Game 2016.34: Tigers at Orioles

Another game, another loss, this one just happened to nearly set an MLB record for futility.

Ausmus made two huge managerial blunders yesterday – not getting Salty in to the game via a double switch after his PH appearance, and not sending a red hot Castellanos up to bat. This seriously may be the best two month stretch of Castellanos’ career. And he can’t get a PH at bat under last night’s circumstances. Think about that.

Firing Ausmus doesn’t put us in the playoffs, but it may at least but the game back in the hands of the players.

I wanted to talk about Cabrera for a sec. Last week I heard Jim lamenting about how the ball doesn’t look to be coming off of Cabrera’s bat with the same velocity that we’re used to. He implied that Cabrera maybe had lost some power. We’ve seen this in the past when he’s had his core issues, but the understanding was that he was fully healthy this year. So what do the numbers tell us?

The first number to look at is is ISO. Isolated power is SLG – AVG, or basically extra bases per at-bat. Cabrera’s career ISO is .239, this year it’s .152, a marked decrease. In fact, last year’s .196 was the only season of his career below .200. His line drive rate this year is 25.3%, which is slightly above his career average of 22.1%, but based on Fangraphs’ soft speed/medium speed/hard speed metrics of his balls in play (provided by Baseball Info Solutions), he’s below his career average for hard, and above for soft and medium. This is a concern. Further, he’s going opposite field 35.4% of the time, vs. a career average of 28.3%. He’s only pulling the ball 34.3% of the time, which is a slight decrease from last year’s 35.8%, and well below his career 39.4% average.

It’s definitely expected that he’ll lose some power over time, and a more experienced hitter goes the other way more often, but the actual numbers are concerning. I’ll also point out that his 11.1% swinging strike rate is his highest since 2008, and well above last year’s 9.6% (something we would not expect from a more experienced hitter).

In a nutshell, less XBH, softer hit balls, and more swinging strikes. Not good indicators. He’s definitely earned the right to a larger sample size, but either he’s declining rapidly, or still injured.

Moya up (Hardy down), Upton still in the lineup – in CF. Baseball-Reference game preview here.

Daniel Norris is up as well, though he hasn’t pitched well in the minors.

1. Ian Kinsler, 2B

2. J.D. Martinez, RF

3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B

4. Victor Martinez, DH

5. Nick Castellanos, 3B

6. Justin Upton, CF

7. Steven Moya, LF

8. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C

9. Jose Iglesias, SS


  1. Coleman

    May 12, 2016 at 4:15 pm

    Good info and write up Kevin. And hilarious photo.

  2. Tony de Florida

    May 12, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    Kevin has given statistical backing to what I believe many of us thought. Miggy is not the same. I guess my preference is that he is hurting since that would be correctable.

  3. StorminNorman$

    May 12, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    Good info on Cabrera, Kevin. As I’ve stated before in the handful of games I’ve watched this year, a couple of things jumped out at me that I haven’t witnessed with any kind of regularity in prior seasons…OK maybe a little last year: 1) he’s having more trouble catching up with fastballs, and 2) he’s swinging at a higher number of pitches out of the strike zone…which is odd for him, because he has and still does get the tighter ‘superstar’ strike zone from many umps.

    As Kevin suggested, could still be core muscle issues and/or I suspect his eyesight may have diminished, and thus he’s not picking up the pitch rotation as quickly as he’s done in the past – which could also explain how/why he’s “getting fooled” at a higher rate this year.

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  6. Kevin in Dallas

    May 12, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    I’ll add that his contact rate is down (77% vs. 79.2% career), but he’s actually swinging at less pitches outside of the strike zone (27.6% to 29.7%). Which is consistent with what we would expect from a more mature hitter. All signs point to diminished power and swing speed.

  7. Coleman

    May 12, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    Kershaw almost ended up a Tiger. And thanks for reminding me the Tigers drafted Andrew Miller over Clayton Kershaw.

    Of course the previous article beats this one if you just go on headlines alone: “Can Kershaw keep Colon in park?”

  8. Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

    May 12, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    A bud just texted me about an Mlive article that say Pelfrey hasn’t won a game in 25 starts and no road wins in over a year. For $8M?

  9. Mark

    May 12, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    Can we switch JD Martinez and Cabrera in the line up or am I crazy? Cabrera might not be hitting with power anymore but he will surely be over .300 soon.

