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The Corners

The Tigers were very hopeful entering the season that Eric Munson and Carlos Pena would both emerge as consistent and productive contributors in their lineup and attain the stardom that scouts and “experts” projected that they might achieve. They both have had difficult and frustrating seasons. For every glimmer of hope that they are ready to meet expectations, they both seem to take a step or two backward. After reading Lynn Henning’s recent article in the Detroit News I decided to look at their output and gauge it as compared to the rest of the American League. In doing this, I selected the members of each team who played the most games at both 1st and 3rd base. In the process I eliminated Seattle, Minnesota and Boston from my comparisons because injuries, trades and other variables made it to difficult for my feeble brain to factor them into the comparisons. I also grabbed 3 high run producing 1st/3rd pairs from the NL just as another comparison. In all of this I didn’t factor in park effects. I also realized that the National League 1st/3rd pairs would be even more productive in their lineups due to the fact that the pitcher bats and the American 1st/3rd pairs would be less productive with the presence of a Designated Hitter in their lineups.

G HR RP(runs scored+RBI) RP%(RP/team RP) .OPS
1b Pena 87 13 97 9% .737
3b Munson 79 14 66 6% .751
166 27 163 15% (.OPS+.OPS)1.488

When compared to the eleven other AL teams in my comparison Munson/Pena were 7th in Homers, 10th in Runs Produced, 10th in .OPS+.OPS, and 11th in Runs Produced Percentage. The .OPS+.OPS number in itself is not all that meaningful,but it was another way to compare player production. When you consider that the Tigers have hit the ball very well this year and are 5th in the American League in Total Team Runs Produced, the performance of Pena and Munson can be seen as that they are less productive members of a very productive lineup and that they are at positions in the lineup where teams hope to obtain a good chunk of their production. Also effecting their offensive production would be the fact that they are both as of late part of a platoon and are losing a lot of opportunities to increase their production in the Tiger lineup.

Here are some of the gaudier pairings as a means of comparison:
Player G HR RP RP% .OPS
Texeira 86 25 129 12 .923
Blalock 103 24 138 13 .885
Team RP=1100 49 267 24 1.808

Pujols 99 29 164 15 1.038
Rolen 101 25 169 15 1.024
Team RP=1104 54 333 30 2.062

Also compare the Tampa Bay pair, who are playing on a team with an identical record to the Tigers and whose team produces less runs.

Tino 89 14 90 10 .845
Huff 104 19 129 14 .805
Team RP=896 33 219 24 1.750

If Dave Dombrowski chooses to keep both Munson and Pena as the primary players at their positions, they will need to contribute more or the Tiger’s will need for Carlos Guillen, Brandon Inge and Omar Infante to continue to surprise with their offensice production.

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