Monthly Archives: May, 2015

How Was The Game? (May 23, 2015)

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Deflating. 

Astros 3, Tigers 2

The Tigers and Astros traded 3rd inning runs, and when the Tigers scored on a Jose Altuve error in the 5th, it was looking like the Tigers were on their way to another victory. Then, on a 2-1 pitch, Ian Kinsler grounded into a 5-4-3 triple play, killing a big threat for the Tigers. In the top of the next frame, the Astros punched through for two more runs against Kyle Lobstein (8 GS, 47.2 IP, 4.34 ERA, 4.11 FIP) and Alburquerque, and then handed it off to their bullpen to shut down the Tigers bats. If you’re going to lose a game, you imagine it will be the Lobstein game, but it did feel like the Tigers gave away a big chance on a bit of dumb luck when Kinsler bounced it right to third. They’ll still have a shot to win the series Sunday with Anibal Sanchez (9 GS, 54.2 IP, 5.60 ERA, 4.39 FIP) getting ball.

The Moment: McCann scampers home on a Gose ROE.

How Was The Game? (May 22, 2015)

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A little payback.

Tigers 6, Astros 2

This game was mostly about the third inning. It started with Alfredo Simon (9 GS, 57.1 IP, 2.67 ERA, 3.60 FIP) allowing his first run during a Kinsler error and letting it snowball with a big double to center, but it ended with JD Martinez driving in Iggy and Gose with a dinger to right field a pitch after missing one down the left field line. It was an otherwise snappy affair until the Tigers insured themselves in the 8th with a Cabrera single, Cespedes double/error, Davis infield hit, and McCann single to break it open. McHugh was solid and Simon was as well, but the Tigers have already earned no worse than a split heading into the Kyle Lobstein (7 GS, 42 IP, 4.29 ERA, 4.08 FIP) game on Saturday.

The Moment: JD Martinez goes the other way for a 3-run homer immediately after hooking one foul.

How Was The Game? (May 21, 2015)

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Nicely bookended. 

Tigers 6, Astros 5

If you were trying to cheat on your recap, you were all ready to lead with some Nick Castellanos related observation. After all, his big two run bomb in the 4th seemed like a decisive blow, especially after the club added on in the 4th, but the story was rewritten as the afternoon progressed. The Tigers were up 5-0 entering the 7th when the Astros started to get to David Price (9 GS, 59.2 IP, 3.32 ERA, 3.33 FIP), who struck out 12 in 6.2 innings while allowing 3 runs in his final frame. Price was sharp early and just lost it a bit at the end, but his bullpen didn’t help him out, allowing one of his runs to score and plating two of their own to send it into extra innings. When the 11th inning came it was James McCann who sent everyone home happy, walking off for the first time and also clearing the fence for the first time as well. The win is the club’s second straight and they’ll try to make it three Friday night with Alfredo Simon (8 GS, 50.1 IP, 3.04 ERA, 3.80 FIP) on the mound.

The Moment: McCann walks off!

How Was The Game? (May 20, 2015)

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Late blooming. 

Tigers 5, Brewers 2

For most of the evening, it looked like we were in for another night lamenting the not-quite-there Tigers offense. Over the first 7 innings, the teams traded runs on two occasions, allowing Shane Greene (9 GS, 53.1 IP, 4.05 ERA, 3.66 FIP) to look good over 6.1 innings, preventing the Tigers from controlling the game. With two outs in the 8th, Martinez and Cespedes walked, Collins singled, and Castellanos came to the plate in the definition of a high leverage situation. He fouled off a pair of two strike pitches before punching one down in the right field corner behind Parra to clear the bases and give the Tigers a path to victory. Soria allowed a double to start the 9th, but gathered himself to get the final three outs and spare the club a sweep. David Price (8 GS, 53 IP, 3.40 ERA, 3.76 FIP) is in line to face the Astros on Thursday.

The Moment: Castellanos sends one into the corner for a bases-clearing triple.

Does Sparky’s 40 Game Rule Actually Work?

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

Through 40 games, the Tigers have a .575 winning percentage. That’s a 93 win pace. If you go by the projections, they’re on an 88 win pace including the wins they’ve already bagged. There’s so much that can happen between now and the end of the season, like injuries to key players and significant trades. For now, they’re playing like a good team and they probably are one. They’re short of great, but plenty good.

