Thursday, April 29, 2010

Due for turnarounds?

Players with BABIPs below .240, but line drive rates above 20%:

Travis Snider .133/23.4
A.J. Pierzynski .182/24.1
Nick Johnson .200/25.0
Jhonny Peralta .220/23.5
Jeff Clement .225/20.9
Luke Scott .239/20.8

All Time Firsts, Again

Cla Meredith and Alfredo Simon recorded their first career Major League saves in back to back games this past Sunday and Tuesday, respectively.

The last time two Orioles recorded their first career saves in back to back games was May 7th and 8th, 1977 by Mike Flanagan and Scott McGregor.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Some numbers on the O's:

Baltimore has scored 3 or fewer runs 13 times this season. The Orioles have allowed 3 or fewer runs 3 times. (In fact, they've allowed 3 runs 3 times and not had a game in which they allowed 0, 1 or 2).

The O's have allowed an average of 1.03 runs in the 9th. They've allowed 0.65 runs in the 8th.

According to, the MLB average for runs allowed in the 9th is 0.49. For the 8th, it's 0.48.

Baltimore has lost 4 games in which it led or was tied going into the 9th. The MLB win percentage when ahead entering the 9th is .931.

Jackson hole

Austin Jackson is off to a solid start for the Tigers. He is batting .314/.379/.453 and his .832 OPS is 24% better than average. He has 1 HR, 6 RBI, 3 SB and 14 R in 20 games. He also is playing well defensively in center field.

Now, the trouble spot. His BABIP is a league-high .491. Franklin Gutierrez is second at .422. It is obvious Jackson cannot sustain this type of success. And he needs to sustain it because he also has a league-high 32 whiffs (in just 95 PAs). More than half his outs are Ks.

Once those balls stop dropping for hits, this low contact rate will severely impact his stats. Consider this: The BABIP leaders from Gutierrez through No. 10 Joe Mauer (covering a range of .422 to .373) all have batting averages between .320 and .389. In the case of Mauer, as an example, Jackson is batting more than a hundred points higher in BABIP yet batting 42 points lower in actual average.

Jackson's BABIP is not completely fluky, though. His line drive percentage is nearly 35, which is third-highest in MLB. And his K% is actually only fourth-worst in MLB (and a tick better than all-world Jason Heyward).

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

AL Beast?

The Baltimore Orioles have twice as many victories over AL East opponents as they do over the rest of the AL.

No holidays for Halliday

Roy Halliday got beat last night by the Giants. Heard some concern about his workload thus far, with two complete games and his MLB-leading 40 IP in 5 starts. So I looked back to see if this alone was cause for pause.

Last year, Halliday threw 36 innings in his first 5 starts, so he's not far off that mark. In 2008, Halliday really hit the ground running. He had 41 IP in 5 starts and tossed 4 CGs in his first 6 outings of the campaign. In 2007, he had 2 CGs in April and went 10 innings in his third start of the year. He threw 38.1 IP in his first 5 starts.

Even his 5 ER last night in SF should not be viewed as trouble. Halliday gave up 5 ERs twice in his first 4 starts in 2009.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Verlander's pitch counts

Justin Verlander threw 125 pitches last night to get through 5 innings. He's pitched more than 5 innings in only one of four starts this season. And his pitch count seems something of a mystery.

Here are the facts:

Verlander is tied with Rich Harden for the lead among qualified AL pitchers with 4.36 pitches per plate appearance. Yet Verlander's strike percentage (69%) is No. 2 in the AL behind only Scott Baker, who goes 3.71 pitches per plate appearance. In fact, among the top 19 pitchers in the category, Verlander is the only one averaging more than 4 pitches/PA.

First-strike percentage? Verlander (67%) is No. 3 in the AL. Among the top 21 in that category, Verlander is one of two pitchers to average more than 4.01 pitches/PA.

Verlander is tied for No. 2 in percentage of pitches swung at (50%). He is tied for 29th in contact percentage (82%). He is 33rd in swinging strikes (13%).

Yet, Verlander's BB/9 is the second worst of his career so far this season (3.68). The only other time his BB/9 was over 3 for a season was 2008 when he was 11-17 with a 4.84 ERA. Otherwise, he's 54-24 with a 3.57 ERA.

Also, Verlander has gone 0-2 on 34 of 95 PAs. That's 36% while the AL average is 22. He's thrown 23 strikes on 0-2, but has only 5 three-pitch Ks. He's given up two hits on 0-2.

