The list of Type A and Type B free agents was put out today and while this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, there’s not many Tigers on the list. The Tigers have no Type A free agents and the lone Type B free agents are Wilson Betemit and Magglio Ordonez. I highly doubt Magglio Ordonez gets offered arbitration and I’m guessing with Brandon Inge already locked up for another year and guys like Don Kelly who can fill in when Inge is hurt (or bad) that Betemit isn’t offered it either.
Of course the Tigers should be buyers this off season so this list is important for a different reason. Namely, the Tigers could potentially lose a pick or two depending on what they end up doing and who they pick up.
What’s his Grade – I give Austin Jackson a “C.” This is probably higher then most people might have thought but buried in Jackson’s low batting average were some optimistic signs. Yes, he only hit .249 (I wonder who could have predicted that) but he turned some of those doubles into home runs a little earlier then I would have expected from him (keep in mind, Jackson won’t turn 25 until February. Through August, Jackson looked like he was going to end up with more walks then in 2010 (which he did) and less strikeouts (which he didn’t) but a horrible September in which he struck out 42 times set him back. While you just can’t eliminate an entire month, you can explain some of this away as fatigue and it’s no surprise that Jackson struggled in the playoffs this year.
Better or Worse? – Jackson was a little worse in 2011 then he was in 2010 but like I talk about above, it’s not as much as you might think. If you’re a fan of WAR (I’m using Baseball-Reference’s), Jackson had a 2.4 WAR in 2011 versus 2.8 in 2010. A lot of this was because his shortcomings at the plate were made up for by a better season out in the field. He walked nine more times in about the same number of plate appearances so in short, he wasn’t as good as he was in 2010 but I like the development. If Jackson is the lead off hitter of the future, he took a small step in the right direction this year.
MIP (Most Important Statistic) – 10 home runs. At just 24, Jackson showed some increased pop at the plate. If this is a trend, a 25 home run/25 stolen base season in the future isn’t out of the question. Of course if he’s leading off, his primary job should be to get on base but it’s nice knowing we could have one more potential power bat in waiting. The only other season Jackson hit more home runs in a season was 2007 when he split time with three different affiliates (he hit most of those home runs with Tampa).
Fun with Splits – In the first inning, Austin Jackson hit .220/.275/.326. Jackson’s best inning was the sixth inning. When he hit in that inning, he belted .379/.429/.655. With two outs in the inning, Jackson hit just .159/.257/.298. He was best with one out when he hit .308/.358/.404. Jackson also loved the White Sox. In 15 games, he hit .391/.443/.625.
Conclusion – A lot was made of Jackson’s .396 BABIP last year. This year, he hit .340 which is still well above average. Many people think that it means Jackson has more room to drop in 2012 but I think with Jackson’s speed, he should be able to stay above the average .300 until he begins to slow down. My guess is that we see a slightly better Austin Jackson in 2013 and I hope some of these nice bumps he had (home runs, defense) are trends and not one time occurrences.
This week I plan on doing a review of each of the Tigers. I’m going to take a little bit of a different approach so be sure to give me some feedback on what you like and don’t like. First up will be Austin Jackson. Look for him tomorrow or Tuesday.
Also, I’m doing some Tiger trivia over at the Tigerblog Facebook page. At some point, I’m going to put together some prizes so look at this as the exhibition season. I’m not sure if my latest one is just tough, or if it’s Sunday and people aren’t on Facebook or people just aren’t trying so stop by and give me a guess.
Not to get too personal, but I went through a divorce late 2010/early 2011 (this is a segue so bear with me). In the divorce, I got to keep the house. While there were some personal reasons I wanted to keep it (I like it and it’s the only house my son has ever lived in and he went through enough stuff), there was also one selfish reason. Namely, the thought of packing up and moving seemed like such an utter pain that it influenced my decision. In a lot of ways, I liken this to the Tigers picking up Jose Valverde. While I haven’t gone out and checked which closers are going to be on the market, I’m pretty sure the Tigers could have gotten someone better for $9 million. It’s just they’d have to take their chances that Valverde wouldn’t take arbitration and then go out and spend their energy on picking up a new guy. Instead, they took the easy (and popular) choice and just overpaid for Valverde.
I like Jose Valverde. He’s entertaining and he does his job. He’s also a solid pitcher who had a decent, if fluky season. The fact that he might get Cy Young votes though is laughable. Strip away the saves (I’ll get to that in a minute) and Valverde’s numbers are good but definitely not elite. If you look at the closers behind him in saves, you could argue that Mariano Rivera was way better then Valverde this year and you could also argue that Valverde wasn’t even the best reliever on his team. Joaquin Benoit and for a while Al Alburquerque were both more effective.
While there’s a lot of stats out there that are deceiving (and I’ve made this rant before), the save has to be the least useful. I mean, Todd Jones has led the league in saves before. And while it still irks me that managers work their bullpen around this stupid statistic, the fact that many base the effectiveness of a closer on it is equally annoying.
So in short, I think the Tigers could have saved some money (or gotten a better pitcher for their money) by going to the market but I’m also not going to get all worked up about it because it’s probably not that big of a difference if they had and I can sympathize with why they did what they did.
Man, it’s been a while since I wrote. Sadly, I really have no excuse other then I’ve gotten out of the habit. Work has slowed down a bit this past month and it almost seemed like I was more busy enjoying the season then I felt like writing about it. This year I went to six Tiger games (a record for me, I live 45 minutes away from the park so it’s not easy especially with having my son half the time) and I went to four other ballparks (three Minor League parks and I went to White Sox game) so I got my share of baseball. I’m happy about that but I also want to keep this site going so bear with me.
2011 was a good year for Tiger fans and I definitely enjoyed it. The second crash never happened and the team thrived in the final couple of months. Of course that appeared to take a toll and the Tigers looked spent going into the playoffs. I felt tired just watching Alex Avila up there swinging. The playoffs also pointed to some fundamental flaws that the Tigers had. I also wasn’t happy about some of Jim Leyland’s stategies but that’s nothing new. We will always agree to disagree there.
At this point, I’m just riding out the season taking in as much baseball as I can that’s left. I’m glad this series will go at least six games. I’m also looking forward to an off-season that should see the Tigers make some plays in the free agent market once again. Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez’s contracts come off the books and that should free up enough money for the Tigers to make some moves. They also had five home playoffs games so hopefully some of that money will be put back into the team. i don’t think the Tigers will make a big splash with another big name but they definitely need to fill in some of the gaps that exist in some of the more unglamorous parts of the roster. I know a backup catcher and middle relief doesn’t get a lot of attention but if we had some both this year we might be playing in the World Series right now.
I’ve talked about him before, and while I know he had a good post-season, but I hope the Tigers don’t sign Delmon Young to a long term deal. He has one more year of arbitration eligibility and while I wouldn’t mind seeing him roaming left field next year, I don’t see him as a long term solution. In fact it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s the one guy that actually ends up at the arbitration table during Dave Dombrowski’s tenure but we’ll have to wait and see there.
It feels like yesterday that the Tigers were opening their season. Yes, I’m getting old and that changes your perspective on time but it just seemed like this season flew by. Lets hope that the offseason goes by just as fast. It’s already weird not having the Tigers around and it’ll feel equally weird not having baseball in general to listen to. I do have some things planned for the offseason so I do hope you stop by or at least subscribe to my feed. Or you can find on Facebook (and yes, I plan on doing more with that as well).