    • Tony de Florida

      May 12, 2016 at 7:25 pm

      You are not crazy, that does make some sense. Since Norman thinks all I have to do is request something, I ask that we try that soon.

  10. Tony de Florida

    May 12, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    Two nights in a row, anybody but Victor on first we have a run. Maybe Moya can bail us out.

  11. StorminNorman$

    May 12, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    Salty 73=AB 7=HR 18=RBI
    Cabrera 126=AB 4=HR 15=RBI

    …not Cabrera-like

    • Tony de Florida

      May 12, 2016 at 8:33 pm

      I love what Salty has done. He has certainly exceeded expectations. But as I said last month: If he is leading our team in home runs, we’re in big trouble.

  12. StorminNorman$

    May 12, 2016 at 8:41 pm

    DET 8 hits + 3BBs through 4, leaving 2 men on in all 4 innings…should have, and will probably need, more than 3 runs

    • Tony de Florida

      May 12, 2016 at 8:49 pm

      You’re right, with another chance to strand 2 more right now. I’d like for Pelfrey to have enough of a cushion so Brad can’t mismanage him out of the win.

  13. Kevin in Dallas

    May 12, 2016 at 8:51 pm

    Point about last night that Dan brought up – Salty had been burned, so if Casty hits for McCann and we go to Xtra innings, Romine is batting.

    1) This amplifies the mistake that Ausmus made earlier not doing a double switch.

    2) I may agree with that reasoning if McCann is up with a guy on third and no one, or one out; but managing to not lose for a very low probability situation is silly. Ausmus needs to put his team in a position to win every at bat, and every inning. We don’t have the luxury of planning a few innings ahead.

    • Tony de Florida

      May 12, 2016 at 8:57 pm

      It’s extremely difficult to get to extra innings if you do not tie the game.

  14. StorminNorman$

    May 12, 2016 at 9:45 pm

    Pelfrey finally pitches a decent game, and the blowpen shows up

    • StorminNorman$

      May 12, 2016 at 9:48 pm

      …at the pace Ausmus is going through pitchers (5 pitchers to record the last 5 outs) the past two innings, they’re on pace to run out of pitchers in the 8th

  15. tbran

    May 12, 2016 at 9:45 pm

    Good thing we improved our bull pen or things would look like last year and the year before that and …

  16. Tony de Florida

    May 12, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    Another waste pitch hit. Pen brings gas to the fire, poor Pelfrey.

  17. Kevin in Dallas

    May 12, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    Well, this one definitely isn’t on Ausmus (so far).

  18. StorminNorman$

    May 12, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    going into tonight DET pitching was 3rd from last in team ERA in the AL, and 2nd from last in BAA .277, w/ last place MIN at ..278 BAA

    tonight’s 6th & 7th inning meltdown will not improve those stats

    • tbran

      May 12, 2016 at 10:00 pm

      Let me try to sum it up succinctly: We suck.

  19. tbran

    May 12, 2016 at 10:39 pm

    Just noticed that Ausmus pinched Aviles for Moya (2 for 4) in the 9th. That proves it: Ausmus wants the Tigers to fire Ausmus.

    • Mark

      May 12, 2016 at 10:51 pm

      He probably did that to make it look like he was paying attention to lefty vs. righty match ups. But did anybody really think Aviles was gonna get a hit there?

  20. StorminNorman$

    May 13, 2016 at 8:05 am

    “It’s a performance-based game,” manager Brad Ausmus said

  21. StorminNorman$

    May 13, 2016 at 8:58 am

    i’m usually not too impressed w/this NY Post sportswriter’s columns, but “part I & II” makes some valid points about I = attendance and MLB greed; and II = the “save” stat.

  22. StorminNorman$

    May 13, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    Norris sent back to AAA, and Saupold brought up… i guess Norris did have a scoreless inning in relief last night, and according to the recently passed team policy, scoreless innings in relief are just not going to be tolerated by mngmt 😉

    seriously though, Norris does need to get SP appearances rather the bullpen work

  23. StorminNorman$

    May 13, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    tonight’s game pits JV vs a very good Tillman

    1. 2B Ian Kinsler
    2. RF J.D. Martinez
    3. 1B Miguel Cabrera
    4. DH Victor Martinez
    5. 3B Nick Castellanos
    6. CF Justin Upton
    7. LF Steven Moya
    8. C James McCann
    9. SS Jose Iglesias