Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tigers Have Potent Potential in Line Up

The Detroit Tigers are making a run at the division title in 2011. They added a big bat in Victor Martinez, re-signed Magglio Ordonez and have quite a collection of Venezuelan players. Here is a look at a possible line up for the upcoming season:

  1. Austin Jackson (CF) - Jackson had a good rookie season though many experts doubt he can sustain his success due to a high average of his batted ball finding a spot where nobody could catch them. Part of his success is due to an excellent 24%+ line drive percentage. When he makes contact, he makes good contact. He needs to cut down on his strikeouts and his minor league totals suggest he will. He also needs to walk more as his .345 On Base Percentage is a too low for a lead off guy. Stole 24 bases with a very high percentage. Had a terrific season in the field. (3.8 WAR in 2010). Bill James sees him progressing. Fans (102) sees him regressing.
  2. Ryan Raburn (LF) - Raburn gained more playing time last year and responded with a good season. He looks to get even more playing time this year and Bill James projects him to get even better. He has a rather low line drive percentage (17.5%) but his fly balls carry and he should improve upon his 15 homers of last year. Like Jackson, he needs better plate discipline with fewer strikeouts and more walks. (2.1 WAR in 2010).
  3. Miguel Cabrera (1B) - What can you say that hasn't been said about Cabrera? According to most, he changed his life in 2010 and had a monster year. No reason that shouldn't continue the next two or three years. (6.2 WAR in 2010).
  4. Victor Martinez (DH) - Martinez can flat out hit. He should catch his fair share of games, but his value is as a designated hitter. This Fan is somewhat concerned that his Line Drive Percentage was the lowest of his career last year despite continuing to hit .300. He should be good for 20 homers, 80 RBI, .300 batting average, .360 OBP. The usual for him with perhaps a cut in home run rate due to his new home field. But Martinez will hit. (4.0 WAR in 2010).
  5. Magglio Ordonez (RF) - The two questions with Ordonez are his health and how well he can still play the field. If he is healthy, he'll hit. If the Tigers want him to hit every day, he may have to take his share of games at DH pushing Martinez to catching. Few people realize how good a hitter Ordonez has been over his career. He'll hit .300 with 15 to 20 homers and have an OBP of .370. His presence in the line up protects Cabrera from getting pitched around every at bat. Ordonez has seen his ground ball rate rise as he gets older, but his line drive percentage has remained steady and very good. (2.5 WAR in 2010 in only 84 games).
  6. Carlos Guillen (2B) - It sure is hard to know what Guillen will do from year to year. His last three years have been abbreviated though he often shows flashes of good offense. Playing him at second has always sounded iffy, but that's where he is. Bill James thinks he will  get 470 at bats, bat in the .270s with a .350+ OBP. That sounds terribly optimistic. Guillen is 35 now. But this line up spot is fraught with doubt.
  7. Jhonny Peralta (SS) - What sours the Fan on the Tigers is their infield. Guillen, Peralta and Inge? At least Guillen can hit a little bit if he is healthy and Inge can field. But Peralta offers little on offense and less on defense. Yeah, he can hit in the .260s with an OBP in the .330s and that would be pretty good for shortstops in the majors these days, but his defense at short is just not where it needs to be. But the Tigers like him just like they like Inge. So go figure. (1.4 WAR in 2010).
  8. Brandon Inge (3B) - Inge rhymes with fringe. The Tigers like him and re-signed him, but he offers nothing on offense though he is still a very capable third baseman. Adrian Beltre really would have made this team, but Beltre wouldn't like hitting in the Tigers' home park. And so the Tigers are stuck with Inge. At least he will help on defense. Bill James offers no hope for improvement by Inge and predicts he will regress even further. (2.2 2010 WAR).
  9. Catcher or DH? - This depends on if Martinez is mostly a DH. If the Tigers need to rely on another catcher, this is likely where he will bat. The choices aren't inspiring. Alex Avila can improve into a serviceable big league hitter. His BABIP was only .278 showing room for better luck to raise his low batting average. His line drive percentage is healthy and over 20%, so that is promising at least.
One through six in the Tigers' pending line up is as potent as anyone in the division. After that, there is a problem. If Avila comes on (of the bottom three, he's the only unknown quantity and can improve), that will help, but Inge and Peralta are what they are. If the Tigers are going to do some damage, they better do it from the top six in the batting order.

This conclusion leads this Fan to think that the Tigers are just short of consideration for being the favorites for the division. The off season isn't over though and the Tigers are said to still be in the game. Perhaps they can address these weaknesses in time for the season.

No comments: