August is typically one of my busier months with the CPA practice. Combine that with being a full time dad half the time, my writing time has diminished. It basically goes in spurts. Anyway, I took a break and decided to go to Fangraphs to look at the Tigers Win Probability Added figures. For those of you who don’t what WPA is, it’s basically the amount you have added to your team’s chances of winning. Looking at yesterday’s game as an example, the big hit was Austin Jackson’s two run home run. That took the Tigers from a 57.8% chance of winning the game to an 83.3% chance of winning hence that one hit game Austin Jackson a .255 pop. While it doesn’t totally give a player a clutch score, it does provide how valuable that players hits are.
Some basic weaknesses behind WPA is it gives a lot of credit to high leverage hits. So a grand slam in the first inning isn’t as valuable as a grand slam in the ninth when you’re down by three runs. Four runs is four runs. Also, if your teams wins, your overall WPA for the game is going to be .500. If you lose, it’s -.500. So the players are winning teams are going to have a higher WPA then their counterparts on losing teams.
Austin Jackson’s overall game WPA was .204. That two run home run was big, but it was his only hit. Max Scherzer’s start was worth more and he had a .331. Joaquin Benoit’s shutout inning was worth more then Jose Valverde mostly because Benoit was pitching with a one run lead while Valverde was pitching with a three run lead.
If you look at the Tigers leaderboard, you find some interesting things. Miguel Cabrera tops the list and that’s not a surprise. In fact his 4.38 WPA is the fourth best in all of baseball amongst hitters. Alex Avila is second and Victor Martinez is third.
Justin Verlander sports a 4.10 WPA. That’s second in all of baseball just behind Jered Weaver. Unfortunately no other starter has a positive WPA. Jose Valverde is second with 2.60 and Al Alburquerque is third with 1.21. The bottom three are Rick Porcello, Phil Coke and Brad Penny (who’s dead last). The bottom three on the hitting side are Carlos Guillen, Magglio Ordonez and Ryan Raburn (who’s at the bottom of the list).
So just something to check out when you’re board. They have a cool iPhone application and you can also check out their site and they update the games in real time.
This three game series with the Indians is off to a lot better start then last week’s at Cleveland. Max Scherzer got the better of an impressive pitching duel between he and Josh Tomlin as the Tigers took game one at Comerica Park. After 129 pitches, Scherzer left the game with a 2-1 lead in an impressive and important start. He gave up just one run (and even that was suspect because he should have gotten out of the inning on a blown ball call) on five hits and a walk with six strikeouts. The Tigers helped him out by getting a couple more runs and the relief duo of Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde finished up the game with a shutout inning a piece. For Valverde, he picked up his 36th save in 36 chances.
All of the runs came via the long ball. Austin Jackson showed the Tigers the way with a two run shot in the seventh. Then in the eighth, Alex Avila and Johnny Peralta hit back to back solo home runs. Peralta was the lone Tiger with two hits and while nobody drew a walk, the Tigers struck out just twice.
Then the controversy started. After the game it was announced that the Tigers would send down Andy Dirks in place of Brandon Inge. I like this move for a few different reasons. One, Inge is a lot better then Betemit against lefties. Two, Inge is better defensively and they now have have way too many outfielders. Finally, it’s a chance for Inge to earn a spot on the playoff roster. It’ll be interesting to see if he rises to the challenge.
The White Sox lost their third straight so that helped as well. The Tigers now have a 2 1/2 game lead over the Indians (one in the loss column) and a five game lead over the White Sox. Game two against Cleveland is tonight. It’ll be Doug Fister going up against David Huff. I know it’s a small sample size, but Inge is three for five in his career against Huff, who’s a lefty. Just something to watch.
I don’t think I’ll be able to get to this tonight so I’ll write more tomorrow, but the Tigers traded for Delmon Young. They gave up Cole Nelson and player to be named later. Interesting move.
After the Tigers were down 5-0 last night, even I tuned them out for a bit. Of course with the help of my EPSN Sportscenter iPhone app, I was able to more easily keep tabs on the Tigers as they came back from that deficit. Scherzer gave up five runs in the second but the Tigers scored five runs in the sixth. Miguel Cabrera accounted for three of those runs with a sac. fly and a two run home run and the game winning RBI came on Ryan Raburn’s two run single.
What I really like was how the Scherzer was able to buckle down and give the Tigers seven innings. He ended up with ten strikeouts, which is a season high. Phil Coke and Jose Valverde threw shutout innings to close out the game and Valverde picked up his 35th save.
On Thursday, Justin Verlander won his 100th career game. He’s also four strikeouts away from his third straight 200 strikeout season. That puts him in select company with only Mickey Lolich (six straight) and Joe Coleman (three straight) on the Tigers leaderboard. His 100 wins puts him tied for 16th on the Tigers chart with Ed Killian and he’s five back from the 15th spot (Schoolboy Rowe). He needs to get to 123 (Frank Lary) to get into the top ten.
The Tigers can’t quite seem to shake the Indians and the White Sox though. Both won yesterday so the Tigers are still three up on the Indians and five up on the White Sox. This afternoon we’ll see Doug Fister take the mound and he’ll face Jo-Jo Reyes. Then it’s back home for the Twins. I was hoping to make Monday’s game but it’s not going to happen.
The Tigers have a big couple of weeks as they started a road series against the Indians last night (with a loss) and then they have them at home next weekend. They’re off to a bad start in this series, but if they can win both of those series, they can push the Indians down to six games which would give them a nice lead heading into the final month and a half.
Last night’s loss was a tough one. First you had the two hour rain delay, then you had the fourteen innings. Now both teams have their pens in shambles so the Tigers need some innings out of Rick Porcello tonight. Fortunately the Tigers had their day off so it’s not as bad as it could be. The Indians throw Ubaldo Jimenez, who was roughed up in his first start as an Indian and has had three poor starts in a row.
The big news this week were the contract extensions. Jim Leyland gets one more year and Dave Dombrowski gets through 2015. Mixed feelings because while both have done a good job and put the Tigers back in the map, they haven’t been able to recapture that magic since 2006 (hard to believe that was five years ago). This year could be the year but they still have some work to do. Then again, the other questions is who’s out there.
The Tigers also signed their top pick, James McCann. They didn’t have a first round pick and they locked him up well before the August 16 deadline.
Big game again tonight. Let’s hope Porcello brings his A game.