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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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Tigers and the Slough of Despond - 2015 Edition

Latest rumor I've heard is the Tigers dumping Brad at the end of the season, and hiring Ron Gardenhire, an over the hill manager with a mediocre track record.   Early in his managing career at Minnesota, Gardenhire did well with a low payroll team.  But from 2011 through '14, his best record was 70-92 (.432)

I suppose a disappointing season might generate a knee jerk reaction. If it were to be this, I see very little merit in the action.

Let's take a look at the Tigers season and see if we can identify problems.

Tigers have given up 5.06 runs per game. That's a run differential of -102, as of today. Only Colorado and Philadelphia are worse. They've actually exceeded their Pythagorean win expectation by 5 games. By the BaseRuns metric, they're exactly where they should be.

It comes down to pitching, not Brad.

One criticism is he leaves his pitchers in too long.

Brad's dilemma is - if you take a starter out, who are you going to replace him with? Hardy (57 Innings Pitched, 1.26 WHIP) and Wilson (65.1, 1.06) are the only decent relievers in the stable, and they can't go out every day. Next best is Verhagen (15.1, 1.37) but his sample size is small. League Average WHIP is 1.3 to 1.4. By this metric, everybody else is from below average to Awful. Also, per WHIP, the only decent starters are JV and Norris, but Norris is on the DL.

It's pitching, not Brad.

In games decided by 1 or 2 runs, the Tigers are 31-31. In games decided by 4 runs, they're 8-11. In games decided by 5 or more runs, they're 17-27. I would expect that if managing is gong to make a difference, it would be in close games. They're dead even there. The story of this season is giving up tons of runs, and getting blown out.

It's pitching, not Brad.

Tigers are tied for the highest batting avg in MLB with KC, at .271; 4th in OBP at .326; 4th in slugging at .427; but 11th in runs scored, 159 behind No 1 Toronto. Baseball statisticians do not believe that clutch hitting is a thing. All this hitting with a lower than expected scoring rate actually comes down to bad luck.

I don't see any rational reason for dumping Brad.

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