Monthly Archives: June, 2013

How Was The Month? Detroit Tigers June Report

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

Not too bad.

14-13 (43-37 Overall)

The month of June caused some consternation among Tigers fans, but the overall numbers look pretty good. They easily could have won a few extra games, but in general it’s hard to be too upset with the second best offense in baseball during the month (118 wRC+) and the 4th best pitching staff (3.9 WAR), placing their season ranks at 2nd (112 wRC+) and 1st (16.6 WAR). The Tigers might not have a record that perfectly lines up with the overall performance, but those things will catch up as the season wears on.

Miguel Cabrera led the way and pulls his full season totals to .373/.461/.680, 207 wRC+, 5.6 WAR after a fantastic month. Austin Jackson came back and played 15 phenomenal games while the team also had big contributions from Peralta and Infante. Additionally, the Tigers were lifted by 29 excellent PA from Don Kelly who hit .347/.379/.500 during the month

Despite struggles over the last two weeks, the pitching staff still stacks up across the full season as the Tigers feature 4 starters with 2.8 WAR or better, not to mention Porcello’s (1.5), Smyly’s (1.3), and Benoit’s (1.0) strong performances. Verlander wasn’t his usual self during June and Sanchez only threw 10 innings due to injury, but Scherzer, Fister, and Porcello all offered sub 3.30 FIPs and Smyly and Benoit were lights out. If you can block out Valverde’s 9.45 ERA and 9.81 FIP during the month, you’d probably have a much nicer record.

A lot of fans have taken the last few days to jump off the bandwagon, but there are really no signs that is warranted. The Tigers remain one of the best hitting teams in the league and have the best staff in the game and didn’t perform much off that pace in June. Fans tend to only watch their own team very closely and tend to make a big deal out of what they perceive as flaws, when in reality those “deficiencies” are typical features of baseball.

Relax, everyone. Baseball is fun and this is an excellent team.

The Moment: Victor Martinez makes a potential play of the year against the Sox at first base on June 23rd.

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How Was The Game (June 30, 2013)

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A missed opportunity.

Rays 3, Tigers 1

While we didn’t see the Rick Porcello (4-6, 86.1 IP, 5.21 ERA, 3.65 FIP, 1.5 WAR) who dominated hitters from May to mid June, we saw an effective Porcello who went 6 innings and gave the Tigers a chance to win. He allowed 3 runs, but only a couple of well hit balls to go with 2 BB and 3 K. Miguel Cabrera crushed a 4th inning HR into the Ray Tank, but the Tigers wouldn’t get any more despite loading the bases with no outs in the 7th. After taking the opener so cleanly on Friday, losing the last two so closely stings, but probably not as much as Ben Zobrist’s right shoulder after Leyland ordered Porcello to hit him in the first inning because Jim Leyland thinks baseball needs more violence. Hopefully, MLB will suspend Leyland, but the odds of that seem quite slim because MLB tends to support this kind of childish behavior. It’ll be a quick turnaround after the flight to Toronto as the Tigers will face the Jays Monday at 1pm with Jose Alvarez (1-1, 16.2 IP, 3.78 ERA, 5.70 FIP, -0.1 WAR) hopefully making his last start for a while with Sanchez’s return looming.

The Moment: Cabrera sends one into the Rays Tank in RCF, just the second player to ever do so.

SOEFA Sunday: Reliever Rankings Update (June 30, 2013)

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You’ll recall earlier this week we introduced are very own reliever rankings called SOEFA, which you can read about in detail here. For a brief refresher, it combines strand rate, expected OBP against, ERA-, and FIP- into a deviation from league average. Zero is average. This includes all pitchers who have thrown at least 20 IP in relief. Should you wish to know the SOEFA for any other reliever, or on a day that isn’t Sunday, hit us on Twitter or in the comments section.