 

They’re 3rd in baseball with a 111 wRC+ and they’ve been average or a little better depending on how you like to measure pitching. But Sparky said he knew what type of team he had after 40 games and that’s where we are right now. Based on what we’ve seen, the Tigers have flaws but they are certainly contenders.

But before we go, was Sparky right? Can you tell what kind of team you have after 40 games? Let’s look back at the 114 year history of the Tigers.

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It’s an R^2 of .50, if you’re into that kind of thing (and if you are willing to assume linearity). Basically, you an explain about half of a team’s won-loss record by their first 40 games. If it had no bearing on their future won-loss record, that R^2 would be closer to .25 because 40 games is about one quarter of a season. If you correlate the first 40 with the rest of the season, you get an R^2 of about .22.

In other words, the first 40 games are a decent proxy, but nothing is carved in stone.

 

How Was The Game? (May 19, 2015)

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Blech.

Brewers 8, Tigers 1

All you need to know about this game is that the bullpen was the good part. The rest kinda falls into place. The bats couldn’t get anything going against the pedestrian Nelson and Anibal Sanchez (9 GS, 54.2 IP, 5.60 ERA, 4.41) got tagged for three straight, out-of-reach-putting homers in the 3rd inning. Ausmus got tossed after some bad calls against Kinsler but the Tigers went pretty quietly otherwise. The club will look to avoid the sweep Wednesday behind Shane Greene (8 GS, 47 IP, 4.21 ERA, 3.53 FIP).

The Moment: Kinsler says bad words to the umpire and then his manager gets tossed?

Deconstructing Anthony Gose

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Anthony Gose has a .375 wOBA! What an amazing start to his Tigers career. He’s been one of the league’s best so far to date. It’s been a fun ride, but of course it won’t last. Partially because Gose isn’t a great hitter, but also because literally no one sustains a .493 BABIP for an entire season. I’m not talking about “only great hitters do it,” I’m talking about literally no one at all. It’s just not a thing that happens, so it’s worth considering what Gose will be once his BABIP becomes a regular BABIP.

Now, you might be screaming at your screen, “But he can sustain a higher BABIP because he’s fast and sprays the ball around,” and you’re partially right. We’re going to look at a range of options for Gose, none of which assume he’ll be average in that department or worse. Let’s start with some assumptions. First, let’s give Gose a 7% walk rate. That’s right around his career average and a little better than his numbers to date. Let’s also be generous and say he can produce a 25% strikeout rate, even though he’s at 30% for the year and 28% for his career. Let’s also be generous and give him credit for all of his power to date and believe in his ability to run something above an average ISO, partially thanks to his speed.

In other words, let’s say Gose is a 7 BB%, 25 K%, .150 ISO hitter for the next 450 PA. I think that’s a pretty sunny outlook across those three stats and you could definitely make them all worse more easily than you could make them better. Now let’s hold all of those things constant and look at three possible BABIP numbers, affecting only his rate of singles.

Given his profile, a .320 BABIP seems like a nice floor. He has the speed and batted ball tendencies to make that a pretty reasonable low point. He should be an above average BABIP guy, and his career mark, including this year is .330.

Now let’s say that Gose is arguably one of the best BABIP hitters in the game and has a true talent up around the Cabrera’s, Votto’s, and Trout’s of the world. A very high true talent BABIP is about .350, so let’s use that as another data point.

Finally, let’s say that Gose is going to have an elite single season BABIP. The best anyone can hope for is .390 to .400 over a single season, so let’s peg it at .390. No one can do that year in and year out, but for 500-600 PA at a time, it’s possible.

In other words, Gose could be as low as .320 or as high as .390 for this one year, but his true talent range is probably in the .320 to .350 range. Where does that leave his offensive production give the parameters we agreed to? Remember, this is rest of season wOBA.
Screenshot 2015-05-18 at 10.41.40 PM

If you think Gose is going to have a Rod Carew BABIP for the rest of the season, the best you can hope for is a .340 wOBA or so. If you think he’s going to have a Cabrera BABIP, he’s a league average hitter. If you think he’s going to come back to his career norm (albeit a short career), he’s a .300 wOBA guy. And remember, this is assuming he cuts a few strikeouts and continues to dramatically outperform his power projection. These are optimistic projections at each BABIP level, and they could be far worse if he loses a bit of that power.

