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2006 Baseball Predictions

Alright, this is the time of year where I usually make a fool out of myself by making predictions that ultimately look, well, foolish.  Last year I predicted the Tigers would win 84 games.  Enough said.

In my Tiger preview over at the Hardball Times, I already laid out where I think the Tigers will end up.  I see them finishing in fourth place with 79 wins.  Here’s a few additional Tiger predictions……

This is a repeat prediction, and I probably would have nailed it had Jeremy Bonderman not gotten shut down last September.  The last time the Tigers had a 15 game winner was 1997.  Meaning if they don’t do it this year, the franchise will have had a decade long drought.  The last guys to do it are Willie Blair, who’s been out of the league since 2001, and Justin Thompson, who got hurt, was traded to Texas, and made the news by actually coming back and throwing in some games for the Rangers last year.  Last year, Mike Maroth and Jeremy Bonderman both won 14 games, and this year I think Bonderman will finally get over the hump.  I’m predicting Bonderman to have a 17-9 record.

Whenever I bring up Brandon Inge’s fielding prowess to, how’s the nice way to put it, a less informed person, the subject always gets back to Inge’s 23 errors last year.  What people fail to point is, he started 42 double plays and he finished the season with 14 fielding runs above average.  Eric Chavez, who won the gold glove last season, made only 15 errors, but he had only 9 fielding runs above average.  Inge at third base was worth half a win more on the field then Chavez at third base according to Baseball Prospectus.

Hot off the press is John Dewan’s Fielding Bible.  In the book, a +/- forumla is used to rank fielders by position.  Of course I’m not going to tell you how it’s calculated, because you should buy this great book (and I couldn’t do it justice).  Eric Chavez finished with a +15 and was the third best third baseman in MLB.  His figure was tops in the American Leauge.  Just behind him, at +12 and fifth in MLB, was Brandon Inge. Inge came out slightly ahead in range, but Chavez blew him away on fielding bunts (Chavez had an A+ rating).

So say Chavez was better.  The point is, he was barely better, and this was Inge’s first full season at third base.  I’m going to predict that Inge brings his errors down into the high teens and gets the recognition he deserves by bringing home a gold glove.

Finally, Chris Shelton will lead the team in RBIS and Curtiz Granderson will lead the team in both runs and batting average.  Magglio Ordonez will lead the team in homeruns, but it’ll be another unspectacular season for the Tigers in that category, so I’m thinking around 25.

Here’s how I think things will turn out around the rest of the league:

AL East – New York Yankees

AL Central – Cleveland Indians

AL West – Oakland A’s

NL East – New York Mets

NL Central – St. Louis Cardinals

NL West – San Francisco Giants

AL Wild Card – Toronto Blue Jays

NL Wild Card – Philadelphia Phillies

AL MVP – Gary Sheffield

NL MVP – Albert Pujols

AL Cy Young – Johan Santana

NL Cy Young – Jake Peavy

AL ROY – Justin Verlander

NL ROY – Josh Willingham

AL Pennant – New York Yankees

NL Pennant – New York Mets

World Series Champs – New York Mets

I have to say I’m in 100% agreement about Brandon Inge. I’d like nothing more than to see him lead the league in range factor (again) and bring his errors down to about 9.

Posted by jeff k on April 3rd, 2006 at 10:25 am

Inge’s “range” factor really helped yesterday…. He “ranged” over and tried to take a ball away in front of Guillen. He muffed the play and almost cost an extra base. Thankfully the extra base was not taken because Guillen had to change directions, on loose dirt, at full speed, on surgically repaired knees, and retrieve Inge’s “range” blunder. Great range Brandon! Speaking of Inge’s “range” he was about a mile short on that slide into second. The throw from Buck was so late and high Cecil Fielder would have been safe. A horrible play on Brandon’s part. Baseball Prospectus be damned. You can’t apologize away Inge’s 23 errors. His range led to a “hit” yesterday. Good thing I was not scoring because if you are going to cut in front of the shortstop, then you HAVE to make the play. For the season Inge has no error’s, but his mental error’s now lead the team with that play and that Adam Sandler like slide into secondbase. It looked like he was trying to audition for Saturday Night Live with that slide. Range is great, but you still have to make the PLAY. He ranged and lost (again), and it goes down as a hit, and only Guillens hustle stoped the extra base, at a cost of having us all cringe because I don’t want to see his knees pop like a champagne cork.