I have to contemplate what these numbers mean. I guess batters simply are waiting out Verlander.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

They might be Giants

Or they might not be.

While perusing the press notes available for each team on, I came across a few interesting tidbits on the SF Giants.

* The Giants have spent 16 days in first place this season. Over the previous three years, they spent a total of 3 days.

* On Tuesday, San Fran lost for the first time in 24 games (since 1958) when limiting an opponent to 1 hit.

* Since 1900, the Giants have lost three games in which they limited their foe to 1 hit. The first was in 1906 and the second was in 1917.

* The Giants lost three consecutive games (April 18-20) in which they didn't allow a hit with runners in scoring position. San Fran went 1-for-25 with RISP and lost 2-1, 3-2 and 1-0.


All of the teams in the NL East are above .500. Oh, wait. I mean all but one.


The O's get a much needed day off today (needed for me, anyway) before starting Boston's turnaround tomorrow in Fenway Park.

While the pitching is much improved over last year, the snakebitten O's have 4 blown saves, the closer they traded for in the offseason is on the DL and their best pitcher from 2009 has been demoted to AAA Norfolk.

The defense started well, committing one error in the first 7 games, however, they've committed 9 more in the last 9 games.

The offense is horrible. With no sign of improvement. Leadoff hitter Brian Roberts is on the DL. Felix Pie replaced Roberts at the top of the lineup and hit .400 til he went on the DL. No one is hitting. No one advances runners. No one can bunt. No one takes pitches. Everyone makes outs. Quickly. The O's offense is painful to watch, but at least it's over quickly.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Momentum is the next day's starting pitcher

More fun with Game Scores!

The three AL teams with Game Score averages of 55 or better are Tampa Bay, Toronto and NY. They are a combined 29-13 (.690).

Of the nine teams with Game Score averages of 50 or better, seven have winning records. The nine teams are a combined 75-52 (.591).

Of the five teams with Game Score averages of 49 or worse, none have winning records. (The Tigers are .500.) The five teams are a combined 24-47 (.338).


Ryan Madson blew another save last night. He is now in his career 4-8 with 18 saves (in 38 save opps) and a 4.51 ERA in save situations and 25-13 with a 2.66 ERA in non-save spots.

His BABIP in save/non-save situations is .324/.289 and he has allowed 17 HR in 141.2 save situation innings and 22 HR in 290.2 non-save situation innings. He has a 4.55 ERA in the 9th inning and his OPS+ in the 9th is 13% worse than average. His OPS+ in the 8th is 19% better than average. His K/BB ratio in the 9th is 2.60 and in the 8th is 3.33.

The fact he seems more hittable in save situations/9th innings leads one to believe it's a matter of his approach in those situations. According to Fangraphs data, Madson gets a much higher percentage of swings at pitches outside the strike zone than average and gets more swings and misses than average. He also gets more swings at pitches inside the strike zone and tends to throw a higher percentage of pitches in the strike zone than average. This might sound odd, but maybe he throws too many pitches for strikes? Or too many hittable pitches for strikes.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Start and stop

The Tigers are now 7-6 and the bats have gone cold. This is not good news for the starting pitching. Last night, Dontrelle Willis had a good outing, but lost 2-0. Of course, the bats bailed out the pitchers during the first week of the season, so it evens out I suppose.

Detroit's starters have put together three decent starts in a row for the first time this season, which is good. But they haven't been great starts. So far in 13 games, the starters have posted a Game Score of 60+ just twice. Six starts have been below 45. Remarkably, the Tigs are 3-3 in those six outings, but it's unlikely you can play .500 ball that way over time.

Also, the Tigers' starters have pitched only 62 percent of the staff's total innings. Oakland, which leads the AL in ERA, has got 67 percent from its starters. Texas, which is second in ERA, has gotten 66 percent. Tampa Bay, which is third in ERA, is at 69 percent.

The Tigers' 5.5 IP per start is the lowest in the AL. They are second to Boston for fewest quality starts and tied with Baltimore for second-worst Game Score average, again behind Boston.

Oh no-no!

