Sparky Anderson loved to platoon. And left field was no exception in 1984. After coming off of back to back quality seasons in 1982 and 1983, Larry Herndon lost time to the recently acquired Ruppert Jones, who actually outplayed him in the time he got.
Herndon, as you’ll see, had a pretty mediocre season. He only played in 125 games, and although he did hit .280, it was really without a lot of punch. Let’s take a look at the numbers:
Runs Created 54
Batting Runs Above Replacement 17
Fielding Runs Above Replacement 12
Equalized Average .266
Wins Above Replacement Player 3.2
The OPS+ of 104 and the equalized average of .266 tell it all. To take things one step further, his Batting Runs Above Average was 3, and his Fielding Runs Above Average was 0. It’s unanimous. Larry Herndon had a pretty average season, and doesn’t match up to George Foster.
Score Card 1975 Reds 5, 1984 Tigers 1
Hammerin’ Hank had the best season a Tiger has ever had by anyone not name Ty Cobb. In 1938, he hit a team record 58 homeruns, which up until the late 1990’s, was good for fourth best all time. He drove in 146 runs, and led the league in walks with 119.
Greenberg’s 1935 numbers were also phenomonal. He won the MVP, hit 36 homeruns, and he had 170 RBIs and 389 total bases. All of these marks led the league.
His career numbers are equally impressive. He walked more times then he struck out (852 vs. 844), and has a career .412 OBP. His career 1.017 career OPS is the seventh best all time. Probably the only thing keeping him from being among the best ever was his missing all but 12 games in 1936 because of injury, and missing almost four years because of World War II. In all, he only played nine seasons where he played more then 100 games, but still managed to rack up 331 homeruns and 1,276 RBIs.
It looks like changes are a foot at Comerica Park. You can check out the Free Press article here.
I’m not sure what the advantage is of moving the pens over to left field. I know they need to do something with the dead space they created when they brought in the walls, but I guess I’ll need to see it to really opine. The article is pretty vague, and I’m not sure if this means the fences are being moved in more, or even if they’ll be moved back. If it creates more bleachers, I’m all for it, because I think they need more cheap seats.
My biggest gripe with Comerica Park has always been how the grounds crew comes out from behind home plate, creating this big gap in the seats. They basically took away several prime seats by doing this.
Other then that, not a whole lot is happening. I wish everyone a safe and happy holidays.
Leave it up to Tram. Old reliable. He had a career OPS+ of only 110, and he had just as many seasons below 100 as he did above. But over almost 2,300 career games, he posted a batting average of .285, and an OBP of .352.
1983 was Alan Trammell’s breakout season. In fact it was almost a carbon copy of what he would do in 1984. The five time All Star finished in the top five in hitting in four different seasons, and finished in the top 10 of the MVP voting on three different occasions, including a ninth place finish in 1984. He never won the award, but probably should have in 1987, when he lost out to George Bell.
Let’s take a look at the numbers:
Runs Created 98
Batting Runs Above Replacement 46
Fielding Runs Above Replacement 36
Equalized Average .297
Wins Above Replacement Player 9.0
So, the shutout ends. I actually thought Dave Concepcion would give Trammell a run, because he had quite a good career, but 1975 wasn’t one of his better seasons. Outside of fielding, Trammell is the better player. And even comparing these two seasons, that differential wasn’t very big.
Scorecard 1975 Reds 4, 1984 Tigers 1
Jilly Dybka has put together a collection of baseball poetry. There’s a few in there about the Tigers, and it’s worth checking out.