Posted by EZ on April 4th, 2006 at 6:17 am

EZ, Brandon Inge’s range at 3rd more than makes up for the extra errors. If he hits he’ll be an asset at third.

Also, an apostrophe is typically used to signify possession and is unnecessary when pluralizing a word. Seem like a nit-picky pet peeve? It’s nothing next to going bananas about Inge’s fielding (that is, the fielding of Brandon Inge, not multiple “Inges” who are fielding) based on one game.

Posted by Dan on April 4th, 2006 at 7:10 am


If I were to nit-pick about Brandon, I would mention that while he did have two base hits yesterday, he still managed to take a called 3rd strike with two on and two out in the bottom of the 6th. Much like last year, he is averaging .250 in strikouts this season. My “going bananas” was in response to my belief that people of your ilk have been apologizing for his 23 errors last year. Apparently your rebuttal is to come up with a vague “more than makes up for extra errors” mantra, and then to attack my grammer. Should you feel the need to respond to this post, I can’t wait to read what you will say about my mother. Based on one game this year, the “range” factor you crow about did not take into account it was at the very least a mental error to try and pick that ball up from Guillen. Inge has no fielding error’s this year, and his range won’t be quantified in the end result, because it was ruled a hit. Nor will the stats show that he should have stolen that base, but was out due to horrible technique. Baseball Prospectus is a great tool, but by no means should it be considered gospel. Or is it gosple? I will leave you another gramOR error to use in Brandon’s defense.

Posted by EZ on April 4th, 2006 at 12:06 pm

EZ: The stats will so show that Inge attempting a stolen base at almost any time is a bad bet. For his career, he’s 18 SB, 21 CS (and that’s through the end of 2005, so he’s now down to 18-for-40), and had 7 SB against 6 CS last year. So, if we’re going to go strictly “by the stathead book”, if you will, Brandon should never have left 1st base in the first place, and whatever he did to f— up his slide would never have happened. And, yes, believe it or not, when communicating in writing, your grammar and spelling do reflect your intelligence generally and, by association, the intelligence of any argument you might be making. Take a minute to edit your writing, or, better yet, pay attention in English class.

Posted by jeff k on April 5th, 2006 at 5:55 am

Did you see how Inge is killing us today, EZ? 2-3, a homer, a double, and two runs? I’m not saying he’s a great player, but he is a damn good defensive player.

Looks like he just made some kind of slick play. I’m just following the MLB gametracker, but the reason I know is that the Royals had a man on 2nd with no outs, and then the next guy grounded into a fielder’s choice to Inge. How does that happen? Either horrific baserunning (down by 6) or something very slick by Inge or both.

Posted by Dan on April 5th, 2006 at 11:55 am

Dan, I hope Inge continues to pound the ball. I would prefer him to do it in a tight contest, rather than his Rob Deer day yesterday (His homer came when we were up by 6). Hey, we are all pulling for the Tigers, and I am wildly pleased by yesterdays no doubter. I hope Inge makes me eat all my words… As far as the play yesterday on the field, I listened to the game on the radio, and it was breathtakingly bad baserunning (if you believe Jim Price). We will need all of our bats working this weekend. Chances are fair Maroth or Robertson will get hit hard in that bathtub size ballpark in Arlington. If we see Grilli pitching it means we have gotten shelled and will need hot bats, including Brandon’s bat to get back in the game. Going into Opening Day at the Copa with a 4-2 record now seems very possible….