Rank Player Team SOEFA
1 Alex Torres Rays 1.39
2 Neal Cotts Rangers 1.26
3 Sergio Romo Giants 0.99
4 Jason Grilli Pirates 0.94
5 Joaquin Benoit Tigers 0.92
6 Mark Melancon Pirates 0.88
7 Drew Smyly Tigers 0.86
8 Jordan Walden Braves 0.83
9 Koji Uehara Red Sox 0.79
10 Edward Mujica Cardinals 0.79
11 Greg Holland Royals 0.79
12 Jesse Crain White Sox 0.78
13 Kenley Jansen Dodgers 0.75
14 Trevor Rosenthal Cardinals 0.74
15 Kevin Gregg Cubs 0.74
16 Brett Cecil Blue Jays 0.73
17 Glen Perkins Twins 0.73
18 Preston Claiborne Yankees 0.72
19 Sam LeCure Reds 0.72
20 Robbie Ross Rangers 0.71
21 Oliver Perez Mariners 0.69
22 Joe Thatcher Padres 0.66
23 Casey Janssen Blue Jays 0.64
24 Boone Logan Yankees 0.61
25 Sean Doolittle Athletics 0.6
26 Tommy Hunter Orioles 0.6
27 Junichi Tazawa Red Sox 0.6
28 Josh Collmenter Diamondbacks 0.58
29 Craig Kimbrel Braves 0.58
30 Casey Fien Twins 0.57
31 Brad Ziegler Diamondbacks 0.57
32 Edgmer Escalona Rockies 0.56
33 Vin Mazzaro Pirates 0.53
34 Tyson Ross Padres 0.51
35 Brandon Kintzler Brewers 0.49
36 Shawn Kelley Yankees 0.49
37 Jim Henderson Brewers 0.49
38 Tanner Scheppers Rangers 0.47
39 Brian Matusz Orioles 0.46
40 Tim Collins Royals 0.46
41 Luis Avilan Braves 0.46
42 Joel Peralta Rays 0.44
43 Andrew Miller Red Sox 0.43
44 Matt Reynolds Diamondbacks 0.43
45 Chad Gaudin Giants 0.43
46 Ryan Cook Athletics 0.42
47 Aroldis Chapman Reds 0.42
48 James Russell Cubs 0.42
49 Scott Downs Angels 0.42
50 Joe Smith Indians 0.42
51 Luke Gregerson Padres 0.4
52 Rafael Soriano Nationals 0.39
53 David Robertson Yankees 0.38
54 Dale Thayer Padres 0.38
55 Jonathan Papelbon Phillies 0.38
56 Matt Belisle Rockies 0.37
57 Michael Kohn Angels 0.36
58 Seth Maness Cardinals 0.36
59 Rafael Betancourt Rockies 0.35
60 Darren O’Day Orioles 0.35
61 Nate Jones White Sox 0.35
62 Josh Outman Rockies 0.35
63 John Axford Brewers 0.35
64 Ernesto Frieri Angels 0.33
65 Rex Brothers Rockies 0.32
66 Bobby Parnell Mets 0.32
67 Chad Qualls Marlins 0.32
68 Addison Reed White Sox 0.31
69 Tom Gorzelanny Brewers 0.31
70 Grant Balfour Athletics 0.3
71 Justin Wilson Pirates 0.27
72 Anthony Varvaro Braves 0.27
73 Jerome Williams Angels 0.26
74 Paco Rodriguez Dodgers 0.25
75 Luke Hochevar Royals 0.25
76 J.P. Howell Dodgers 0.24
77 Jamey Wright Rays 0.23
78 Matt Thornton White Sox 0.23
79 Cody Allen Indians 0.22
80 Jason Frasor Rangers 0.22
81 Pat Neshek Athletics 0.21
82 Steve Delabar Blue Jays 0.21
83 Greg Burke Mets 0.2
84 Troy Patton Orioles 0.2
85 Jean Machi Giants 0.2
86 Alfredo Simon Reds 0.19
87 Antonio Bastardo Phillies 0.19
88 Drew Storen Nationals 0.19
89 Bryan Shaw Indians 0.18
90 Tony Watson Pirates 0.18
91 Adam Warren Yankees 0.17
