Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Gone again

On the night the Tigers won in Minnesota to take over first place, Joel Zumaya was lost for the season. Casey Fien rejoins the club.

Zumaya's star-crossed career started in 2006, when he was a key component in the Tigers reaching the World Series (6-3, 1.94 ERA). After three seasons in which he was limited to a total of 88 IP, he was seemingly back to the old Zumaya this year. His 38 IP were his most since 2006 and he was 2-1 with a 2.58 ERA.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Boesch spice

I have to admit, I keep waiting for Brennan Boesch to return to earth. But with each passing day, I wonder if he will. Boesch did go 0-for-3 last night, but reached base via walk. In 49 career games, he's gone hitless in 13. He's walked in 6 of those hitless games, so he's been off base just 7 times so far. He's got a 4-hit game, two 3-hit games, and 21 total multi-hit games.

Boesch went 2-for-4 in his debut April 23. Two days later, he went 0-for-4 and saw his average drop to .250. In his next appearance, he got two hits to push the average up to .313. Since then, there have been only 4 days in which his average dipped below .300, and it's not been below .318 since May 9.

In 66 PAs in Triple-A this year, Boesch batted .379/.455/.621. In 2009, in 571 PAs in Double-A, he batted .275/.318/.510. Maybe his maturation as a hitter will mean his performance so for in Detroit isn't a fluke.

Of course, he will not sustain his current .337/.389/.624 pace. His balls-in-play average is .373, which is high considering a 15% line-drive rate. His 19% rate of HR on flyballs is a little high, but given he's 6-foot-6, 210 pounds, it might be about what to expect. He can mash.

And he will take his hacks. Boesch swings at 59% of pitches, which is 14% more than average. He swings at 45% of pitches out of the strike zone (28% is average) but swings and misses just 11% of the time (8% is average). He's been destroying fastballs and crushing sliders and curves. Across the big leagues, only Robinson Cano is handling those 3 pitches with the type of success Boesch is enjoying.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Moyer's Hall pass?

There is growing talk about Jamie Moyer and the Hall of Fame. I think what Moyer is doing at his age is remarkable, but I'm not sure, even with his 266-and-counting wins, that he is Hall worthy. Moyer is only 65 games above .500 lifetime and his 162-game average for his career is 14-10 with a 4.22 ERA. His ERA has topped 5 seven times in his career.

Looking at ERA+ as a gauge, Moyer is at 105 for his career, which is just above average. His best mark was 132, which is not even among the top 500 seasons in history. He's had 12 seasons with an ERA+ above 100 and 12 seasons (including this year) below 100. The only categories in which he's ever been a league-leader is earned runs allowed (114 in 1987) and HRs (44 in 2004). He never won a Cy Young Award, finishing as high as fourth once and fifth once.

One the plus side, Moyer is one of only a handful of active pitchers with multiple 20-win seasons (two). From 1997-2003, he was very good, going 113-53 with a 3.75 ERA (and ERA+ of 120). If he gets Hall consideration, it's as a lifetime achievement award.

Going back to ERA+, Bert Blyleven had six seasons better than Moyer's best and 17 seasons of 107 or better. Curt Schilling had 14 seasons of 119 or better and 5 seasons of 150 or better. Jack Morris is among the most comparable to Moyer. Morris also has a career mark of 105, a career best of 133 and 11 seasons of 100 or better.

A career ERA+ of 105 puts Moyer in a tie for 475th place in history. He is tied for 32nd place among active pitchers.

Monday, June 21, 2010


The Baltimore Orioles are 4-11 since the firing of Dave Trembley as manager and 19-50 overall. They are on pace to win 44 games this season, which would prevent them from being the worst team in Major League history (in the modern era).

But, they have to stay hot.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Joe Blah-ton

Joe Blanton is 1-5 with a 7.28 ERA in 8 starts this year. Without looking at stats, I thought it would be a poor first-pitch strike percentage that was Joe's undoing. I was wrong. Joe's at 61%, which is better than league average and the best mark of his career.

Blanton struck out 7.5/9 IP last year. This season, he's at 5/9 IP, which is around his norm for every year other than 2009. His walk rate is down from 2.7 to 2.1/9 IP comparing last year to this season.