I had to travel to Atlanta for business last weekend. I went to the Rockies-Braves game Friday night, which Atlanta won 9-5 in a crisp 3 hours, 17 minutes before an announced crowd of 27,692. I had to work Saturday. So, I missed a no-hitter Saturday night despite being only 10 miles away from the stadium. At some point soon, though, I plan to put up a video of my tour around Turner Field. It's a nice ballpark. And not very crowded.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The game started when?

Baseball is a 9 inning game unless you're the Tigers. Then 5 is enough. Detroit has scored 37 runs from the 5th through 9th frames. That's an average of 4.62 runs an outing. That's higher than the AL average of 4.4 runs for an entire game, and better or equal to the output of nine other AL squads per entire contest. The 37 runs for the Tigs represent 80 percent of their total runs. Detroit's OPS for innings 7-9 is 1.063. The OPS vs. foes' relievers is 1.006.

This could mean several things: 1) The Tigers are not good against quality starting pitching; 2) The Tigers have a potent offense that can explode at any time; 3) The KC and Cleveland bullpens stink.

Chances are it is some combination of the above. The next several weeks will provide more answers, or more questions. Either way, we'll be watching.

Nostalgus Interruptis

My nephew took me to the O's game last night for Matt Wieters T-shirt night. Brian Matusz took the hill for Baltimore and for 7 1/3 innings he was masterful, twirling a 2 hitter (both were bunt singles), striking out 8 and generally mystifying Rays hitters.

I even went so far as to advise my nephew to appreciate the pitching performance he was witnessing and remarked on how I use to see this kind of thing twice a week back in the McGregor/Flanagan days.

But, with one out in the 8th, the Rays abruptly solved the rookie and strung together 4 consecutive hits, 3 of them on first pitches, plating one run and loading the bases. Two more hits off of Orioles relief pitching turned a 3-0 O's lead into a 5-3 deficit. The O's eventually lost 8-6 in 10 innings.

Oh well, at least I got to see Julio Lugo on the O's bench:-)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Swing batter

The Rangers lead the AL in swinging at pitches, offering at 48.5% while the Blue Jays are second at 46.9. Texas also leads in swinging at pitches outside the strike zone, at 30.5 percent. The Jays, by comparison, are at 27.1, which is 8th. The Yankees and Tigers have swung at the fewest pitches outside the strike zone. The Yankees and Tigers are 1st and 3rd, respectively, in contact percentage. The Rangers are worst.

The Yankees, Blue Jays and Tigers have the best walk rates. The Jays have the worst strikeout rate; the Rangers are sixth.

Texas is eighth in runs. The Tigers are second and Yankees are fourth. The Jays are fifth. The Blue Jays are doing it with power (1st in HR and ISO) while the Tigers are doing it by getting on base (1st in OBP).

Monday, April 12, 2010

Special start

The Tigers are off to their best start since 2006, when they went to the World Series. Even though it is very early, it's hard not to look at the first week and feel like this could be the start of a special season. Granted, Detroit went 5-1 against KC and Cleveland -- not the toughest competition around. But it's the way the Tigs have gone about their biz that gives one hope.

A look at some odds and ends.

Detroit has scored 35 runs this year, with 30 coming from the fifth inning on (and 20 from the seventh inning on). And this with Johnny Damon not hitting.

Magglio and Miguel are raking. The reborn M&M Boys.

The Tigers got good starts from Dontrelle Willis and Jeremy Bonderman. Even two less-than-stellar starts from Justin Verlander resulted in victories, including yesterday's wild 9-8 triumph. The bullpen has been solid, posting a 2.35 ERA.

Detroit took advantage of errors and failures by their foes. Meanwhile, the Tigers turned 10 double plays and commited only two errors.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Walking away happy

Dontrelle Willis is unbeaten in games in which he walks the first batter on four pitches.

The Tigers salvaged a 2-1 start to the campaign in KC thanks to Johnny Damon beginning the eighth inning with a walk after he should've been called out on strikes, Magglio Ordonez reaching on an error and Miguel Cabrera going yard. Take what they give ya.

Detroit has scored 17 runs in 3 games. Only 1 of those runs crossed the plate prior to the sixth inning.

Orioles Go to the Matusz

The Orioles notched their first victory of the season by a score of 5-4 last night in Tampa Bay. Rookie Brian Matusz got the win in a 5 inning effort. Going back to last season, it is Matusz' 4th win in his last 4 starts.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Young, but old

According to STATS, the Tigers have MLB's youngest rotation: Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Dontrelle Willis, Rick Porcello and Jeremy Bonderman. The average age is 25.6. In spite of the youthful appearance, the group has combined for 565 games in the bigs.

