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Written by Matt Snyder | 05 May 2012

AlexAvilaWide

I don’t know how long Jim Leyland is going to be able to keep Brennan Boesch in the number two spot in the batting order if he continues to struggle so much. But the question is, if Boesch was to be yanked, who would fill his place?

I’ve seen a good bit of internet chatter clamoring for Andy Dirks to get a shot, but while his .282 batting average looks good, he doesn’t draw many walks and only has a .300 on-base percentage to go with it. And when you boil it down OBP is the name of the game for your top-of-the-order hitters. They’re getting the most plate appearances every game, and it’s their job to ‘set the table’ for the big power guys in the three and four slots. Other than that, though, I haven’t heard many suggestions.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 05 May 2012

Here's the replay of Jhonny Peralta's game winning home run for the Tigers from Friday night. I love listening to the walk-off home run calls (especially from radio man Dan Dickerson).



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Written by Matt Snyder | 04 May 2012

BruceRondonYou don’t often find interesting relief pitching prospects in the mid-to-low levels of the minor leagues, but flame throwing right-hander Bruce Rondon has gained the attention of prospect rankers. He was named one of the Tigers’ top ten prospects by Baseball Prospectus (#7) and MLB.com (#6), and a top twenty prospect by FanGraphs (#14), Motor City Bengals (#15), and TigsTown (#19).

If you glance at his career strikeout numbers, it’s impossible not to see the potential. Since coming to the United States from Venezuela to play baseball, Rondon has struck out 127 batters in 93.2 innings of work. That’s an incredible rate of over 12 per nine innings.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 03 May 2012

JimLeylandLineupCardThe 2011 Tigers finished with a 95-67 regular season record, an AL Central Division championship, and an appearance in the ALCS. Even with the loss of designated hitter Victor Martinez, the team was supposed to be even better with a full year from Doug Fister and the addition of Prince Fielder.

But we’re now through the first month and change, and still the Tigers find themselves with a .500 record and in a tie for second place in the division. What’s wrong with the team? Why is such a loaded roster struggling to meet expectations?

There’s chatter around the internet and on talk radio about Jim Leyland needing to be fired, Ryan Raburn’s sub-.200 batting average, and the lack of Victor Martinez’s clubhouse presence. It’s true that this team has had some issues, most notably with hitting and relief pitching, but is it really time to blow everything up? Isn’t our panic premature?

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Written by Matt Snyder | 03 May 2012

GeraldLairdWith the Tigers down by a run in the 9th inning of Wednesday afternoon's game, Alex Avila reached base on a single with one out. Detroit needed to scratch out at least one run to keep the game alive, and Avila isn't known as a burner, so Jim Leyland went to his bench to inject some more speed into the game. So out of the dugout popped fellow catcher Gerald Laird to run for him.

Huh? Laird?

On the face it seems like an odd substitiution. Because (1) can Laird really be a better running option than Avila, and (2) even if that was the case, wouldn't there still have been a better option? The answers to those questions are (1) yes and (2) no.

It's true that Laird isn't known as a speed demon himself (a caller on ESPN 96.1 in Grand Rapids Wednesday dropped the never clever "Gerald LARD" nickname), his career speed score of 4.2 rates right between 'below average' and 'average', but Avila has been even worse with a 'poor' 3.3 speed rating.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 02 May 2012

via FanGraphs.comSee that picture on the right? That’s a screen cap of Todd Helton catching a throw from a teammate while two to three feet off the bag. The runner, Jerry Hairston, was apparently called out by umpire Tim Welke (image via FanGraphs.com).

Of course, Tigers fans aren’t strangers to blown calls. The memory of Jim Joyce’s blown call on what would have been the 27th and final out of Armando Galarraga’s 2010 perfect game won’t be easily wiped from the mind of any Detroiter*.

*A Google image search for ‘Armando Galarraga’ yields a handful of file photos and dozens upon dozens of pictures (from all angles) of Miguel Cabrera’s throw beating Cleveland’s Jason Donald by a full step.

In fairness to umpires, many safe/out plays that fans grumble about are so close that it would be impossible to get them all correct at game speed with the naked eye. But that doesn’t mean that baseball shouldn’t do something to correct these calls; both the grossly incorrect and the bang-bang varieties.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 02 May 2012

JimAndPatrickLeylandThe numbers aren’t particularly flashy for Patrick Leyland: one home run, one double, and eleven singles in 46 at-bats, but the .283 batting average that the above line produces is good for third on this year’s West Michigan Whitecaps team.

I don’t believe that batting average tells us anything useful about a player’s value at the plate, but it does, perhaps, give us an indication (in conjunction with his walk and strikeout rates) of the hitter’s approach at the plate. Leyland’s 2012 numbers present an interesting case. He has only been called out on strikes in 16.7% of his plate appearances, which is probably a bit below (better than) the average player. But his relatively low strikeout rate isn’t necessarily a sign of great discipline because he’s only drawn a single walk (2.1%).

We see a similar, though slightly different pattern if we also include his numbers from his last two years in short-season leagues (2010 in the Gulf Coast League, and 2011in the New York-Penn League). For his minor league career, Leyland has only fanned in 10.4% of his plate appearances, and walked in 4.4% of them. So, it appears as though he has tended to swing at the ball to make (any) contact instead of selecting pitches to drive. His career .253 BABIP probably supports this thought, though he’s only had 339 total plate appearances.

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