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?
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.
Justin Verlander would probably not have gotten the “Loss” last night if Miguel Cabrera didn’t go 0-for-4 with 2 strikeouts. Detroit Tigers pitchers have no responsibility for their team’s lineup. Verlander doesn’t influence Cabrera’s batting performance against Red Sox pitchers.
Verlander pitched great against Red Sox batters and John Lackey pitched great against Tigers batters. The two pitchers did not face each other.
Justin Verlander proved last night that he has still got it. The media may have you think that he had lost it this year. That he was finished as an ace. After tossing eight shutout innings against the Oakland Athletics in the deciding game of the ALDS they will now tell you that he is back. The problem with this narrative is that he never went anywhere.
Verlander finished with the fourth most strikeouts in the American League, one ahead of Felix Hernandez.
No one is writing that any of those four elite pitchers have taken a step back or are finished as an ace. Verlander showed us last night that we shouldn’t even think of writing him off yet.
When it comes to starting pitching there is no team in the 2013 playoffs with a better staff than the Detroit Tigers. In fact Jim Leyland is sending to the hill the best starting rotation since the great Leo Mazzone/Bobby Cox teams of the 1990’s in Atlanta.
The last team with four starters with 4+ WAR is the 1997 Atlanta Braves. That was the Tom Glavine/Greg Maddux/John Smoltz and Denny Neagle version of the Braves. Each of those four guys logged 230 innings for Bobby Cox that season.
Back to the Tigers, Rick Porcello is their fifth starter and he has posted 3 WAR over 29 starts. This is equal to the value provided this season by C.J. Wilson, Ervin Santana and Andy Pettitte. That is some awesome fifth starter (or long reliever in the playoffs).
To summarize the Detroit Tigers have arguably three number one starters plus a two and a three. That is a stacked rotation.