To the nines

Detroit tied last night's game against KC with Miguel Cabrera's HR in the top of the ninth, took a 2-1 lead in the top of the 11th and then lost 3-2. Last year, the Tigers won 6 games when they trailed entering the ninth inning and their .080 win percentage in those situations was nearly double the MLB average.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Blazing Burrell

Pat Burrell scored from second on a single to left last night. Not the type of thing you expect to see from a plodder like Burrell (who ran through the third-base coach's stop sign). It looked like Matt Wieters could have made a play, but was unable to corral the throw and make the tag. This is forgivable, figuring Wieters was either caught by surprise and/or laughing.

But it seems Burrell is more likely to gamble on the bases when he's on second. Last year, he went from second to home on singles 3 times in 9 chances (and was never thrown out). He went from first to third on singles just 4 times in 21 opportunities. In 2008, he scored from second on a single on 8 of 13 chances (never out again) while going first to third only 2 times in 23 chances.

So beware when Burrell is on second.


Chris Young pitched the Padres to victory last night while teammate Will Venable homered. Princeton boys. Go figure. Young was the first person to be named first-team All-Ivy League in both baseball and basketball. Venable was the second.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

HR in first AB

Jason Heyward homered in his first career AB yesterday for the Braves. A sure sign of greatness? Perhaps not. Of the 104 players to homer in their first trip to the plate, only Gary Gaetti and Carlos Lee hit more than 300 lifetime. Only four others -- Jermaine Dye, Will Clark, Tim Wallach and Earl Averill -- surpassed 200. Interestingly, 3 of the last 4 St. Louis Cardinals to do it were pitchers: Mark Worrell in 2008, Adam Wainwright in 2006 and Gene Stechschulte in 2001. Other pitchers I noticed on the list were Guillermo Mota, Dustin Hermanson, Dave Eiland, Jose Sosa, John Montefusco, Hoyt Wilhelm, Dan Bankhead, and Don Rose. I think only Averill and Wilhelm are in the Hall of Fame.

Golly Polly

Placido Polanco did something yesterday that had not been accomplished since Calvin Pickering pulled it off in 2004. And believe it or not, it was a good accomplishment. Read all about Polanco and the Phils, from Jayson Stark.

Go fourth

The Tigers outlasted Zack Greinke and took advantage of KC's bullpen for an 8-4 win yesterday. Many bright spots for Detroit, from Scott Sizemore to Austin Jackson to Johnny Damon to Joel Zumaya. Also nice to see the Tigs win a game when giving up 4 runs. Last year, Detroit was 4-7 in such games (a .364 win percentage; the MLB average was .477). If the Tigers went 5-6 a year ago, they would have been in the playoffs.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Grandy goes yard

Curtis Granderson started the Yankees stage of his career with a home run last night in Boston. This might be a surprise because Granderson came into the game with a .143 BA and 8 Ks in 14 PAs against Red Sox starter Josh Beckett.

But the homer should not have been a surprise because Granderson loves the first week of April and/or not wasting time to get his first dinger.

Last year, in the Tigers' first game of the season, Granderson went yard vs. Roy Halladay. In both 2007 and 2006, he homered in Detroit's second game of the campaign. In 2008, Granderson was hurt at the beginning of the season and didn't make his debut until April 23. He homered on April 24. In 2005, Granderson got called up from the minors on July 22. He homered on July 23.

So excluding the 9 games Granderson played in the bigs in 2004, he has never gone more than two games without a homer to begin his season.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Day and night

The Tigers start the season in KC and it is no easy task in Monday's opener. Detroit faces reigning Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke. Of course, the Tigs send Justin Verlander, who was third in the Cy Young vote, to the mound. As Royals skipper Trey Hillman said, "I'm sure that the national media will be focused on other games than the Kansas City Royals and the Detroit Tigers, but I'm not sure you can come up with any better Opening Day matchup than Greinke versus Verlander. It's going to be exciting."

Greinke was 3-1 with an ERA of 1.00 last year against Detroit. He is 11-5 in his career against the Tigers.

Verlander faced KC three times and limited the Royals to a .597 OPS. He was 2-1 with a 1.89 ERA. Lifetime he is 9-2 with a 2.32 ERA vs. KC.