92 Tyler Clippard Nationals 0.17
93 Anthony Swarzak Twins 0.17
94 Craig Breslow Red Sox 0.17
95 Steve Cishek Marlins 0.14
96 Aaron Loup Blue Jays 0.13
97 Dane de la Rosa Angels 0.13
98 Brian Duensing Twins 0.12
99 Alfredo Figaro Brewers 0.12
100 Carter Capps Mariners 0.11
101 Charlie Furbush Mariners 0.11
102 Jesse Chavez Athletics 0.1
103 Adam Ottavino Rockies 0.09
104 Jared Burton Twins 0.08
105 Craig Stammen Nationals 0.08
106 Matt Lindstrom White Sox 0.08
107 Joe Kelly Cardinals 0.07
108 Jose Veras Astros 0.05
109 Ryan Webb Marlins 0.04
110 Joe Nathan Rangers 0.04
111 Wesley Wright Astros 0.03
112 Jim Johnson Orioles 0.03
113 Yoervis Medina Mariners 0.02
114 Bryan Morris Pirates 0.01
115 LaTroy Hawkins Mets 0
116 Aaron Crow Royals 0
117 Jose Cisnero Astros -0.01
118 Ryan Pressly Twins -0.01
119 Burke Badenhop Brewers -0.01
120 Cesar Ramos Rays -0.01
121 Fernando Rodney Rays -0.02
122 Darin Downs Tigers -0.03
123 Tim Stauffer Padres -0.03
124 Cory Gearrin Braves -0.06
125 Mike Dunn Marlins -0.06
126 Matt Albers Indians -0.07
127 David Hernandez Diamondbacks -0.07
128 Joe Ortiz Rangers -0.08
129 Jerry Blevins Athletics -0.08
130 Wilton Lopez Rockies -0.08
131 Jose Mijares Giants -0.08
132 J.J. Hoover Reds -0.1
133 Tom Wilhelmsen Mariners -0.12
134 Andrew Bailey Red Sox -0.13
135 Mariano Rivera Yankees -0.13
136 Alex Wilson Red Sox -0.15
137 Brad Lincoln Blue Jays -0.16
138 Vinnie Pestano Indians -0.16
139 Paul Clemens Astros -0.17
140 Josh Roenicke Twins -0.18
141 Hector Ambriz Astros -0.19
142 Darren Oliver Blue Jays -0.19
143 Scott Rice Mets -0.19
144 Nick Hagadone Indians -0.2
145 Phil Coke Tigers -0.25
146 Jonathan Broxton Reds -0.25
147 Jake McGee Rays -0.25
148 Brandon Lyon Mets -0.26
149 A.J. Ramos Marlins -0.26
150 Tony Sipp Diamondbacks -0.27
151 Michael Gonzalez Brewers -0.28
152 Matt Guerrier Dodgers -0.29
153 Blake Beavan Mariners -0.29
154 George Kontos Giants -0.33
155 Logan Ondrusek Reds -0.34
156 Garrett Richards Angels -0.37
157 Heath Bell Diamondbacks -0.38
158 Mike Adams Phillies -0.39
159 Clayton Mortensen Red Sox -0.4
160 T.J. McFarland Orioles -0.4
161 Rich Hill Indians -0.47
162 Travis Blackley Astros -0.48
163 Henry Rodriguez – – – -0.48
164 Esmil Rogers Blue Jays -0.5
165 Ronald Belisario Dodgers -0.5
166 Kyle Farnsworth Rays -0.53
167 Bruce Chen Royals -0.59
168 Jeremy Horst Phillies -0.59
169 Jeremy Affeldt Giants -0.61
170 Kelvin Herrera Royals -0.68
171 Michael Kirkman Rangers -0.71
172 Carlos Marmol Cubs -0.72
173 Huston Street Padres -0.77
174 Shawn Camp Cubs -0.83
175 Anthony Bass Padres -0.94
176 Pedro Strop Orioles -1.08
177 Hector Rondon Cubs -1.13
178 Brandon League Dodgers -1.6

