Look: I am eager to learn stuff I don't know--which requires actively courting and posting smart disagreement.

But as you will understand, I don't like to post things that mischaracterize and are aimed to mislead.

-- Brad Delong

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Everything that appears on this blog is the copyrighted property of somebody. Often, but not always, that somebody is me. For things that are not mine, I either have obtained permission, or claim fair use. Feel free to quote me, but attribute, please. My photos and poetry are dear to my heart, and may not be used without permission. Ditto, my other intellectual property, such as charts and graphs. I'm probably willing to share. Let's talk. Violators will be damned for all eternity to the circle of hell populated by Rosanne Barr, Mrs Miller [look her up], and trombonists who are unable play in tune. You cannot possibly imagine the agony. If you have a question, email me: jazzbumpa@gmail.com. I'll answer when I feel like it. Cheers!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Assessing the Tigers first 9 Games

Nine games in, the Tigers are 6-3, a percentage that would project to 108 wins over the season.  Nobody expects that kind of success, but we can hope that this team contends.  The bright spots have been 7 quality starts in 9 attempts, and offensive contributions from the back of the line up.  The let downs have been relief pitching - AGAIN, as always - and the lack of offense from the big guns.

Here are the batting stats.


Player

RBI AVG OBP SLG OPS
Avila, A

1 .600 .667 1.000 1.667
Romine, A

4 .375 .375 .750 1.125
Collins, T

2 .350 .381 .500 0.881
Kinsler, I

5 .280 .455 .560 1.015
Jones, J

4 .238 .360 .524 0.884
Castellanos, N

4 .222 .282 .500 0.782
Martinez, V

3 .207 .294 .207 0.501
Upton, J

3 .182 .357 .364 0.721
Iglesias, J

4 .179 .179 .357 0.536
McCann, J

5 .167 .286 .542 0.827
Cabrera, M

1 .133 .278 .233 0.511
Mahtook, M

1 .071 .188 .143 0.330
Machado, D

0 .000 .000 .000 0.000

When the RBI leaders are the lead off hitter and a guy with a .167 average, but you're still winning, something strange is going on.  The real hero of the young season has been Andrew Romine, who can also play any infield or outfield position adequately.

Scoring has been well distributed across the game, with 12 runs coming in the first 3 innings, 16 in the middle third, and 9 in the final 3.  In five of their home games, they have not had to bat in the 9th inning.

The team batting average is a sorry .218.

So how are they winning?

1) Hitting has been clutch.  Note the low averages of the guys with 3 or 4 RBI's. This is not something you can count on in the long run.

2) Defense has also been good, with the occasional stellar play.

3) Starting pitching has been from very good to outstanding in 7 of the 9 games.  One loss came in Fulmer's excellent no-decision first start, when the bull pen allowed 5 runs in the 8th inning.  Zimmerman and Boyd each have one good and one bad start, accounting for the two blow-out losses.

4) They were lucky to catch the Red Sox when they were dealing with illness in the club house,  and some of their better players didn't make the trip to Detroit.

On the other hand, relief pitching has been wildly erratic.  There have been some good outings, but Sanchez, in long relief, has been horrible, and Rondon has been sent back down to the minors.

Here are the pitching stats.


Player

W L ERA AVG WHIP
Verlander, J

1 0 1.35 0.188 0.980
Fulmer, M

1 0 2.25 0.190 0.920
Zimmermann, J

1 1 5.06 0.216 1.310
Boyd, M

1 1 5.40 0.194 1.440
Norris, D

0 0 4.26 0.292 1.580
Sanchez, A

0 0 10.50 0.379 2.500
Wilson, J

1 0 0.00 0.000 0.430
Rodriguez, F

1 0 4.15 0.350 1.620
Wilson, A

0 0 4.50 0.214 1.250
Ryan, K

0 0 2.45 0.300 1.640
Greene, S

0 0 2.70 0.231 1.500
Rondon, B

0 1 40.50 0.500 5.250
Hardy, B

0 0 0.00 0.000 0.000
Jimenez, J

0 0 0.00 0.000 0.000

Frankie has 3 saves and a vulture win in 4 save attempts.  There is a lot of luck here, since he has not been very good. If he doesn't improve, the back end will be a liability, and that, all by itself, could sink the season.

Overall assessment and expectations -- The starting pitching will be fine, and usually will give the team a chance to win. Relief pitching is a huge question mark, and needs to get a lot better if this team is to contend.  They do have a pair of 2-1 wins where the bull pen was good, so there is hope.

Defense has been adequate or better, and hasn't been responsible for many runs scored.

Team offense is in the middle third or worse among the 30 MLB teams.  The current run differential vs the opposition is -6.  Their 37 runs scored have them tied for 19th out of 30.  Cabrera, Victor and J-UP will start producing, and J. D. will be back soon.  If and when that all starts clicking, the offense will be formidable.

