Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus has made an interesting lineup switch recently. Over the last two games against the Angels Rajai Davis has batted leadoff while Austin Jackson is hitting sixth. Davis has now ledoff in half of Detroit’s games this season.
Each player has been exclusively in the AL for the last five seasons, here are their on-base percentages over this time:
Davis – .309 OBP
Jackson – .344 OBP
Lineup construction is a low-risk, low-reward activity. Give your highest on-base guys the most chances over the course of 162 games and you will gain an extra win or two. Give more at-bats to poor run producers and you loose a couple games you should have won.
The difference between the two Tigers equates to more than just a rounding error. Austin Jackson clearly deserves more at-bats than Davis. Is Brad Ausmus aware of this?
Before 1996 there was never an MLB season which featured more than four starting pitchers who averaged at least one strikeout per inning. In 1965 and 1986 there were four starters who posted at least 9 Ks/game. The ’60′s were led by Sandy Koufax and Sam McDowell while the 80′s featured fire-ballers Nolan Ryan and Bobby Witt.
As the strikeout began to rise during the steroid era we saw eight high K starters (9+ SO/9 innings) in 1998 and ten in 2002. From ’02-’04 alone there were 29 individual high K starting pitcher seasons. Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Jason Schmidt, Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez averaged at least one strikeout/inning in all three seasons.
There was a slight dip in high K starters during the next four seasons before an explosion in 2009. An all-time high of thirteen high K starters appeared in ’09, a feat matched in 2010. This record was quickly broken in 2012 with fifteen and subsequently tied last year.
Five pitchers recorded at least 9 strikeouts/game in each of the last two seasons, they are: Yu Darvish, Chris Sale, Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer amd Jeff Samardzija. How many of these will repeat the feat in 2014?
*Thank you to Baseball-Reference.com for all this awesome data.
A new addition to our “It’s Early” post is the Minnesota Twins slugger Chris Colabello. The new version of Kent Hrbek is leading the American League in doubles and RBI. To boot he is batting .350 through 16 games.
Perhaps you haven’t heard of Mr. Colabello. That’s because he played seven years of baseball in the Canadian-American Association. The Twins signed him out of Indy ball at age 28 and sent him to double-A. He moved up to triple-A last year and raked. In 2013 he led the International League in slugging percentage while cranking 24 home runs.
Again, it’s early and this is a very small sample size. Twins fans and Colabello should enjoy the ride.
Despite the Mariners loss to the Rangers Wednesday night Felix Hernandez hurled a gem. Seven innings, one walk, one run allowed and a two-to-one groundball-flyball rate. He also whiffed nine Rangers which brings his career total to 1,742.
A great night’s work despite the loss.
Welcome back Kouz!
Here’s ten facts that prove it’s really early in the baseball season:
- Chase Utley is batting .500
- Brian Dozier is leading the AL in home runs
- Alexei Ramirez is hitting .420
- Ron Roenicke manages the winningest team in MLB
- Charlie Blackmon is batting .488
- Juan Uribe leads the NL in doubles
- Alberto Callaspo is the Oakland A’s best hitter
- Prince Fielder is slugging below .200
- Allen Craig is slugging .122
- Carlos Villanueva‘s ERA is over 11
After averaging 36 HR’s and 39 doubles in two short seasons in the minor leagues the Seattle Mariners have inserted Mike Zunino into their starting lineup.
Take a look at this long bomb he hit last night.
Now that the Detroit Tigers have locked up future hall-of-famer Miguel Cabrera through age forty we are hearing a lot of backlash against the contract. The criticism is fair and relevant but I want to peek at the upside.
In the past six decades I found a dozen productive power hitters at age 40 or older. One occurred just last year in Seattle. Raul Ibanez hit 29 home runs at age 41. This just happened!
Will Miguel Cabrera be a better hitter at age 40 than Raul Ibanez? If so, then this deal doesn’t look that bad.
The worst of this lot was Ibanez and he went for 20 doubles, 29 HR’s and 123 OPS+ at age 41. I think the Tigers would be pleased if Miggy had an Ibanez-like year in 2023.
Sports Illustrated baseball writer Tom Verducci was interviewed today on The Dan Patrick Show. When Dan asked about hall-of-fame voting (specifically comparing the baseball vs. football HOF process) Verducci replied with:
“I don’t know that anyone has been voted info the Hall-of-Fame that doesn’t deserve to be in there, as far as the baseball writers go.”
I would say that Tom Verducci’s statement is mostly correct. Of course this depends upon how big you like your hall. A “Big Hall” guy would include the writers’ recent inductees Jim Rice, Kirby Puckett, Tony Perez, Bruce Sutter and Catfish Hunter. If you are a “Small Hall” guy then these five inductions from the past three decades conflict with Verducci’s statement.
If Tom is a “Big Hall” guy then his statement is accurate and he would support the hall cases of Tim Raines, Kenny Lofton, Tommy John, Curt Schilling, Billy Wagner, Lou Whitaker, Larry Walker, Trevor Hoffman, Fred McGriff, Jeff Kent and Alan Trammell. Consistency would merit eliminating the cap on the number of players that the writers could vote for leading to a much larger Hall.