Posted by EZ on April 6th, 2006 at 4:15 am

Upon further review…. Dan, I was looking at the box score and see that Inge managed to have 3 strikeouts yesterday. His batting average for the season is an impressive .444. His strikeout average is also .444 for the year. Not so impressive. He has as my K’s as hits. Rob Deer indeed. You and I will have to agree to disagree about Inge being a “damn good defensive player”. Were he used as a “super sub” as I advocate, then I would agree with your assessment. However, as a thirdbaseman, no amount of number massaging will hide his 23 errors from last season. I utterly disagree with any “his range makes up for his error’s” defense. I feel he ought to have one error already. His fielding (range) on balls up the line is better than average in my estimation. However, his range can hurt him at times. On Opening Day he went too far to his left and cut off a much better fielder. If you are going to go that far for the ball and cut of Carlos Guillen, you damn well had better make the play. Inge booted it. Period. Hopefully he settles down this year and can cap his errors to 15. If he does that, and can get all those strikeouts down, then I will be willing to cut him some more slack. I truly hope he proves me wrong. His statistical history is bleak. He will need to overcome his own history to prove me wrong.

Posted by EZ on April 6th, 2006 at 6:05 am

EZ, you keep mentioning 23 errors as though this is somehow an unforgiveable sin… Let’s go back, shall we? It’s 1958, and a 21-year-old who is spending his first full season in the big leagues at third base (we’ll call him “A”) makes 21 errors, gets into 30 double plays, and sports a range factor of 3.04. That same player in 1974 is 37 years old, makes 18 errors, gets into 44 double plays, has a 3.43 RF and he wins the gold glove… for the 15th consecutive year. Also in 1974, in the opposite league from “A” is a 24-year-old in his sophomore campaign at 3rd base (we’ll call him “B”), and he makes 26 errors, gets into 40 double plays, and has a RF of 3.32. The next year (’75), he makes 24 errors, is involved in 30 DPs, and sports a 3.31 RF. The year after that (’76), it’s 21 Es, 29 DPs, 3.23 RF. That year, he wins his first of 9 straight gold gloves. Among his gold glove campaigns are ’79 (23 Es, 36 DPs, 3.03 RF), ’80 (27 Es, 31 DPs, 3.15 RF), ’82 (23 Es, 28 DPs, 2.93 RF), & ’84 (26 Es, 19 DPs, 2.86 RF). He logs his 10th gold glove in ’86, sporting 6 Es, 27 DPs, and an RF of 2.40. Fast forward to 1997, and a 22-year-old wins rookie of the year (we’ll call him “C”) as a 3rd basemen, posting 24 Es, 30 DPs, and a 2.81 RF. He wins the gold glove 6 of the next 7 years, starting with his sophomore campaign. His errors are in the teens most of those years (14, 10, 12, 16, 13, 10), but his RFs are under 3 almost every time (2.86, 2.61, 2.84, 3.02, 2.66, 2.96). Now, compare those to Brandon Inge’s 2005 campaign: 23 Es, yes, but let’s also give credit for his 41 DPs and 3.25 RF, one of the highest numbers among those mentioned above.

“A” is Brooks Robinson.
“B” is Mike Schmidt.
“C” is Scott Rolen.

I’m not saying he’s in their league, but let’s not talk about him like he’s the worst third baseman to ever don leather, either.

And let’s not forget 2005’s gold glove winner, Eric Chavez, who sported 15 Es, 27 DPs, and a 2.82 RF. The difference of 8 errors works out to about one every three weeks. And that’s comparing him to the gold glove winner. Imagine if we were comparing him to merely an average third baseman, instead.

Posted by jeff k on April 6th, 2006 at 7:38 am

Just to simplify things a bit, if you can’t get to the ball, it’s not going to be an error. With that said, a player with a better range is going to make more plays AND it’s more likely that he’ll be charged with more errors. I’d take the extra range and the one extra error a month then a slug any day.

Posted by Brian on April 6th, 2006 at 8:31 am

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