The Tigers are certainly attempting to make a big splash with their free agent acquisitions! I like Percival, because he has playoff experience and has proven capable of being a consistently capable closer. He already seems to assuming a role as a recruiter, too, making a pitch for Troy Glaus to consider the Tigers. Brian provides a lot of excellent proof as to why signing Percival may blow-up in their face. The fact that it is hard to envision the Tigers bullpen without Urbina and Percival together makes it troubling. How ready is Urbina going to be perform at his usual standards after all he has been through in the last year? Where will the Tigers be if Percival misses 2 months? Here are some more vitals in regards to Percival and Urbina from 2004:
Player/ K/9/ BB/9/ H/9/ WHIP/ HR/9
Urbina 9.33/ 5.33/ 6.33/ 1.30/ 1.16
Percival 5.98/ 3.44/ 7.79/ 1.25/ 1.28
Player/ W-L/ ERA/ G/ GF/ IP/ BF/RG(batters faced)
Urbina 4-6/ 4.50/ 54/ 46/ 54.0/ 4.33
Percival 2-3/ 2.90/ 52/ 48/ 49.2/4.06
Player/ SV/ BS/ SV%/ oppBA/ OppOPS/ G/F(ground ball/fly ball outs)
Urbina 21/ 3/ 88%/ .194/ .660/ 0.47/
Percival 33/ 5/ 87%/ .230/ .682/ 0.53/
I guess it is necessary to takes some risks along the way if you are attempting to become a contender. In my eyes, the Tigers are still a year or two away so spending $10+ million/year for the back end of the bullpen may not be wise. Still, you have to give Dombrowski and the Ilitch’s credit for stepping out there and going to toe-to-toe with the big boys in free agency.
The Tigers made a splash this afternoon, inking former Angels closer Troy Percival to a two year deal, paying him $12 million. A couple of years ago, Troy was probably the best closer in the American League, if not all of baseball (Think pre-Gagne and Smoltz). The operative part of that sentence is the phrase “a couple of years ago.” Since then, he’s steadily declined, and although he’s arguably our best arm in the pen, he has a degenerative hip problem (Thank you Pat Caputo. I heard this on his radio show this evening) that could rear it’s ugly head at any time.
On the face of things, he had a solid 2004 season. He was 2-3, with a 2.90 ERA, and he saved 33 games. But it’s not so much his 2004 numbers that bother me as much as how they compare to the past couple. Let’s take a look at a few things. First off, strikeouts/9 innings
That’s some serious decline. What about WHIP? Probably a more telling stat then ERA for a closer.
Again, a decline. Finally, let’s look at Percival’s “Stuff”
That’s not good. He’s gone from a top line dominating closer to what could be considered a less then average thrower.
As a basis of comparison, here were some other 2004 Tiger reliver’s “Stuff”
Ugueth Urbina 8
Jamie Walker 8
Estaban Yan 3
Al Levine -18
Danny Patterson -15
So Percival was not nearly as bad as Danny Patterson or Al Levine, but not nearly as good Urbina, Walker, or even Yan.
I know this contrary to what a lot of the press is saying, but this deal only makes sense if we keep Urbina and use him as a setup man/spot closer. Percival is at an age and condition where he can’t neccesarily close back to back games, so we need Urbina to spot him. We turn Urbina into the pen work horse, and we pick our spots when we use Percival.
In order to warrant the $6 million a year, we need at least comparable numbers to 2003, if not somewhere between 2002 and 2003. But even then, this is a guy who hasn’t thrown more then 58 innings since 1998. I don’t know if the team can warrant paying $6 million for 50 innings of work. I think we could have done better had we found two decent relievers for $3 million a piece, or used the $6 million as a down payment on a top line starter.
Well, the Tigers made their first move of the offseason. They signed Troy Percival to a two year, $12 million contract. And I don’t like it. Check back later for the analysis.
It is quite interesting to watch this offseason begin to unfold. The two players the Tigers have met with or will be meeting with are major surprises to me. When I thought of potential candidates to rebuild the franchise with, the names Troy Percival and Jeff Kent were certainly off the radar. Not that each player does not posess a certain amount of intrigue as valuable players, I guess I had hoped the Tigers would be looking at players on the south side of 35. Percival and Urbina could make a nice end of the bullpen. Just as easily, Urbina could become trade bait.
