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Written by Matt Snyder | 12 February 2012

Brandon_IngeThe other day I wrote a post claiming that platooning the DH position wouldn't be a terrible idea as long as the organization was smart about how and when each player was used. But since writing that post one thought has been gnawing at my brain: what exactly is the best spot for each player? Or similarly, what is the ideal lineup (taking offense and defense into account) versus left handed and right handed pitching?

So, as you can obviously see, I decided to test this. Before I report the numbers, here was a little bit about my method. First, I figured that Austin Jackson, Alex Avila, and Jhonny Peralta shouldn't be part of this discussion. They each have defined roles, and there really isn't a debate that they should be in the lineup as much as possible (Avila, of course, will need periodic rest, but that's really a one-to-one situation with Gerald Laird that isn't part of this discussion). For everyone else, there's either a debate about whether they're the best option at the position (Ryan Raburn vs. Ramon Santiago at second base, for example), or if they're a good candidate to fill the DH spot on occasion.

For defense, I selected a UZR/150 for each player. In most cases this was their career average at each position, but in some situations where defense is obviously on the decline (Brandon Inge, for example), I used the most recent couple of years. I came up with the following list:

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Written by Matt Snyder | 10 February 2012

AJ_BurnettWord is out that the New York Yankees are interested in trading away starting pitcher AJ Burnett. The Tigers, apparently not satisfied to simply hand the final rotation spot to Jacob Turner, Drew Smyly, Andy Oliver, Duane Below, or Adam Wilk, have been passively searching for an external candidate to fill the role. Could there be a fit here?

Burnett has had his fair share of struggles the last couple of years (his final ERA was above five each of the last two seasons), but his “stuff” appears to be solid (his K/9 rate was 8.18 last year), and his elevated ERA is directly tied to a seemingly unsustainably high home run rate. His xFIP was only 3.86 in 2011, so if his home run rate normalized, then he would revert to being an effective pitcher. Perhaps a ballpark that’s friendly toward fly balls would help.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 10 February 2012

Jacob_Turner_USAJacob Turner is the consensus top prospect heading into the 2012 season.

If you’re anything like me, you find excitement in prospect lists and minor league stats, but you find it difficult to keep up with the ever-changing rankings. I’m no prospect or minor league expert myself, but I do like to do fair amount of stat-checking on some of the bigger names in the Tigers’ system. My problem is that, after the top few players, I have trouble remember exactly who it is I’m “supposed” to be watching.

So, this year I’ve decided to keep track of the various lists. Whenever a reputable (or semi-reputable) person or website releases a set of rankings, I’ll snatch it up and add it to the database. You'll find that a tab for 'Prospect Database' has been added to the linkbar at the top of the site.

Source

1

2

3

4

5

Keith Law

J. Turner, RHP

N. Castellanos, 3B

D. Smyly, LHP

C. Crosby, LHP

J. McCann, C

MLB.com

J. Turner, RHP

N. Castellanos, 3B

D. Smyly, LHP

A. Oliver, LHP

C. Crosby, LHP

Fangraphs

J. Turner, RHP

N. Castellanos, 3B

D. Smyly, LHP

C. Crosby, LHP

A. Oliver, LHP

Motor City Bengals

J. Turner, RHP

N. Castellanos, 3B

D. Smyly, LHP

D. Vasquez, OF

C. Crosby, LHP

Bey. The Boxscore

J. Turner, RHP

N. Castellanos, 3B

D. Smyly, LHP

C. Crosby, LHP

J. McCann, C

Baseball America

J. Turner, RHP

N. Castellanos, 3B

D. Smyly, LHP

C. Crosby, LHP

A. Oliver, LHP







Source

6

7

8

9

10

Keith Law

T. Collins, OF

D. Fields, OF

B. Paulino, RHP

D. Machado, SS

J. Voss, LHP

MLB.com

B. Rondon, RHP

D. Fields, OF

A. Garcia, OF

B. Paulino, RHP

J. Ortega, RHP

Fangraphs

R. Brantly, C

J. McCann, C

B. Paulino, RHP

A. Westlake, 1B

D. Vasquez, OF

Motor City Bengals

B. Paulino, RHP

A. Garcia, OF

R. Brantly, C

T. Collins, OF

A. Oliver, LHP

Bey. The Boxscore

B. Paulino, RHP

A. Garcia, OF

A. Oliver, LHP

A. Westlake, 1B

R. Brantly

Baseball America

B. Paulino, RHP

R. Brantly, C

A. Burgos, LHP

J. McCann, C

A. Garcia, OF


Feel free to let me know if you see a prospect list that should be added to the database. Either drop a comment below this post, or hit me up on Twitter @snyder_matthew.
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Written by Matt Snyder | 09 February 2012

Delmon YoungJames Schmehl has an article up on Mlive in which Delmon Young is quoted as saying he “wouldn’t prefer” being named the season’s full time DH. My first reaction to the piece was to write a personal letter to Mr. Young telling him, in no uncertain terms, that no one particularly cares how he feels about the situation. But his points about DH-ing being mentally tough to adjust to are probably fair (or, at least, mildly understandable). Young says:

“[Adam Dunn] wasn’t used to it last year and struggled because all your concentration is on hitting -- it makes it really tough… When you go out on the field, you stay in a better rhythm.”

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard a player speak of the difficulties designated hitters face, and it’s been shown numerous times that hitters typically hit a bit worse as a DH than when they’re in the field (not Dunn worse, but still noticeably so). I’ve been harping on using Young as the DH, but I know I don’t give the mental aspect of the game enough thought. Dave Dombrowski was quoted later in the same article talking about the team’s plan to use the DH spot:

When we talk about who is going to be the designated hitter, it’s whoever Jim Leyland deems the DH for that particular day… It could be Delmon, it could be Brennan Boesch. It could be Miguel (Cabrera) and it could be Prince (Fielder).”

"The list goes on, Dombrowski said. Alex Avila, Jhonny Peralta and Ryan Raburn will all be considered DH candidates, too."

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Written by Matt Snyder | 05 February 2012


Wow, I’m really harping on this Miguel Cabrera at third base thing, aren’t I? I promise I’ll write about something else eventually. Maybe.

UZR/150* is a nice number, don’t get me wrong. It’s an easy way to take a career or a group of seasons and divide it out on a “per season” basis (UZR/150 is quite literally UZR per 150 games played at the position). But UZR/150 has a context that needs to be understood before we go around citing numbers.

*UZR stands for Ultimate Zone Rating, an ‘advanced’ defensive metric that estimates a player’s contribution to the ballclub (reported in runs above/below average).

You can find a comprehensive UZR Primer on FanGraphs if you want to learn more about the statistic, but an over simplification is this: the field is divided (sort of like a grid) into multiple ‘zones’, and each fielder is credited by how many plays he makes (or fails to make) in his zones. Other factors that are considered include batted ball type and speed of the runner (as well as a few other things). But some factors are hard to determine, like initial position of the fielder or exact batted ball speed. This is all to say that UZR is a very good metric (likely the best defensive metric out there), but it is subject to a lot of randomness.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 04 February 2012

Miguel Cabrera

There’s an article by Joe Sheehan on SI.com* deriding the Tigers in their attempt to pass Miguel Cabrera off as a third baseman for the upcoming season. At best, I would say the entire article is misguided, I pretty much disagree with all of his main points, but I really take exception to his use (or misuse) of advanced defensive metrics.

*Best I can tell the article was posted several days ago, but I just recently stumbled across it; I hope I’m not too late to the party on this one.

Here’s the quote:

"[Cabrera] was the Marlins' regular third baseman in 2006 and 2007, and has a total of 387 career appearances at the position. He wasn't good there; all three primary measures of defensive performance (+/-, UZR and Total Zone) agreed that he was below average; by +/-, he rated as one of the worst third basemen in the game, costing the Marlins 20 runs a year on defense."

20 runs a year? Really?

(more after the jump)

 

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Written by Matt Snyder | 03 February 2012



Did you hear the news? (that was a joke, I'm sure you did.) The Tigers signed Prince Fielder to an un-goodnessly large contract that will pay him over $200 million (American) dollars over the next nine years. This contract will, in all likelihood, prove to be a gross overpayment, but I won’t be complaining as he and Cabrera combine to hit a billion home runs for the next several years.

Now that the initial shock and excitement has worn off, we’re all left with the same question: what do you do with two hefty first basemen? As we all know, there are two answers. Door number one leads to one of the two playing first base and the other acting as the designated hitter on any given day. Door number two leads to Cabrera moving back to his “natural” position at the hot corner (there can’t be anything “natural” about a 6-4, 250 lb man playing third base, can there?).

The first choice would be relatively simple to implement for this season. The addition of Prince effectively and completely makes up for the loss of Victor Martinez, so it’s really just a plug-and-play solution. The big problem arises when Victor returns by the start of the 2013 season. What do you do when you have three really good hitters that need to be in the lineup everyday, but you only have two lineup spots available? You could try to trade Victor, but you’d get literally nothing in return (unless you eat a large portion of the money) because he has little to no excess value in his contract. That’s a less than ideal solution. You could try to trade Cabrera, but then, what would have been the point of all of this? Door number one works for a year, but I think it would lead down a path that ends up in front of door number two.

 What the Tigers really need to do is see if Cabrera can stick at third base. So the question becomes, how bad can we allow him to be in the field before we need to squash the experiment? To answer this question, we need to figure out what the differences in the lineups would be with Cabby at third and at DH.

(more after the jump)

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