Here was something I thought was odd: Verlander was 8-3 with a 2.23 ERA in day games last year, compared to 11-6 with a 4.22 ERA in night games. His BABIP in day games was .251 and at night was .366. That's a big difference, so he was a little lucky in daytime and unlucky at night, perhaps? In his career, he is 25-11 with a 3.28 ERA in daylight and 40-32 with a 4.26 ERA under the lights. The BABIP split is .270/.316. Wonder if it has something to do with shadows, even though his strikeout rate is a little lower in the daytime.

Greinke's ERA last year was 3.39 in day games and 1.74 at night. His strikeout and walk rates were virtually identical in each. The example for Greinke is a small sample. Verlander, though, seems to have had this odd split throughout his career.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Mike Cuellar passes away

I was too young to appreciate Mike Cuellar in his prime, but I loved having him on my APBA team.

April show-ers

The Tigers have got to show up strong in April. Detroit opens the season with 9 games total against KC and Cleveland (6 at Comerica) before going on an 11-game, 11-day road trip to Seattle, Los Angeles and Texas. Then the Tigs return home for 3 against Minnesota and 3 against the Angeles (that spill into May). Then it's 3 at the Twins.

So, after getting two days off in their first 9 games, Detroit plays 20 straight days, with 14 on the road. The Tigers then get an off day and then go 17 in a row against Cleveland, the Yankees, Boston, White Sox, Oakland and Dodgers. Cleveland, Oakland and LA are on the road.

The Tigers have got to take advantage of KC and Cleveland right off the bat. After those 9 games, Detroit does not play a team with a 2009 losing record until seeing Cleveland again on May 7. In fact, of the Tigs' next 39 games after the KC-Cleveland opening stretch, 32 are against teams with winning records from last year.

If Detroit fails to start quickly, it could -- as Yogi observed -- get late early.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Tigers on the mound

There is no doubt pitching is the area that could most impact Detroit, either positively or negatively. The Tigers had 12 pitchers make starts last season. Of that group, only two -- Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello -- remain that made more than seven. In fact, only 5 of the 12 remain on the roster. Edwin Jackson, Armando Galarraga, Jarrod Washburn, Luke French, Alfredo Figaro and Nate Robertson are gone and Zach Miner is injured.

Verlander was 19-9 last year and posted a 3.45 ERA. According to the Bill James Gold Mine, Verlander threw 300 more pitches than any other MLB pitcher last season and more than any AL pitcher in the last 10 years. Verlander has always been a workhorse. Hopefully it doesn't start to catch up to him.

Porcello was 14-9 with a 3.96 ERA. The Tigers need him to repeat that performance. He will need to improve his strikeout rate a bit (4.69/9) and he benefited a little from a .281 BABIP last season. He was helped by a 54% groundball rate and hurt by a 14% FB/HR rate.

Max Scherzer was acquired for Edwin Jackson. Scherzer might not put up the same numbers as Jackson last year (13-9, 3.62 ERA), but he could. He was 9-11 with a 4.12 ERA for Arizona, but goes to a better pitchers' park and will be backed by a slightly better defense. Expect to see his .323 BABIP drop. Put up a 9.19 K/9 last year.

Here's where it gets dicey. Jeremy Bonderman, who made one start last year, and Dontrelle Willis, who made seven largely unsuccessful starts, complete the rotation. Bonderman has made just 13 starts since 2007, when he was 11-9 with a 5.01 ERA. Willis has one win and an 8.27 ERA in his two seasons (14 starts) with the Tigers.

Given that Porcello and Scherzer are still young, and Bonderman and Willis have not been effective for at least two years, this could be interesting or ugly. If there's a bright spot, it's the fact Bonderman and Willis will be filling spots that were unproductive last season, so they won't have to be great to make an improvement. Of course, they'll still need to be better than they've been. We'll try to forget they're making $22.5 million between them.

Fernando Rodney is gone as the closer. Jose Valverde takes over. This is probably an upgrade, but relievers are tough to figure. There should be depth in the pen with Ryan Perry and a healthy Joel Zumaya. Eddie Bonine is working on his knuckleball and will work in long relief and can be a spot starter. Fu-Ti Ni and Phil Coke will handle the lefties.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

My new favorite Oriole

Julio Lugo is the newest Oriole. He's owed 9 million dollars for this season. And the Red Sox have to pay all of it. $9M of Red Sox money will, most days, be sitting on the Orioles bench. I love this guy!