The decision to meet with Jeff Kent is puzzling. He mentioned during the season that he had been considering retirement. So rather than retiring, he visits a team who MIGHT be on the cusp of becoming a contender and have one of the best pitcher’s parks in all of baseball. That coupled with his character issues, poor fielding, and the perception that his best performances have been inflated in lineups where he has been surrounded by big-time hitters. As an everyday DH, Kent may be suitable, but I thought the Tigers already posessed one of them in Dmitri Young. Equally perplexing would be the decision to move the solid Omar Infante to a new position. I really would like for the Tigers to acquire a Third Basemen as opposed to trying to develop one on the spot ala Eric Munson and Brandon Inge (although Inge did a yeoman job!). I know Infante did an okay job in his limited time in Center Field but again why fix that which is not broken?
The Tigers named has also been mentioned in connection with the likes of Carl Pavano and Troy Glaus. The ESPN Top 50 free agent mentioned that they thought that Matt Clement would be signed by the Tigers. I think that ESPN’s experts assumed this because Dombrowski had already acquired Clement while general manager for the Florida Marlins.
Howard Johnson was one of those Tigers who got away. The switch hitting rookie had a solid campaign his first season, hitting twelve homeruns and driving in fifty in 355 at bats. But for whatever reason, he never was on Sparky’s good side and during the offseason, he was traded to the Mets for Walt Terrell, a solid left handed starter.
HoJo then went on to have three 30/30 seasons, and he finished in the top 10 of the MVP voting three times for the Mets. In 1991, he led the league in homeruns (38) and RBIs (117) and was seventh in OPS (.877). The Tigers on the other hand, went through Tom Brookens (a solid player and a fan favorite, but hardly an all star as he hit .246 for his career), Darnell Coles (had a solid 1986, but nothing much after that), Rick Schu (.214 as a starter in 1989), and Tony Phillips (utility man who played more at third then anywhere else) during Johnson’s peak years. It wasn’t until Travis Fryman in 1991 when the Tigers developed a regular, everyday third basemen.
But enough about my gripes. Here’s the the numbers on HoJo’s rookie season:
Runs Created 45
Batting Runs Above Replacement 13
Fielding Runs Above Replacement 6
Equalized Average .260
Wins Above Replacement Player 2.1
Scorecard – 1975 Reds 4, 1984 Tigers 0
This is it. The MVP voting pretty much signifies the end of the season. It’s our final look back at the 2004 season before the Hot Stove League really gets going.
Barry Bonds probably won’t sweep the first place ballots in the National League, but he should. It’s really hard to pick which of the last four seasons were Bond’s best (not too mention the best of all time). He won his second batting title in three years, and set single season records in walks (232), OBP (.609), and OPS (1.422). Throw in 45 homeruns in only 373 at bats, and it makes for another historic season.
The American League is a little less clear. Vladimir Guerrero had a fine season, and now that he’s out from under Barry’s wing in the NL, could walk away with his first MVP. But I’m going to make a pitch for Johan Santana. I normally wouldn’t throw a pitcher into the mix, but let’s take a look.
Forget about the stats for a second. Taking away his final start where he only pitched five innings, the Twins won 19 of Santana’s 21 starts from June 9th forward. The two losses were a 2-0 loss to the Tigers and a 2-1 loss to the White Sox. So better put, Santana put the Twins in a position to win each of those twenty one victories.
I think this will be close one though. I can see four or five players getting first place votes, none of which could go to Santana. I don’t think Johan will even finish in the top five, but he warrants being there.
This is the first in a series of biographies (or in this case, links to biographies) of the major participants of the Detroit Tigers’ first championship. I’m putting these out to get everyone familiar with the players so the 1935 diary will make a little more sense.
Mickey Cochrane was the best catcher in all of baseball prior to World War II. He not only played and managed the pennant winning 1934 team (arguably the best Tiger team ever), but he also played and managed the 1935 team. Prior to coming to Detroit, he won two World Series and another pennant under Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics.
Mickey had a career .320 average, and a career .419 OBP. The most mind boggling stat is his amazing strikeout to walk ratio. He walked 857 times, and struck out only 217 times. He won the AL MVP in 1928 and 1934, and finished in the top 10 four other times.
I’m going to make this one brief, because I want to also point you to a special project SABR is working on. The Baseball Biography Project is a grand plan to document each and every baseball players biography. The ones that are complete are simply great reading, and highly recommend you take some time to check out the site.
