Well thanks to the fine folks at UPS, I now have my very own copy of the Bill James Handbook 2006. In my first few hours of reading, I have learned a great deal about the Tigers and their performance in 2005. Since I type slow and kind of decide what I want to say as I slog through the stats, this is going to be a multipart entry that will probably take me a while to complete fully. At any rate, lets get to it!The Detroit outfield left a lot to be desired defensively
Ok, so this shouldn't have been that much of a shocker, but seeing the numbers on paper made me do a double take. Neither Rondell White nor Magglio Ordonez have ever really been known for their fielding prowess, and their Range Factors of 2.00 (-1 FRAA
) and 1.93 (-4 FRAA
) respectively in 2005 put them at or near the bottom of the league at the two positions. While Ordonez played in 82 games, White only managed 65. Though I'm not really sure how many games and/or opportunities it takes for these stats to mean a great deal, I wouldn't go far enough to say that these results were skewed due to the time each player missed with injuries. Ordonez is sitting a -4 FRAA for his career. White is slightly more respectable with 8 FRAA for his career.
Craig Monroe faired a little better, but not much. He posted a RF of 2.47 (0 FRAA
) during 33 games in center and 1.88 (-1 FRAA) in 69 games in left. He also amassed 85 games in right, with 1.94 RF and -5 FRAA to show for it. The numbers in left and center are in almost complete symmetry with his results in both 2004 and 2003, but -5 FRAA represents a drop of 9 runs from Monroe's career best mark during 51 games in 2004. To be honest, these numbers come as a bit of a surprise to me. For whatever reason I had it in my head that Craig was having a good year in the field. I can't really pinpoint what made me think this, but obviously whatever it was is wrong.
Anyone who has watched even one game played at Comerica Park can tell you that the outfield is huge! Since we know that pitchers have no control over batted ball types on balls in play, it stands to reason that in order for the Tigers to be competitive, they need strong outfield defense. The good news is, in Nook Logan and Curtis Granderson they got just that in 2005. Nook posted the third highest RF in the majors among regular starters at 2.93 (7 FRAA
) while playing in 123 games. This represents an improvement of 7 fielding runs over Nook's 2004 campaign, which was only 41 games. Granderson, in his first season of somewhat meaningful playing time, posted a RF of 3.40 (6 FRAA
). Though his statistics most likely would have regressed towards the mean given a larger number of games played, I find his 2005 season to be very encouraging.
In order for the Tigers to excel in 2006 and beyond, they need strong defensive performances from Granderson and Logan. The Tigers had the second fewest strikeouts in the American League last year, and the 2006 staff is shaping up to be quite similar. Unless our K/G magically bumps up to 9.5 from the 5.5 it was at last year (which I would freaking love), our outfield needs to improve. With White gone and Ordonez permanently gimpy, the Tigers should try to get Granderson, Monroe and Logan as many innings in the field as possible. To maximize their defensive efficiency.
Obviously, this isn't a decision to be made on defensive merits alone. Ordonez needs to be in the lineup as often as possible to help fuel the Tigers offense, and Logan needs to learn how to take a walk. Putting Magglio at DH knocks the somewhat productive Dmitri Young out of the lineup, which is not ideal. The good news is that the Tigers do have a decent amount of flexibility. On days where Chris Shelton needs a break, Dmitri can play first and Shelton can either DH with Mags rotating back to RF to give one of the outfielders a break or sit out completely. There are other possible scenarios for all this to play out, but I will have to wait until later to consider them.now playing: Clem Snide - Jews for Jesus Blues