike Trout is a great player, and deserves the accolades. The superhigh WAR? who knows. But one thing I know: “left game after 4th inning with upset stomach” is something you will never read about Miguel Cabrera in a box score. Just saying.

              4. If he would have read the bottle, he would have known it was one of the listed possible side effects of Superhigh WAR. That’s why Miggy doesn’t take it.

        1. That’s only because the CG known as DP started throwing BP. Total BS.

          “Eight and Two-Thirds.” Title of a tragic poem. Or the story of our lives.

          1. Sung to the tune of “99 And One Half Just Won’t Do”. Although “Eight And Two Thirds Just Won’t Do” doesn’t have quite the same impact for some reason.

            1. Not familiar with that one, but I can definitely hear “Eight And Two Thirds Just Won’t Do” as a good imaginary song line and title. Baseball resonance. Now that you mention it. If I had been consulted, I would have proposed “Ninety-Nine Point Nine Just Won’t Do” for the other one.

              1. Think 99 And A Half Luftballoons instead. Have fun with it. Or drive it away with “Safety Dance” or “Everybody Wang Chung Tonight,”

  13. I think my question from a couple of weeks ago regarding WAR is still unanswered. How is it that only a couple of teams have negative WAR from their players at second base? Is the “average” replacement player 1 WAR instead of 0 WAR?

    Also, since the average team goes 81-81, shouldn’t a team’s total WAR for all players be equal to how the teams finish relative to 81-81? For example, if the Tigers go 91-71, winning 10 games above average, should the combined total WAR for all players be 10? It seems it should to me! If it doesn’t, then WAR stats would be very suspect in my mind.

    1. Thank you, I have always thought that WAR, by definition, should be a zero sum thing: in other words, an entire league filled with teams full of average, replacement level players, should all go 81-81 with a team WAR of 0, ideally. There is room for creativity here though. For instance there is the thing with the Pythagorean number of games a team should have won, vs how many they did win, and if the team WAR matches that instead of the actual number of wins, well then what you have is a negative WAR for the manager, right?

      At any rate, I still think the major issue is that “WAR” means nothing, without knowing whose WAR it is, a problem you don’t get with any other statistics. It is just a concept, calculated differently by different people.

  14. Coleman, some notes on WAR (warning, I’m an advanced stats guy):

    “League average” and “replacement level” are very different. A “replacement player” is a guy you could get off the street or from Triple-A. His value will be well below the league average. To put it concretely, imagine a team that played Carrera in CF and Don Kelly at 3B every day, and so on for the other seven positions.

    When we say someone has 8 WAR (about what Mike Trout has this year), it means that the Angels would have eight fewer wins if they played Carrera, instead of Trout, in CF every day.

    I once ran a formula that concluded that a team with ONLY “replacement players” (and “replacement pitchers”) would have an expected record of 47-115.

    So being an average MLB player/pitcher has significant value – about $10 million/season these days, though age and injury history come into play for each individual case.

    And for a team to get negative WAR, you’d have to be as bad as the ’03 Tigers – really historically bad.

    Hope this helps!

    1. It does. Although measuring players against average would be easier, and also more appealing to me. How is “replacement level” performance even determined? And why does it make sense to measure players against the standard of a 47-115 team (or whatever) performance?

      And I had to check: the 2003 team did actually manage a positive WAR, barely (4.3). Dmitri Young led the way with his 3.4. (Baseball Reference)

      At any rate, my major complaint was with different WARs from different sources, people should at least indicate the source of their WAR numbers when making comparisons.

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