I missed the Ernie Harwell/Fox TV boondoggle. I’m not sure if they aired it when I was listening in on the radio or if I just missed it while watching and typing. Actually, I’m glad I missed it, because it was pretty rude. Had they put Ernie Harwell in the booth and kicked Buck (who I’m not really keen on) and Tim McCarver (who I know a lot of people hate but I actually don’t mind as much), I’m sure more people would have tuned in.
One thing I haven’t touched on too much is the ascent of Chris Shelton. After tearing up and winning the MVP of the Arizona Fall League, and then summarily hitting AAA pitching pretty hard, he finally got the call up when Carlos Pena was sent down after some pretty poor hitting. This has to be the single biggest upgrade the Tigers have made in the second quarter of the season because Shelton has been hitting at a .345/.391/.580 clip in 119 at bats (not including his 1 for 2 night he’s having right now). The .970 OPS is probably the most impressive part of it and the sample size is getting larger so it’s making it more legit.
UPDATE – Make that 2 for 3. He just hit a solo shot.
A couple of reasons why can be deduced by looking at some of the Hardball Times advanced statistics. He’s been extremely patient at the plate (4.2 pitches per plate appearance is the best on the team) and he’s made great contact (26.1% line drive percentage trails only Polanco’s 26.3%). Making good contact has resulted in an impressive .386 batting average on balls in play. And in half of the at bats, he’s matched Omar Infante’s 28 Runs Created (although with the homer tonight, he’s probably passed him).
Buddy Bell is in town. Bell has the distinction of being the manager of the second worst Tigers team ever. After replacing Sparky Anderson in 1996, the Tigers lost 109 games and they set the single season record for homeruns allowed by a pitching staff (241). The pitching staff was even worse then the 2003 version as they sported an ERA of 6.38, which was the second worst of all time. Only the 1930 Phillies had a worse ERA (6.71), although they were a tick worse then the 1899 Cleveland Spiders (6.37).