Tigers at the plate

The Tigers have finalized their 25-man roster, with utilityman Don Kelly getting the final spot over outfielder Clete Thomas. Here is a brief look at the offense, by position.

C-Gerald Laird gets the bulk of the work thanks to his defense. He threw out 42% of opposing baserunners last season, which help makes up for his lack of offense. We documented how he tends to collapse with increased work, so he will need to be more consistent. His OPS+ was 64 last year. The backup is youngster Alex Avila, who showed good pop last season, with an OPS of .965 in 72 PAs. He threw out 4 of 15 baserunners, a decent 27%. Avila bats from the left side, Laird from the right, so some type of platoon might develop.

1B-Miguel Cabrera. He has posted OPS of .887 in 2008 and .942 in 2009 and both seem disappointing, which speaks to his potential greatness. In 2008, he needed time to adjust to his new surroundings. In 2009, a drunken final weekend spoiled what might have been an MVP-worthy campaign. Sober and happy this year, Cabrera could flirt with the Triple Crown if he gets some help from healthy Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen and Brandon Inge. Don Kelly is the backup.

2B-Scott Sizemore steps in for Placido Polanco, but will hit toward the bottom of the lineup rather than the No. 2 spot Polanco held. There were rumors (denied) that the Tigers were seeking an upgrade at second when they traded Nate Robertson. Sizemore is returning from a broken ankle suffered in the Arizona Fall League, but has hit well at every level. Expect early struggles, but improved production as the season goes on. Ramon Santiago is the backup. The Tigers like Santiago's glove, which depending on the ratings looks like it is somewhere between average to good, but his bat is lacking (82 OPS+ in 2009). I'd rather they kept Thomas and let Ryan Raburn or Kelly handle the backup duties at 2B and SS.

SS-Adam Everett is here. If being a constantly good hitter is admirable, so then might be being a consistently bad hitter. If this is so, Everett is the Pujols of the putrid. His OPS+ over the past four seasons, starting with 2006, are 64, 55, 62, 59. If nothing else, he should be admired for his ability to remain in the big leagues. His glove keeps him around, but there are concerns it is slipping to the point of no longer equalizing his value.

3B-Brandon Inge played 161 games last year on bad knees and his offense and defense suffered as the season progressed. His OPS+ was 132 in the first half and 45 in the second. It is not likely Inge will play a whole season at his 2009 first-half rate, but if healthy there is no reason not to expect him to be league average with the stick. He has a lifetime OPS of .743 as a third baseman and .590 as a catcher. With his defense, league-average batting is perfectly fine.

LF-Johnny Damon posted an OPS+ of 126 last year with the Yankees. Even if you want to discount his Yankee Stadium-based power surge in 2009, Damon has posted OPS+ average of 114 over the last six seasons. The Tigers' left fielders were OPS+ 97 last year, 94 in 2008 and 67 in 2007, so this is an unquestionable upgrade at the plate. Defensively, the ratings are inconsistent, but taken as a whole would make him around neutral.

CF-Austin Jackson was received from the Yankees (along with LHP Phil Coke) in return for Curtis Granderson. No one expects Jackson to possess Grandy's power, at least not at this point in his career, but they do figure he can play All-Star caliber defense. He has hit a ton this spring, going .356/.441/.576. It would be unreasonable to expect that type of performance to continue when it counts, but his 9 BBs to 8 Ks is a nice sign, as well as his 4 doubles and 3 triples -- which might indicate gap power that could play well in Comerica.

RF-Magglio Ordonez struggled much of last season and then finished with a flourish. His OPS the first half was .673 and for the second it was .978. He is batting .356 and slugging .556 in spring training, which is a good sign. A full productive season from Maggs might be the most important factor in getting this offense going. With the exception of ...

DH-Carlos Guillen, who saw his OPS+ in 2009 fall below league average for the first time since 2002. Guillen's five previous seasons in Detroit produced an average OPS+ of 127. He has not hit well this spring, batting .222/.295/.352. Age and injuries could be catching up with Guillen. His career OPS as a DH is only .711, which does not bode well, either. Guillen is penciled into the No. 5 spot in the order, but if Inge and Sizemore both hit and Guillen does not, it would not be inconceivable to see Guillen drop. But Jim Leyland does not seem the type to make such moves hastily with veteran players.