More on first pitch swinging – runners on base

While I dispelled some of my issues with the Tigers and first pitch swinging, I still had some questions. I think many Tiger fans can remember what seemed like all those times there were runners on base only to see Magglio Ordonez (or any host of other Tiger hitters) take a swing at the first pitch and pop out to first base. So did first pitch swing rates, as well as success, hinge on whether or not there are runners on base?

First we’ll take a look at if the rate of first pitch swinging varies whether or not there are runners on base: Continue reading More on first pitch swinging – runners on base

First pitch swinging

There were a couple ways to describe the Tigers approach at the plate in 2006. The optimist might say they were aggressive, the pessimist might say they were hack-tastic. I guess one measure of this might be their propensity for swinging at the first pitch.

Now with the first pitch, 4 things can happen. There are two take events, a called ball or a called strike. There are also two swinging states, the batter can have put the ball in play or be sitting with an 0-1 count. At various times during the season I saw stats on TV broadcasts or in the paper that show how well certain Tigers did when hitting the first pitch, but that data neglected to take into account the swings and misses (or fouls).
Continue reading First pitch swinging

Even more about lineups

There’s a new Tiger blog, Dtown Baseball. It is authored by DTW commentor Eric Jackson. Eric did some further investigation into Tiger lineup configuration and examined the assertion that the Tigers used 120 different lineups.

Eric raises a great point that there are many distinct lineups, but that there was still considerable consistency.

He looked at the top 5 spots in the lineup and found that the sequence of Granderson-Polanco-Rodriguez-Ordonez-Guillen started 51 times and averaged 4.76 runs per game. He also found a bunch of other stuff and it’s definitely worth a read (plus there’s a graph).
Continue reading Even more about lineups

Detroit Tigers Weblog 2006 Year in Review

It’s that time year where it is time to take a look back at the year that was 2006. Fortunately for the Tigers, and their fans, this isn’t a painful experience this year.
Continue reading Detroit Tigers Weblog 2006 Year in Review

Link round-up

Inge gets a new deal – is he worth it?

The Tigers appear close to a long term contract with Brandon Inge. The deal is believed to be for 4 years and $24 million. This certainly seems like a reasonable deal for the Tigers, even before taking into account the current free agent landscape. The Tigers don’t have anyone in the minors knocking down the door to play third, so he won’t block anybody for awhile.

Inge has posted OPS+’s of 108, 100, and 99 over the last 3 years. So he’s pretty much a league average offensive player at a position that typically is above average offensively, making him a little below average with the bat.

American League third sackers hit 269/338/442 while Inge hit 253/313/463 last year. I’d love more OBP, but he does compensates somewhat with extra power. He’s 29 so I don’t expect much improvement at this point, but given his body type and athleticisism I also think that level of production is sustainable for the length of the contract. While the article says the intention is for Inge to play third throughout the contract, there is also the added bonus that if the Tigers can’t find a replacement for Pudge Rodriguez, Inge is certainly equipped to fill that need as well.

But of course the lightning rod of Brandon Inge discussions always focuses on defense. Detractors will look at the high error total and say he isn’t any good. That he makes some spectacular plays but that doesn’t make up for the easy ones. Proponents of Inge’s defense – like myself – will say that even with the errors he still saves more than enough runs to make up for the minor deficiencies in his offense. And so we’ll do that again here.

Turning to the Probabilistic Model of Range, Inge ranked near the top of all Major League third basemen. (PMR looks at the rate at which fielders turn ball put in play into outs while adjusting for the type of hit, where it was hit, and handedness of batter and pitcher) Inge made 26 more plays than expected. This is includes all those errors on plays he didn’t make. Using a value of .80 runs for each play made means that Inge saved the Tigers 20.8 runs with his glove which is more than enough to make up for the slight deficiency with his bat.

As a little more proof, other advanced defensive metrics agree with Pinto. Inge came out on top in the AL in Chris Dial’s sytem. Dial had Inge saving 20 runs per 150 games played. In the Bill James Handbook John Dewan listed the +/- leaders at each position. (the +/- system involves people watching every single play and giving credit based on whether or not others had made a similar play, a +/- of 0 means you’re average) Inge led all third basemen here as well with a +27.

Whether or not Inge is the best third basemen in the AL can be debated. Whether he is one of the best can not. Inge’s bat didnt’ earn him the contract. But his combined value with the glove and his versatility certainly did.