The Morning Edition (June 30, 2013)

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

 

From Last Night:

  • Chris Davis homers twice to reach #30 as the O’s smack the Yanks
  • Jacob Turner twirls his first CG, drops 7 K on the Padres
  • Wainwright goes the distance again to beat the A’s, Parker leaves with an injury
  • Cuddyer extends the streak to 26 as the Rockies spoil 8 great innings from Cain
  • Liriano solid as the Bucs are the first to 50
  • Mesoraco lifts the Reds in the 11th
  • Soriano’s 11th inning HR beats the M’s
  • Bautista homers twice to beat the Sox

What I’m Watching Today:

  • Zack Wheeler pitches at Citi Field for the first time (1p Eastern)
  • Chris Sale looks to jump onto the Appointment TV list (2p Eastern)
  • Latos and Darvish in Arlington (3p Eastern)
  • Bonderman! (4p Eastern)
  • The underrated Madison Bumgarner (4p Eastern)

The Big Question:

  • Will Chris Sale have another great outing?

I’ve often chided Sale for his delivery because it looks like he’s about to require TJ surgery after every pitch, but it’s working for him and he’s healthy so far. He’s also had a couple of great outings lately that his team didn’t support very well and he’s looking to keep at least half of that equation going. As I prepare to update the Appointment TV list of starters on Tuesday, Sale is definitely on notice. Another great start and he’s a lock. A solid one and he should still make it easily. Sale’s currently 13th among starters in WAR with 2.7 and has improved across the board this season after a very strong 2012. His platoon splits are fun to look at, too. The strikeouts and walks are pretty similar, but man is the triple slash line crazy. Lefties don’t strikeout more or walk much less than righties, but they are essentially helpless. They have ZERO extra base hits.

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I would recommend Francona avoid playing his lefties. Just a thought. Or outlaw the slider.

How Was The Game? (June 29, 2013)

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Another extra inning loss.

Rays 4, Tigers 3 (10 innings)

After a great all-around win on Friday, the Tigers sent Justin Verlander (8-5, 105 IP, 3.77 ERA, 3.05 FIP, 2.8 WAR) to the hill and while he wasn’t at his best, there were good signs regarding his stuff and his efficiency. He allowed 3 runs (2 earned), but pitched 8 innings for the first time this season to go with 4 BB and 4 K. It wasn’t vintage Verlander, but it was a much more effective version than he’s been the last few times out. The bats offered three runs in the 3rd on a Jackson homerun and a 2 RBI single from Peralta, but the Rays clawed back and tied it in the 8th leaving it up to the bullpens to hammer out a resolution in the 9th inning and beyond. After a lights out 9th from Smyly, the Tigers handed it over to Rondon in the 10th who allowed two baserunners between a flyout and a strikeout, but allowed the game winning hit to Escobar. Should you care to peruse his velocity, here is a handy tweet:

The Tigers will saddle back up Sunday behind Rick Porcello (4-5, 80.1 IP, 5.27 ERA, 3.66 FIP, 1.3 WAR) who will look to lead the Tigers to a series victory.

The Moment: Verlander gets through 8 for the first time this season.

The Nine Best Seasons Under 9 Wins

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At New English D we’re among the those who wish to see the pitcher win removed from our baseball consciousness. It doesn’t measure an individual pitcher’s skill, but that’s how people use it. A pitcher’s won-loss record is about his performance, but it’s also about his defense, his run support, the other starting pitcher, and the other team’s offense. Also, luck, but I’m fine with luck.

Our most recent podcast covers the topic at length, but evidence and examples can do more to convince you about the flaws of wins than my rambling ever could. The catalyst for this post comes from something I discovered last night when contributing to Brian Kenny’s noble effort to #KillTheWin:

Matt Harvey (Go Heels!) is better in games he doesn’t win than almost every other pitcher in the league is overall. It’s time we get his back.