Next up - three games in Cleveland.  This will be a test

Hope springs eternal - at least in the Spring.

Data source





Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Opening Day

Some thoughts on the Tigers as they start their rain delayed oping day game in Chigago vs the Sox.

Last season, Cleveland dominated the Tigers, amassing a 14-4 record.

[A postponed game was not made up at the end of the season, since it would not affect the final standings. So both teams played 161 rather than 162 games.]  

This is why they won the pennant. During the Tigers string of pennants that ended in 2014, they dominated the 2nd place team every year, so this has been typical in that division.
Here are the results for the two teams last year.


2016

                                       W             L %
Tigers 86 75 0.534
vs CLE 4 14 0.222




less CLE 82 61 0.573




CLE 94 67 0.584
vs DET 14 4 0.778




less DET 80 63 0.559

Except for the games against each other, the Tigers had a better record.

Tigers should be better this year than last. They've unloaded some liabilities from the pitching staff; Zimmerman and Greene should be healthy; Norris and Boyd should keep improving, and Fulmer and J.V. should be solid.

On the offensive side, Castellanos should have the break out year that got cut short by injury in 2016; Upton should be the real Upton for a full season; J.D. is the real deal, though he'll miss the first month; and Kinsler is top notch. If Miggy and Victor stay healthy, this will be a formidable line up.


Lots of shoulds and ifs here. But if the Tigers perform otherwise the same as last year, and can go even 9-10 against CLE this year, it's game on! Ceteris paribus, that gives the Tigers 91 wins to CLE's 90!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

A Superbowl Sunday Meditation On Sports Fandom.

The mere act of being a sports fan - until recent years this was the 2nd most geographically divisive topic in America, since the South is still pining over Sherman’s march to the sea.   I can scarcely doubt that had I been born anywhere near Boston, I would be [shudder] a Patriots fan.  But, thank whatever gods control these things, I hale from the otherwise benighted Midwest, specifically Toledo - that overgrown village nestled up against Ohio’s Michigan border, where the muddy Maumee slogs its torpid way into the western corner of algae-choked Lake Erie.

This is actually a great place to be a sports fan, if you’re in to divisiveness and controversy.  It’s close enough to Both Detroit and Cleveland to have fans of both city’s Major League teams: Lions vs Browns; Tigers vs Indians; Pistons vs Cavs.  And, of course, the biggest rivalry of all: Buckeyes vs Wolverines.  Then, there’s the occasional lovable odd ball who follows a Cincinnati team.  This occurs even in my own family.   I don’t recall ever meeting a fan of any Chicago team.

Still, it’s kind of easy to see what is the most powerful factor in making one a fan of some given sports team - mere geographic parochialism.

Perhaps a more interesting topic is what makes one hate a certain team.  Many people feel that if you love team A, then you must hate their biggest rival.  Frex, many Michigan fans want OSU to lose every game - simply because of the rivalry, and vice-versa.  I think that is petty.  My son-in-law - an avid Wolverine fan - wants OSU to win every preceding game, so that when the 2 teams meet in late November, everything will be on the line when the Wolverines [one would hope] triumph.  That’s the kind of camp I’m in.

So, who do I hate, and why?  There are a few reasons - hatred of a particular key player, the coach, or the owner seem to predominate.  This is often irrational, but that ends up not mattering very much.  However, there can be some more or less rational basis for it, often relating to bad behaviors.  I have hated the Fildelfia Phlyers because of their cheating ways back in the early 70’s.  It seemed as if they always scored the winning goal with a man in the crease, mugging the goalie - and getting away with it!  They were a genuinely great team, but everyone on it - even Bobby Clarke - was a damned goon. That, right there is a good, solid reason, seasoned with a heavy dollop of resentment for the hash realities of an unfair world.  Carrying it on for over 4 decades is way over the top, but there you have it.  When it comes to teams, I am a grudge holder.  But in this instance the passion has gone out of it for me - maybe through the passage of time, or the fact that they aren’t very good any more, or that my youngest grandson is a fan of theirs.   At any rate, the whining, cheating, cry-baby Crosby-Malkin edition of the Penguins is now in top spot.  Sad, because I liked them in the Lemieux years.

My next favorite hate is the Dallas Cowboys.  I have no particular animus toward any of their players - with only a couple of historical exceptions.  But their conceit of calling themselves “America’s Team” is an affront this mid-westerner refuses to tolerate.  Beyond that, it's the terminally loathsome, hyper-Republican, meddling owner Jerry Jones who inspires my everlasting enmity.  I never hated the Cowboys under coach Landry.

So, for me, it’s either blatant [and unfortunately successful] cheating, or a personal reaction to an obnoxious prominent face of the team.

What does it for you?