The line drive rate for Blanton is 15% so his .332 BABIP is high. His flyball rate is up, which has led to an increase in homers. He is stranding 59% of baserunners, which is down from 79% last year and well below his norm of around 68% in all other years.

It seems many things might have gone right for Blanton in 2009 and nothing is going right this year. Here is what I believe can explain part of the trouble:

Blanton's getting a career-best 32% swing rate at pitches outside the strike zone. However, batters are making contact on 78% of swings at pitches outside the zone -- which is 11% higher than average. These swings are resulting in lucky hits, as evidenced by his .332 BABIP, and also reducing his chances for strikeouts.

Last year, batters made contact on only 59% of swings at pitches outside the strike zone.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Justin time

Maybe the Tigers need to convince Justin Verlander that the season begins on April 27.

Since April 27, Verlander is 6-3 with a 2.39 ERA. He's got 55 K in 64 IP and foes are batting a paltry .179/.253/.262 (.515 OPS). In his first 4 starts of the season, Verlander was 1-1 with a 6.95 ERA. Opponents had an .809 OPS.

Last year, Verlander was 0-2 with an ERA of 9.00 and OPS allowed of .909 in his first four starts. Then -- beginning again on April 27 -- went 19-7 with a 2.92 ERA and .637 OPS the rest of the season.

In his career, Verlander is 7-11 with a 5.06 ERA in March/April. He has a winning record in all other months.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Bottoms up

Carlos Guillen returned to Detroit's lineup on May 28 and since then the Tigers have batted .271/.328/.444 and averaged 4.1 runs. When Guillen was out of the lineup, Detroit batted .265/.329/.411 and averaged 4.5 runs in 30 games.

This might not seem a big difference, but the Tigers' offense is better. First, some of the work done since Guillen returned was done without Magglio Ordonez in the lineup and with Austin Jackson struggling at the top.

Guillen's return and move to second base allowed the Tigers to replace a struggling bat in Scott Sizemore and drop Brandon Inge from the No. 6 spot to No. 7. Brennan Boesch's hitting has been a plus as well as the fact Detroit released Adam Everett and started giving more time to Alex Avila at catcher over Gerald Laird. Avila has started to hit and the bottom of the order, which was a black hole, has turned more of a shade of gray.

Inge is batting .357/.390/.464 since Guillen's return. Avila is hitting .370/.433/.481. Boesch, who was hitting well in Guillen's absence, has gone .340/.431/.660 with Guillen hitting behind him. His OBP was .358 and his slugging was .608 without Guillen.

Hopefully, Guillen stays healthy and we can see if these numbers are a trend rather than simply a blip of good hitting.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Alexander the (briefly) great

A while back I saw a note that Austin Jackson was only the second Tiger in history to collect at least one hit in 36 of his first 43 career games. The other was Dale (Moose) Alexander in 1929. Who was Alexander, I wondered. A briefly incredible and yet now-forgotten player, it turned out.

Alexander, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound first baseman, was considered by some as a right-handed hitting Babe Ruth. He led the AL with 215 hits in 1929 as a rookie, batting .343-25-137. His 137 RBI were a rookie record at the time. Baseball Digest in 1975 named Alexander the all-time rookie first baseman. Alexander led the AL in hitting (.367) in 1932 and finished his brief 5-year career with a .331 BA. His lifetime OPS was .891 and his career OPS+ was 128.

His career was cut short by a leg injury made worse by some kind of heat therapy gone awry.

Monday, June 07, 2010

I've Got Nothing Else

The Orioles defeated the Red Sox by a score of 4-3 yesterday. The O's now stand at 5-4 on the season versus the Red Sox.

Julio Lugo, however, was in the starting lineup.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Perfectly memorable

As disappointed as I was by Armando Galarraga being robbed of a perfect game, it has turned out to be something not likely to be forgotten. Galarraga will probably be more highly regarded and remembered for his handling of the situation than if he'd actually gotten the perfecto. That might not be any consolation for Galarraga, but maybe it is. All I know is we gained a lot of respect and admiration for Galarraga the man rather than simply Galarraga the pitcher. Jim Leyland is pretty cool, too.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Perfectly bad

I've never seen a 28-batter perfect game. Until tonight. Oh, Armando you deserved so much better.