Short cuts

While I wait for the BCS results, I’ll let others do the heavy lifting and link out:

  • There’s an interesting look at the results by count, and more importantly by what happens after a certain count. The Tigers swung at a ton of first pitches, and Tom Gage even had some stats saying it was a good idea. My issue with Gage’s stats were that they simply showed the result when the ball was put in play. It didn’t take into account the adverse effect of fouling a ball off or swining and missing and putting yourself in a hole. He also didn’t mention sample sizes. By only looking at balls in play, he essentially takes out the possiblity of striking out which isn’t realistic and then there is the issue of not enhancing your OBP via the walk. I didn’t really have the comparisons for what those numbers should look like, but they’re available now. We still don’t know the complete picture on the Tigers at-bats, but it is an interesting comparison nonetheless.
  • Baseball Analysts took a look at the best and worst defenders in the minors from 2006. The good news is that no Tigers showed up on the worst list. Kevin Hooper rated as the 2nd best defensive shortstop last year.
  • Via Knuckle Curve Baseball America has put out a scouting dictionary. So if you want to know what a long swing is, or what it means for a pitcher to throw downhill, this is the place to check.
  • Finally, it looks like there will be a DVD chronicling the Tigers season. It will be available December 7th and exclusive to Meijer stores. The DVD will retail for $18.99. For those interested in a sneak peek, the premiere will be December 6th at the Uptown Palladium in Birmingham. Dan Dickerson, Mario Impemba, and Nate Robertson will be on hand. Tickets are $10. Call 313-471-2052 for tickets and premiere information.

The DIBS Awards

Others have beat me to the post, but the Detroit Independent Baseball Scribes announced their Tiger awards today. The press release is below: Continue reading The DIBS Awards

Moving On

It’s been a couple days now, and I hope the pain isn’t quite as strong. I received emails and calls from friends offering condolences like a loved one had passed away. It got me thinking about the grieving process, and I realized I did the bulk of my grieving after game 4. By game 5 I had come to terms with it, and was progressing through all 5 steps:

  1. Denial: My goodness no. Fernando Rodney didn’t just throw that ball away. How could this happen? It was an easy out. Why is this happening to me!? Curtis couldn’t have fallen on his own. Maybe the game can be played under protest or something
  2. Anger:: Frickin Eckstein. What does grit have to do with hitting routine flyballs that should be outs. This prick is going to win the MVP without actually hitting a ball hard. I hate gritty little players.
  3. Bargaining: Please God, just give this team a chance to get it back to Detroit. They’ve done too good and come to far. I know they’re not hitting but maybe the Cardinals could make an error or slip or something.
  4. Depression: It’s over. There’s no coming back from this. They were so close and will they ever get this chance again? What if someone gets injured next year or Verlander was a fluke? What if Jim Leyland gets lung cancer?Spring training is a long ways away. Now what am I going to do?
  5. Acceptance: They could win game 5 and bring things back to Detroit, but then what? It’s been a great season and the team just chose the brightest spotlight to play its worst. As much as I wanted them to win the World Series, it doesn’t diminish the wonderful experiences from the rest of the season. I can’t wait until next year.

Now there is a hollowness that has come with the end of the baseball season. There was such a rhythm for so long, that I’m actually a little out of sorts without it. Part of me is grateful for the break. Fandom combined with maintaining the site left me without a lot of time for family and sleep. Now I can appreciate both a little more.

As for the site, I’ll be here all off season and there is a ton to talk about. While I probably won’t be posting every single day, you can still expect new stuff 4 to 5 times a week. Even before the hot stove heats up, we’ll talk about:

  • The 40 man roster and who will be back, who will be added, and who will be jettisoned.
  • The merits of Don Slaught as a hitting coach
  • Why Guillen shouldn’t be moved to first base next season

2006 Season: The Aftermath

Once again we’re saying wait til next year, but this time we’re doing it with a banner to hang. The only thing that hurts is that it is so tough to get to the World Series in the first place. The Tigers could field a healthy competitive team next year and still finish 3rd in their division. Nothing is a given and that’s why I tried to savor this experience, even if it was painful at the end.

No matter what happens in the future, nothing will replicate the joy that we as Tiger fans experienced this year. This team came out of nowhere, and that is part of what made this run so special.

