The Tigers Offense Is NOT Under Achieving

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

I think it’s probably safe to say that most people are upset about the state of the Tigers offense. We’re resigned to the bullpen woes, defensive struggles, and bad baserunning, but people counted on this offense to be better. Not so fast. Not so fast, at all.

The Tigers offense is not under achieving at all. They may go into slumps, but this is exactly how they were expected to perform. Allow me to demonstrate.

I grabbed all 13 players that have at least 50 plate appearances. We don’t care if Tyler Collins was bad in  a dozen trips and we don’t care about how Iglesias was supposed to hit. No one would criticize a team for playing poorly because guys got hurt. What we care about is how the players who are on the team have performed relative to our expectations about them specifically.

Certainly, Cabrera is hitting worse and we all seem to think that’s because he’s injured, but let’s look at those 13 players with their preseason Steamer projections. Steamer is a projection system that forecasts how a player should perform based on their history. Below is a table of relevant wOBA’s.

Name Proj PA Real PA Proj wOBA Real wOBA Diff
Alex Avila 391 337 0.329 0.313 -0.016
Andrew Romine 155 195 0.278 0.246 -0.032
Austin Jackson 642 420 0.338 0.322 -0.016
Bryan Holaday 163 116 0.281 0.259 -0.022
Don Kelly 364 134 0.299 0.280 -0.019
Eugenio Suarez 131 182 0.282 0.316 0.034
Ian Kinsler 676 520 0.333 0.328 -0.005
J.D. Martinez 69 291 0.304 0.391 0.087
Miguel Cabrera 656 497 0.423 0.376 -0.047
Nick Castellanos 538 399 0.314 0.312 -0.002
Rajai Davis 383 356 0.303 0.331 0.028
Torii Hunter 620 405 0.337 0.335 -0.002
Victor Martinez 567 448 0.336 0.396 0.060

Some players are doing better, some are doing worse. But on the whole, they are hitting exactly as we thought they would.

I took it a step further and weighted this group’s projected wOBA by their projected PA to get a projected team wOBA of this particular set of players. It came out to .334. I did the same thing with their actual performance and it’s .335.

In other words, the Tigers are exactly the offensive club we thought they were.

You’re going to look at this list and see Cabrera and Avila (and Jackson) below their projections and you’re going to say these guys are under-performing. Sure, but you can’t just say that and ignore how much better JDM, VMart, Davis, and Suarez are hitting. That’s cheating! If Romine was hitting like an MVP this year and Cabrera wasn’t a scrub, you couldn’t rightfully say the team was under-performing because Cabrera wasn’t hitting because Romine was over-performing to the same degree.

I’ve said this all season long, the Tigers are an 89-91 win team. They upgraded a little but then got torched by injuries, so they’re probably an 87-88 win team right now. That’s who they are and who they’re playing like. If you think they should be better, that’s a failure of expectation. The preseason projections have been spot on offensively.

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6 responses

  1. Stephen Pershing | Reply

    Problem #1: “What we care about is how the players who are on the team have performed relative to our expectations about them specifically.”

    Incorrect and illogical assumption. I don’t care about how players are performing relative to our expectations for them. I (and I can safely say that nearly all other Tigers fans) care about the following:

    1. The Tigers winning games.
    2. The Tigers winning the division.
    3. The Tigers winning a World Series.

    Problem #2: wOBA does is not a valid reflection of how the team’s offense is contributing to winning games. Yes, I said that. In baseball, getting on base does not win games. Scoring more runs than your opponent wins games. Right now the a Tigers are not out scoring their opponents often enough to win games.

    Problem #3: Your stats look at the entire season. At the moment, this is not important. Yes, I said that too. What matters is the current state of the Tigers and right now it is not good.

    This team has been in a tail spin since the All Star Break. The proof is that that in less than a month, the Tigers have turned a 7.5 game lead over KC into a .5 game deficit.

    Here is the most telling statistic about the current state of the Tigers:

    Since the All Star Break, the Tigers have averaged 2.9 runs per game against AL opponents.

    Why cherry pick that statistic? Simple; aside from last night’s game against the Pirates, the 6 other games that the Tigers have played against the NL were against 2 of the worst teams in baseball. Those games skew the run scoring numbers for the Tigers and do not accurately reflect the state of the team’s offense. On top of that, the Tigers are not going to face teams that bad again this season.

    Here is the bottom line on the Tigers’ offense; since the All Star Break the Tigers are 4-13 against AL opponents and have averaged 2.9 runs per game in those contests. The result is that the Tigers went from having the biggest division lead in baseball to second place in under a month.

    Trying to paint a rosy picture of how things are going is not productive.

    1. Problem 1 is silly, because this is the point of the article. You can’t attack the answer because you don’t care about the question.

      Problem 2: You’re just wrong about this. wOBA is designed to correlate with run scoring. And it does.

      Problem 3: It is retrospective article. Again, this comment is not germane to the question. I asked “how have they performed?” You complaint can’t be, “But yeah, how good are they right now?”

  2. Stephen Pershing | Reply

    In the Toronto series alone, the Tigers had a team LOB of 30 over 37 innings and went 8-36 w RISP. Lots of base runners, not enough runs.

    1. How exactly do you propose a team scores if not by reaching base?

      1. Stephen Pershing

        Reaching base alone is not enough.

      2. Don’t even know what this means. You know what happens when someone reaches base and then another person reaches base? Runs.

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