The rules are simple, these are The Nine best season by Wins Above Replacement (WAR) for qualifying starting pitchers who won fewer than nine games. In MLB history, there are 8286 qualifying seasons from 1901-2012 with 1187 finishing with fewer than 9 wins. These are the best.

9. Cliff Lee, 2012 Phillies

6-9, 211 IP, 3.16 ERA, 3.13 FIP, 4.9 WAR

8. Ken Johnson, 1962 Colt .45s

7-16, 197 IP, 3.84 ERA, 2.80 FIP, 5.0 WAR

7. Dutch Leonard, 1949 Cubs

7-16, 180 IP, 4.15 ERA, 2.71 FIP, 5.0 WAR

6. Bill Gullickson, 1981 Expos

7-9, 157.1 IP, 2.80 ERA, 2.11 FIP, 5.0 WAR

5. Al Benton, 1942 Tigers

7-13, 226.2 IP, 2.90 ERA, 3.07 FIP, 5.0 WAR

4. Steve Rogers, 1976 Expos

7-17, 230 IP, 3.25 ERA, 2.85 FIP, 5.1 WAR

3. Bob Welch, 1986 Dodgers 

7-13, 235.2 IP, 3.28 ERA, 2.78 FIP, 5.3 WAR

2. Curt Schilling, 2003 Diamondbacks

8-9, 168 IP, 2.95 ERA, 2.66 FIP, 5.7 WAR

1. Nolan Ryan, 1987 Astros

8-16, 211.2 IP, 2.76 ERA, 2.47 FIP, 6.6 WAR

Wins generally correlate with good performance, but there are many cases in which good performances don’t result in wins and bad performances do. Pitchers can improve their likelihood of victory by pitching well, but they can’t guarantee it. Wins aren’t a completely useless measure of pitcher performance, but when we have so many statistics that are dramatically better, why should be place any importance on wins?

Here’s some evidence writ large. If we use Wins to predict three other statistics, WAR, ERA, and FIP, it doesn’t look good for wins.

WAR ERA FIP
Adjusted R Squared 0.38 0.24 0.13

What these numbers tell us is that 38, 24, and 13% of the variation in these numbers can be explained by variation in wins. Let’s give Wins the benefit of the doubt and pick WAR for the graph. There is a clear trend, but there is a lot of variation in WAR that wins can’t explain. The sample size here is over 8,000. You can be both terrible and amazing and achieve the same number of wins.

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It’s time to #KillTheWin.

The Morning Edition (June 29, 2013)

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

 

From Last Night:

  • Indians beat the Sox 19-10 in game one of a DH, Casper Wells (the OF!) is the only Sox arm not to allow a hit
  • Harvey goes 7, gives up 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 10 K…doesn’t get a win and the Mets lose
  • Teheran K’s 10 Dbacks, Braves win 3-0
  • CC dominates early, but the Orioles get to him late to win 4-3
  • The Pirates big inning backs Cole’s victory
  • Miller gets chased early in Oakland
  • Cuddyer takes the hit streak to 25

What I’m Watching Today:

  • Wainwright duels Parker in Oakland (4p Eastern)
  • Turner welcomes the Friars to Miami (7p Eastern)
  • Liriano tries to keep up his ’06 impression (7p Eastern)
  • Lee and Ryu in LA (10p Eastern)

The Big Question:

  • Is it time to track Cuddyer?

On an eventful Friday, three things stood out most. First, the Indians and White Sox played an insane game that featured former Tigers outfielder throwing a scoreless inning. Second, Matt Harvey threw another brilliant gem that his team coughed up. Third, Michael Cuddyer has now crossed the 25 game mark on his hit streak. I usually take notice around 20 and lock in past 25. I’m in love with hit streak chases because DiMaggio’s 56 game streak is the the single most impressive record in professional sports and any attempt to get near it is so impressive. Cuddyer only needs three more hits to be halfway. Wow.