I’m not going to use this space to rehash game 5. The bulk of it was covered in the game thread and live blog. At this point I just want to say thank you. I want to say thank you to all of you who made this site a part of your summer. It was an awesome ride.

But mostly I want to say thank you to the Tigers. Thanks for adding drama to those August nights where there would have been none. Thanks for taking a city on your back and carrying us through to the end of October. Thanks for bringing back the Olde English D.

I know that expectations change as things go along, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be writing about the Tigers in the World Series. They are American League Champions and posted 95 wins. I’m so damn proud of these guys. My only regret is that the bulk of the nation saw them at their worst.

Thanks to the pitching staff who chucked shut out after shut out and gave the Tigers a chance every night. Thanks to Jeremy Bonderman who really did turn the corner. Thanks to Kenny Rogers who not only was a veteran presence, but a dominant one at that. Thanks to Justin Verlander turning in the most prolific rookie season in Detroit in I don’t know how long. Thanks to Nate Robertson and gum time and taking the ball and giving the team 6 innings or more every single start. Thanks to Zach Miner and Wil Ledezma who stepped in and didn’t miss a beat. Thanks to Mike Maroth for everything and I’m sorry you weren’t able to be a part of it on the field.

Thanks to the bullpen which was amongst the best. Thanks to Todd Jones for the cardiac work that was largely successful this season. Thanks to Fernando Rodney and the change up of doom. Thanks to Joel Zumaya who turns a stadium electric by simply coming into the game. Thanks to Jamie Walker, the most unsung of the group, but who always did his job. Thanks to Jason Grilli who was as solid a long guy as you’ll see.

Thanks to Ivan Rodriguez for continuing to shut down the running game with a gold glove season and a .300 batting average. Thanks to Sean Casey for coming over and giving this team the bulk of its offense in the World Series. Thanks to Chris Shelton who sparked this incredible season with an incredible April. Here’s hoping you’re back for more. Thanks to Placido Polanco who was always sure handed defensively and was the one guy who could put the ball in play at will. Thanks to Carlos Guillen for another MVP caliber season. Thanks to Brandon Inge and the plethora of web gems at the hot corner.

Thanks to Magglio Ordonez for the most dramatic homer Detroit has seen since Kirk Gibson in 1987. Thanks to Curtis Granderson for a season of nearly flawless defense and timely hits and showing way more poise and maturity than a virtual rookie should. Thanks to Craig Monroe for the late inning heroics throughout the season. Thanks to Marcus Thames who finally got a shot and made the most of each at-bat.

Thanks to Vance Wilson for being a very capable back-up to a Hall of Famer. Thanks to Omar Infante and Ramon Santiago – you’ve come a long way since 2003.

And thanks to Jim Leyland. You made me crazy a couple times with your decisions, but you got a team and a city believing that the Tigers can and should win.

Thank you for the countless memories this season.

Congratulations Cardinals

My sincerest congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals and their fans. The Cardinals went out and outplayed the Tigers. St. Louis is a great, historic organization with a tremendous fan base. Enjoy the next year as defending World Champions. You earned it.

World Series Game 5: Tigers at Cardinals

PREGAME: So here it is, win or go home or whatever other cliches you choose to use. I’m in a much better state of mind thanks to the counseling session that took place in the Game 4 Aftermath comments.

This preview is pretty thin. First, I’ve covered the Tigers starter Justin Verlander as well as Cards starter Jeff Weaver. Second, everyone understands the consequences. Third, I’m pressed for time at the moment. I do plan on giving the live-blog thing a shot tonight (just check in this spot). I’ve never done it for fear of jinxing the team. But really, I think we’re beyond that now.

The good news is it looks like the rain has stopped.

Detroit Lineup

CF – Granderson
LF – Monroe
SS – Guillen
RF – Ordonez
1B – Casey
C – Rodriguez
2B – Polanco
3B – Inge
P – Verlander

Cardinals Lineup

SS – Eckstein
RF – Duncan
1B – Pujols
CF – Edmonds
3B – Rolen
2B – Belliard
C – Molina
LF – Taguchi
P – Weaver

So pick your Tiger, and let’s enjoy this one tonight…whatever happens.

The Liveblog

Continue reading World Series Game 5: Tigers at Cardinals