One of the best baseball blogs out there, Redbird Nation, is closing up shop. I wish Brian Gunn the best of luck.
I purchased the e-book version of the Hardball Times Baseball Annual today. I haven’t had a chance to read through the whole, but in skimming through the content, baseball fans will be very happy with this purchase. There’s literally something for everyone. If you’re a stathead, there’s tons of stats. You’ll also find some great articles, including one on how people will look back at the 2004 season fifty years from now.
These guys work their butt off during the season putting up free content, so this is a great way to support the site. Plus you get a great baseball resource. Not to mention most of the main stream publications don’t get their magazines or books out until Feb. This is a great way to get your baseball fix in early November.
With the decision to pick up the option on Ugueth Urbina’s contract this weekend, the Tigers targeted priority to bolster their pitching staff is becoming a little clearer. Earlier in the offseason, they also resigned Jamie Walker. The bullpen has often been mentioned as the area where the team likely would place most of it’s attention for improvement. It seems likely that Al Levine will not be back and it is questionable that Detroit’s other Stevie Y, Esteban Yan, will be return. Where it becomes muddled is what the designated roles for Nate Robertson, Jason Johnson, and Gary Knotts will be? The Tigers will also have to look at the continuing development of Franklyn German, Roberto Novoa, and Steve Colyer and the potential roles they may have on the club. They will also have to plan for the impending return from arm surgery of Fernando Rodney. I would be quite surprised if John Ennis or Craig Dingman have many more opportunities to pitch in Detroit, unless the team suffers from more injuries among their pitchers.
In my eyes, I would re-sign the relatively cheap Esteban Yan. My next move would be to relegate either Jason Johnson or Nate Robertson to the pen. Robertson’s strike out numbers (7.09 K/9) and make-up seems to translate into him having a better chance of performing well in this role. In regards to Johnson, with his stamina issues and overall poor pitching, he will remain an enigma (and unfortunately in the starting rotation) for the duration of the offseason. Presuming they do not trade Mike Maroth, the team has 4 starters (2 Left-handers and 2 Right-Handers). The bullpen, with Nate Robertson’s inclusion (however ridiculous it may seem) and Esteban Yan’s re-signing have 5 of it’s six spots filled. It would seem likely then, that Dombrowski would be searching for a #1 or #2 starter and a primary set-up man. Here are some potential relievers:
Player/ APP/ IP/ W/L/ SV/ BS/ ERA/
Steve Reed 65/ 66.0/ 3-8/ 0/ 4/ 3.68/
Jim Mecir 65/ 47.2/ 0-5/ 2/ 5/ 3.83/
A. Alfonseca 79/ 73.2/ 6-4/ 0/ 1/ 2.57/
Dan Miceli 74/ 77.2/ 6-6/ 2/ 6/ 3.59/
Todd Jones 78/ 82.1/ 11-5/ 2/ 6/ 4.15/
Antonio Osuna 31/ 36.2/ 2-1/ 0/ 2/ 2.45/
Dave Burba 47/ 77.0/ 6-9/ 2/ 3/ 4.21/
Terry Adams 61/ 70.0/ 6-4/ 3/ 3/ 4.76/
K/9/ BB/9/ H/9/ HR/9/ WHIP/ OppOPS/
Steve Reed 5.18/ 2.32/ 9.82/ 0.95/ 1.35/ .756/
Jim Mecir 9.25/ 3.59/ 8.50/ 0.95/ 1.34/ .678/
Alfonseca 5.50/ 3.42/ 8.67/ 0.61/ 1.34/ .671/
Dan Miceli 9.62/ 3.13/ 8.58/ 1.17/ 1.30/ .706/
Todd Jones 6.45/ 3.61/ 9.18/ 0.77/ 1.42/ .742/
Antonio Osuna8.84/ 2.7/ 7.85/ 0.75/ 1.17/ .653/
Dave Burba 5.84/3.04/ 8.18/ 0.82/ 1.25/ .675/
Terry Adams 7.20/ 3.6/ 10.8/ 1.29/ 1.6/ .821/
I have included these pitchers because have all served this role in the past and all within the realm of affordability for the Tigers. I selected players who could handle pitching with runners on base (low HR/9 or high number of ground ball to fly ball outs(G/F)) because in a lot of cases they will be coming into situations with runners on base. The Tiger starters have relatively high WHIP’s and none with the possible exception of Bonderman are “power pitchers” who rack up a lot of strikeouts, so relievers inherit a lot of base runners. I wonder if Miceli and Jones’ former Tiger experience would disqualify them from this list? I think the year that Antonio Alfonseca had last season warrants serious consideration as a potential acquisition. He has some closing experience, which would also seem to be a necessary pre-requisite to being signed (in case of injury or poor performance by U.U. Urbina). I also would derive a great deal of enjoyment from the signing of Alfonseca because I would never grow tired of discussions about the extra appendages on his hands!
