Monday, September 30, 2013

A Few End 'o' Season Tigers Notes

 Pic Via The Freep
The regular season has ended and despite the best efforts of our Detroit Tigers to blow it, the managed to hold on and win the AL Central. Before we move onto the first round of the playoffs against our old friends in Oakland, I thought I would take a moment to review a few things from the 2013 season.

Swami Rogo, The Seer of Seers

Before the season started, Chris Iott of mLive included me in a predictions article. How did I do? Meh.

I picked the Tigers to win 95 games. Needing to win two of three from the worst team in the National League, I thought I had that in the bag. But never underestimate the (lack of) power of a series of LOLeyland lineups. Don Kelly leading off…what happened to upholding the integrity of the game?

My AL Central standings prediction was Detroit, Kansas City, Chicago, Cleveland, and then Minnesota in last. Hey, at least I got the Detroit part right. No one expected the Indians to luck into 92 wins. And I guess I’m in the habit of expecting the White Sox to cheat their way to respectability. At least I didn’t pick the Royals to win the division like that brain-dead hack Morosi did.

My preseason AL division winners were Tampa, Detroit, and the Angels with Texas and Toronto winning the Wild Cards. I wasn’t the only one to buy into the hype of the Angels and Blue Jays. And Boston and Cleveland were both surprises. As for Oakland, I should have learned a long time ago not to count out Billy Beane. The dude is a genius. Until the playoffs start…(hubris).

As for the NL, my preseason division winners were Washington, Cincinnati, and San Francisco, with the Dodgers and Braves winning the Wild Cards. I got none of the division winners correct, but I still managed to pick three of the five playoff teams. I’m counting this as a win since I haven’t watched an NL game in probably a decade. I’d rather watch Craig Monroe mutter and stutter incoherent statements on Tigers Live than sit through a Padres/Phillies game.

My preseason World Series pick was Detroit over Cincinnati. STILL ALIVE, BABY!

At least I admit when I’m wrong. Though it RARELY happens.

Fun Random Stats from 2013

*The Tigers won the AL Central by ONE stinking game over the Indians. Detroit was 15-4 against the Tribe this year. Imagine if Cleveland were able to have cut that to 13-6. Twitter would have imploded. It almost would have been worth it.

*Here was Detroit’s record versus all of this year’s playoff teams in the regular season:

Oakland: 3-4
Boston: 4-3
Tampa: 3-3
Texas: 3-4
Cleveland: 15-4
Atlanta: 3-0
Pittsburgh: 1-3

I can’t decide if I want to root for the Indians to make the ALCS with Detroit or for them to get crushed in their Wild Card play-in. As long as Sad Cleveland Fan gets Sadder, I’m a happy camper.

*According to Fangraphs, Justin Verlander finished SEVENTH of all MLB pitchers in WAR at 5.2. Only Kershaw, Scherzer, Sanchez, Wainwright, Harvey, and Hernandez were better. Are crazy people still wanting to move him to the bullpen? I quit paying attention to Brian Kenny a while ago.

In the past two days (and probably because I don’t own any clothes that don’t have a “D” on them), three different strangers have approached me with comments about the Tigers chances in the postseason. All three have said some form of “if Verlander ever gets his shit together”. My only conclusion is that JV has spoiled this ungrateful fanbase over the past few years. It’s either that, or the majority of our fanbase doesn’t watch baseball and only listens to sports talk radio.

Then again, baseball-reference has his WAR as only 4.6, well out of the top ten. WAR would be taken a lot more seriously by the skeptics if the saber folks could agree on how to calculate it. Regardless, while Verlander wasn’t his usual SuperJustin self this season, I don’t feel he was nearly as bad as so many people have exaggerated it as. Hell, he didn’t even allow a run in 8 of his 34 starts this year, including his last two. Cut the guy some slack.

*How about some random fun with YOUR HERO Don Kelly’s stats?
-The supposed “25th man” led all Tigers reserves with 112 games played and 251 plate appearances. This is not a “25th man”. So please stop calling him that.

-He hit .222/.309/.343 with 6 HR, 23 RBI, and an OPS+ of 76. He somehow went 5 for 7 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI against Justin Masterson this year. Without this miracle occurring, his average drops to .206.

-In September, he hit .154/.195/.231 in 41 plate appearances. I’d poke even more fun at that, but Matt Tuiasosopo went 0-20 in September. Why are these guys getting so many at bats down the stretch? Why didn’t Castellanos get more of an opportunity? Or the Canadian hitting machine known as JORDAN LENNERTON?

-As you can see, Don Kelly sucks hamster balls at hitting. Yet in his 52 starts this year (!), he batted 6th or higher 23 times. He batted 8th or 9th only 20 of 52 times. WHY? Kelly started a game once each batting first, third, and fifth. This is insanity on a World Series caliber ballclub.

-Leyland used Kelly as a pinch hitter SIXTEEN TIMES in 2013. He was 0-15 with one walk.

This is why I get so angry about Don Kelly. He is what he is. But Leyland uses him in ways he shouldn’t. Donnie DUZZITALL does very little well. And it’s giving me brain cancer. Especially when Tigers fans jump up and clap their hands like dim-witted five year olds watching Scooby Doo reruns whenever he makes an appearance in a ballgame. It’s like a majority of the fanbase doesn’t care about winning.

Before the season started, someone told me Kelly would hit close to .300 if he was given an everyday job. A week ago, this same person made the comment that DK is the best pinch hitter on the team. The point is, crazy people like to talk to me and I don’t think I can deal with it much longer without resorting to violence on an epic scale.

*One last thing before I stop boring you. Using Fangraphs, here are the Tigers’ top fifteen in WAR for the year.

1. Cabrera: 7.6
2. Scherzer: 6.4
3. Sanchez: 6.2
4. Verlander: 5.2
5. Fister: 4.5
6. Peralta: 3.6
7. Porcello: 3.2
8. Jackson: 3.1
9. Infante: 3.1
10. Hunter: 2.5
11. Fielder: 2.2
12. Smyly: 1.9
13. Dirks: 1.7
14. Benoit: 1.6
15. Martinez: 0.9

I was surprised to see Hunter so low. The same applies to Victor, despite him not playing defense.

Finally, Ryan Raburn had a WAR of 2.5 this year in Cleveland playing in a part-time role. That’s better than Prince Fielder. And who was the only Tiger fan that ever believed in Raburn? THIS GUY.

I told you I’m usually right.

ALDS Prediction: Tigers in four. I’ll have a SUPER FUN preview up later this week.

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