Tonight’s loss was a nice mix of all of the ingredients which drive us nuts about this team, served together as a big fat loss sundae. Poor pitching from a supposed ace, terrible base running, mediocre fielding, letting a bad team come from behind twice, and the icing on top – an awful bullpen performance.
So obviously, lots to gripe about.
But let’s get a few facts straight regarding the offense so we can make sure that our frustration is accurately placed.
1) Relative to the rest of the league, the Tigers are a tremendous hitting team. The Tigers’ team OPS of .761 trails only Colorado, and Colorado is boosted by an .894 home OPS (you read that right). The next closest AL team is the Blue Jays, with a team OPS of .739. The Tigers have the third best road OPS in the majors at .742. Yes, OPS is down across the league, but relative to the league, the Tigers are one of the best hitting teams. Just to emphasize this point, the Tigers are second in the majors in runs scored, behind only LAA.
2) The Tigers do not give up on games. The club’s 41 come from behind victories is 2nd in the majors, and the team OPS is .742 when behind, 3rd in the majors.
3) R3L20 – the Tigers are middle of the pack, 11th in the majors, but the team OPS in that situation is .872. Scoring position – .777 OPS, good for 3rd in the majors. No one gets it done every time.
4) In extra innings the team OPS is .827, good for 7th in the majors.
Look, you can play around with the figures yourself. Objectively, it’s hard to complain about this offense. (We’re even middle of the pack in number of pitches taken.) Yes, we’re 2nd in the majors in GIDP, but that’s what happens when you’re on base so much. The reason why this team is mired in a division struggle despite an overwhelming abundance of talent does not rest with the offense.
The starting pitching is bad, and the bullpen is atrocious. The starters’ team ERA is middle of the pack in the AL, but when you consider the names (and salaries) in that rotation, middle of the pack is crippling. And then, for the least surprising stats I’ll post tonight, the bullpen is 3rd from the bottom in the AL in ERA, and dead last in the AL in BAA against and WHIP. I get that bullpens are fleeting and whimsical, and can be trusted as much as a con man, but I do believe that Ausmus has failed to effectively motivate and manage this pen, and this will be impossible to overcome in the coming weeks. Ausmus is somewhat limited by the arms on the roster, but other teams seem to make it work with random AAA call-up guy/free agent. That Jim Johnson is still pitching meaningful innings in the heat of a pennant race is nauseating.
Thus, with an off-day tomorrow, and the anticipation of the biggest series of the season looming over our keyboards tomorrow, I wanted to set the stage for some meaningful discussion. Feel free to challenge me on the offense thoughts above, but I think we’re wasting our time complaining about these hitters.
By the way, if Cabrera goes 4-5 in each of the remaining 10 games, he’ll probably win his 4th straight batting crown.