In regards to starters, I think it would be beneficial for the Tigers to pursue a number one starter. Assuming they would unable to afford Pedro Martinez or an exciting young pitcher like Carl Pavano, and the general lack of quality power pitchers (Dombrowski preferred starters of choice) I think the Tigers would be best served by starters who also get a lot of ground ball outs. I think this is why there has been so much speculation locally and nationally about the return to Michigan of Derek Lowe. It would be appear to be a natural fit, except for the fact that his postseason performance will probably increase his desirability (and price tag $) for teams who believe they will be playoff contenders. Lowe had a relatively poor regular season but I believe his past performance still may drive him out of the Tigers price range.
Here are Lowe’s stats and a few others who I believe warrant consideration:
Player/ W-L/ QS/ QS%/ ERA/ CG/ IP/
Lowe 14-12 12/ 36/ 5.42/ 0/ 182.2/
Radke 11-8/ 24/ 71/ 3.48/ 1/ 219.2/
(Radke could also be out of the team’s price range)
C.Lidle 12-12/ 17/ 50/ 5.37/ 5/ 211.1/
M.Morris 15-10/ 16/ 50/ 4.72/ 3/ 202.0/
J.Lieber 14-8/ 16/ 59/ 4.33/ 0/ 176.2/
P.Byrd 8-7/ 11/ 58/ 3.99/ 0/ 114.1/
K/9/ BB/9/ H/9/ HR/9 WHIP/ oppBA/ oppOPS/
Lowe 5.17/ 3.5/ 11.04/ 0.74/ 1.62/ .299/ .790/
Radke 5.86/ 1.07/ 9.38/ 0.94/ 1.16/ .267/ .684/
Lidle 5.37/ 2.6/ 9.54/ 1.15/ 1.35/ .273/ .777/
Morris 5.84/ 2.5/ 9.13/ 1.56/ 1.29/ .266/ .776/
Lieber 5.2/ 0.92/ 11.00/ 1.02/ 1.32/ .301/ .759/
Byrd 6.22/ 1.5/ 9.68/ 1.42/ 1.24/ .270/ .749/
I would personally prefer Radke, but if it came down to it I think Matt Morris or Jon Lieber would be wise additions to the club. I think Matt Morris’s HR/9 would come down in Comerica. At any rate, between relievers and starters it has become essential that they also add a very good fielding Third basemen (Brandon Inge?) and hope that Carlos Guillen recovers his range and fielding ability at Shortstop.
Lou Whitaker was always my favorite Tiger growing up. I think it was the way everyone chanted “Lou” at the games. Little did I know that this was common practice for any player with the first name Lou. Lou Piniella apparantly got the chant, as does Lou Merloni (at least he did when he played for the Red Sox).
Whitaker is listed as the thirteenth best second basemen of all time by Bill James in his Historical Baseball Abstract. He was a great hitter with two strikes on him, and ended his career with more walks then strikeouts. He followed up what was probably his best season in 1983 with a solid campaign in 1984. He won the gold glove despite what the numbers show over at Baseball Prospectus, and played in the All Star Game in 1984.