I was curious what the feeling was on Gose and asked the Twitter faithful if they would go over or under .310 wOBA for the rest of the season. There were 13 votes for the under and 8 votes for the over, which is just about perfect give that his rest of season projection is somewhere in the .300 to .310 range based on ZiPS and Steamer.

There’s an obvious selection bias in that poll, in that the people who would be likely to see that tweet follow me and people who follow me are more saber-friendly than average. And also have to know what wOBA is to vote.

Anthony Gose has has put together a .375 wOBA so far his year, which has been worth something like 5-6 runs above average already. You can’t un-play those games, which is great for the Tigers, but there’s also virtually no reason to think Gose is going to be a good hitter going forward. The best projection you can sell is that maybe he winds up being an average hitter. With good wheels and some range in the outfield, that might be an average player, which is perfectly fine.

He shouldn’t hit leadoff or anything, but it’s not like he should be in AAA either. If you really believe in his power (I don’t) and that he can rein in the strikeouts a bit (I don’t), you have to believe he’s capable of sustaining an top shelf BABIP for him to be an offensive contributor. It’s not impossible, but if you’re counting on Gose to be a star based on his opening month, recognize how unlikely that truly is.

 

How Was The Game? (May 18, 2015)

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Too National League-y.

Brewers 3, Tigers 2

It didn’t take long for Carlos Gomez to shake up the Comerica Park crowd by launching a leadoff home run down the left field line, but Kyle Lobstein (7 GS, 42 IP, 4.29 ERA, 4.10 FIP) settled in and gave the Tigers some good innings against the visiting Brewers. Ramirez got him for another homer in the 4th and then Gomez added another run with a single in the 7th to chase the young lefty. The Tigers did their scoring the National League way, manufacturing a run in the 1st and 2nd inning  each and not getting much going otherwise. After playing very well against the best team in the NL Central, the Tigers put together a poor showing against the worst team in that division. Anibal Sanchez (8 GS, 51 IP, 4.76 ERA, 3.70 FIP) will look to turn it around Tuesday.

The Moment: Anthony Gose lays out to make an inning ending grab in the 7th.

How Was The Game? (May 17, 2015)

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Close enough.

Cardinals 2, Tigers 1

Sweeping one of the best teams in the league was probably too much to ask, but the Tigers gave it a good run. Cabrera tagged one to right center in the first to knock in Kinsler, but the Tigers really couldn’t get much else going the rest of the evening, and the Cards plugged away with a run in the 3rd and then a Kolten Wong bomb in the 6th off Alfredo Simon (8 GS, 50.1 IP, 3.04 ERA, 3.83 FIP) to take the lead. Simon pitched well enough and Lynn was very good for most of the night, leading it to feel as if neither team was ever really threatening. In the 8th, the Tigers got two men on, but a big double play from Maness ended the hoep. They got a man on in the 9th but couldn’t score, falling 2-1. The club heads home to face the Brewers with Kyle Lobstein (6 GS, 35.1 IP, 4.33 ERA, 3.64 FIP) going on Monday.

The Moment: Cabrera rips one to right center in the first that kept going.

How Was The Game? (May 16, 2015)

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Satisfying.

Tigers 4, Cardinals 3

With the rain pouring down, Miguel Cabrera reached 400 home runs in the 1st inning, and then we basically had to wait around for an hour and a half to see if it was going to count. After the rain delay, it took David Price (8 GS, 53 IP, 3.40 ERA, 3.77 FIP) a couple of innings to find his groove, facing 11 hitters in the first two innings and surrendering a pair of solo shots. After that, he settled in nicely, retiring 13 in a row until Jhonny Peralta took him deep in the 6th. Price danced through the 7th, seconds from danger, but managed to avoid disaster. The Tigers added a pair of 3rd inning runs, setting up a even game into extras. The Tigers pushed across a run and then Rajai Davis made an incredible throw to cut down Holliday trying for two. Soria would survive the rest and give the series to the Tigers. Alfredo Simon (7 GS, 44.1 IP, 3.05 ERA, 3.53 FIP) will get the ball Sunday night for the sweep.

The Moment: Davis guns down Holliday in the 10th.

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