How Was The Game? (June 28, 2013)

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A powerful display.

Tigers 6, Rays 3

Parallel tracks usually take you to the same location and that’s the story of this game. Max Scherzer (12-0, 110.1 IP, 3.10 ERA, 2.67 FIP, 3.3 WAR) had another fine outing, keeping the Rays to just 3 runs in 7 innings while striking out 9 and pitched in almost no traffic, allowing 2 of the 3 runs on solo homers. But the other track was no less impressive as Miguel Cabrera led the way with 2 HR, a single, and a double, moving his season numbers up to 209 wRC+ and 5.4 WAR, both of which are easily MLB bests. But it was Prince Fielder who sealed the deal with a majestic homerun that hit the catwalk in RF, perhaps as it was still traveling upward. The bullpen shut the game down in the final two innings and put the Tigers in position to take the serious to take the series Saturday behind Justin Verlander (8-5, 97 IP, 3.90 ERA, 2.86 FIP, 2.8 WAR).

The Moment: Fielder hits the catwalk on a 2 run HR in the 7th.

New English D Audio (Episode 3)

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

On this edition of the podcast, I cover why you shouldn’t panic about the 2013 Tigers, why it’s time to see what Bruce Rondon can do, how Cabrera’s 2013 season is better than anything he’s ever done, our new reliever statistic SOEFA, and why RBI and Wins aren’t good statistics for measuring individual performance. The author wishes to point out that he misspoke near the 8:00 mark when he said Dirks is having one of the best offensive seasons in the league. He obviously meant defense. Dirks is good at defense.

Feel free to send questions for future editions of the podcast to @NeilWeinberg44 on Twitter or to NewEnglishD@gmail.com.

Download (Approx 33 mins)

Bruce Rondon Returns

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Bruce Rondon has nothing left to prove in Triple A. The minor leagues aren’t a challenge. He throws too hard for anyone to handle him. Tons of strikeouts, but also his share of walks. He hardly ever gave up runs, and has only allowed a few homers.

There’s just nothing left to prove. He might not be major league ready, but we’ll never know without putting him feet first into the fire. The Tigers bullpen has been taxed as the starters have stubbed their toes in the last few days and they needs reinforcements. The hot hand and the top relief prospect is the fireballing Rondon. It’s time.

I don’t know who he’s replacing just yet and I don’t know how Leyland plans to use him, but I have a suspicion we’ll see him pitching as the “closer” sooner rather than later. He’s exactly what Leyland and Dombrowski value in a closer. He throws hard, is kind of erratic, and has a “closer mentality.” I think most of that is nonsense, but I think he has what it takes to succeed in leverage situations, so I’m not going to cause a big fuss.

He’s going to strike batters out, but he’s going to walk some too. If you squint, you’ll probably think it’s Jose Valverde circa 2010 with a little extra on his fastball.

More than anything, he seems ready. I wrote a few weeks ago about how Castellanos should get the call when he’s ready, not when it makes financial sense. The same is true for Rondon. It’s especially true for Rondon because relievers have short shelf lives. Relievers are relievers because they’re fragile or have a limited repertoire, so let’s get all we can from them before they lose it.

Velocity peaks early, so let’s get everything we can out of his 100 mph arm. He averages 99.3 mph during his 2 inning stint in Detroit earlier this season. The slider is a good pitch, but the command is a problem. To get big leaguers out, he’s going to half to pitch against them. You can’t learn by facing hitters who can’t touch your fastball.

It’s time. It’s time to see what he has and give him a shot to learn. It’s also time for him to come under the tutelage of Jeff Jones, who might be some type of changeup and/or strikeout savant. (Also, this, this, and this)

Don’t overreact to his first appearance, good or bad. Don’t make up your mind based on small samples. Let’s go to Rondon and see what he can do. And remember, don’t look at saves.

But do look at SOEFA, the new reliever stat from New English D.

 

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