Let’s take a look at the numbers:
Home Runs 13
Runs Created 81
Batting Runs Above Replacement 30
Fielding Runs Above Replacement 19
Equalized Average .276
Wins Above Replacement Player 5.4
A fine season, but compared to the MVP of the league, and according to Bill James, the 15th best player of all time at any position, he just doesn’t quite stack up.
Scorecare 1975 Reds 3, 1984 Tigers 0
You can read Blade’s analysis of Joe Morgan at Red’s Cutting Edge.
The Tigers picked up Ugueth Urbina’s $4 million option yesterday. I have mixed feelings about this, because I don’t think he’s worth that much. A 4.50 ERA for a closer is high. Very high actually. The reason I have mixed feelings is because I know without a doubt that Urbina is our best arm in the pen, so we basically had to sign him. So Walker and Urbina at a combined $5 million is something I can live with. I just hope Urbina can improve on a mediocre season last year.
There is some good news about Urbina’s mother. Last I heard, they had confirmed she’s still alive. Outside of that, I’m unsure of the progress that’s been made.
It looks like there’s a lot of trouble with the Expos move to Washington. Since joining SABR and helping out with the Business of Baseball committee’s weblog, I’ve been digesting all that’s gone on, and if this kind of thing interests you, I urge you to visit that blog to read up on what’s been happening. If you enjoy politics along with baseball, you’ll find it fascinating.
Prior to the 1984 season, the Tigers made what, at the time, was the biggest free agent pickup in the history of the team. Signing Darrell Evans was a big deal, similar to the Tiger’s signing Pudge in 2004 was a big deal. And in 1984, Darrell Evans was a big bust. I won’t go into too much detail on him because he mostly played DH, but his contribution was minimal. Of course in 1985 he’d hit 40 homeruns, but his 28 extra base hits in 1984 left Tiger’s fans wondering if, at 37, he was over the hill.
The other deal the Tigers made was a trade with the Phillies. The Tigers sent John Wockenfuss and Glenn Wilson to the Phillies for Willie Hernandez and first basemen Dave Bergman. Bergman got the bulk of the starts at first base in 1984, and was platooned there for the rest of the 1980s.
He only played in 131 games during the season, and here’s what his numbers looked like in 1984:
Runs Created 39
Batting Runs Above Replacement 15
Fielding Runs Above Replacement 15
Equalized Average .276
Wins Above Replacement Player 3.3
The 113 OPS+ isn’t anything to complain about, but the rest of his numbers just weren’t there. This one was pretty much a clean sweep, as Tony Perez and the Reds win another one.
Score – 1975 Reds 2, 1984 Tigers 0
Who should the Tigers go after in this offseason? I’m going to exclude some of the no brainers. We all know how well Carlos Beltran would fit on this team, and we know how much of an impact Pedro Martinez would make at the top of the rotation. However, I don’t think we’ll end up getting either of those guys, so I’m going to discuss a few players who not only would fill a hole, but might also come at a bargain.
Matt Morris – Despite winning fifteen games, the right hander posted his first sub 100 ERA+ of his career. He not only topped a 4.00 ERA for the first time, but he blew the mark out of the water. His 1.290 WHIP was respectable, but the 35 homeruns he gave up weighed on him during the season.
Someone could throw a pile of money at Morris, because he is only thirty. If they don’t, I’m hoping he’s wearing the Old English D.
Derek Lowe – This is a tricky one. After getting beat up during the regular season, Mr. Lowe had an outstanding post-season, raising his stock considerably. His outstanding 2002 campaign is now two years removed, and he’s regressed quite a bit since then. I’d like to see this extreme ground ball pitcher on the Tigers, but I hope they don’t overspend.
Troy Glauss – Definitely a wild card. The former homerun champ has been dinged up the last two years. He really struggled after coming back from shoulder surgery, but he’s still 27, and has the patience at the plate that I like. He’s probably not a lot better then Munson in the field, but at least he’s comfortable playing there.
So those are just a few guys. Wishful thinking? Yeah, maybe, but nobody ever thought we’d get Pudge last year.
Alright, I started doing an op/ed on what I thought the Tigers should do, but my kid started screaming, so this will have to wait until tonight, hopefully.