Friday, November 28, 2008

2008 - Detroit Tigers

The Detroit Tigers were supposed to score 1,000 runs and challenge for the World Series, and... they sure didn't.

Record: 74-88
Pythagorean Record: 78-84
Third Order Standings (from BPro): 79-83
My Prediction: 89-73
Over/Under: Under 93.5 - Correct

The big Tigers' acquisition, Miguel Cabrera, started out slowly and had a sub-par year by his standards (.292/.349/.537, 37 HR, .379 wOBA, 115 wOBA+), but still managed to lead the AL in home runs. Cabrera was also the only Tiger to play in more than 146 games. Carlos Guillen missed time but continued being one of the under-appreciated hitters in the league (.286/.376/.436, .367 wOBA, 110 wOBA+). Curtis Granderson missed the start of the year but raked when he got back (.280/.365/.494, 22 HR, 13 3B, .378 wOBA, 113 wOBA+). Magglio Ordonez's OPS dropped 150 points, though he was still productive (.317/.376/.494, 21 HR, .376 wOBA, 113 wOBA+). Marcus Thames showed tremendous power and no other skills (.241/.292/.516, 25 HR, .355 wOBA, 108 wOBA+). And finally, Placido Polanco and his very square jaw played excellent defense once again and added a little with the bat (.307/.350/.417, .341 wOBA, 102 wOBA+). Edgar Renteria sucked again in the AL (.270/.317/.382) and Detroit only scored 821 runs.

Normally, 821 runs would be enough to at least have a winning season. Unfortunately for the Tigers, their pitching collapsed. Dontrelle Willis, who came over from Florida with Cabrera and received a shiny new contract before the season, forgot how to throw strikes (13.1 BB/9) and was sent to the minors. Despite the formally high 90's fastball and three quality pitches, Justin Verlander regressed to being only slightly above average (4.84 ERA, 7.3 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 4.58 tRA, 106 tRA+). Jeremy Bonderman pitched OK until he got hurt (4.29 ERA, 5.40 tRA, 71.3 IP), and lefties Kenny Rogers (5.70 ERA, 6.34 tRA) and Nate Robertson (6.35 ERA, 5.34 tRA) were pretty horrible. The bullpen was even worse, with closer Todd Jones losing his job (4.97 ERA, 7.14 tRA) to Fernando Rodney (4.91 ERA, 5.34 tRA). The only pleasant surprise on the staff was rookie right-hander Armando Galarraga (3.73 ERA, 6.4 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 5.29 tRA, 91 tRA+). I wouldn't expect a repeat of that kind of success in 2009 from him though (1.4 HR/9 in '08). A 4.91 ERA (857 runs allowed) just won't cut it for a contender.

With a farm system that had been depleted and a payrolls that will need to be trimmed, the Tigers are in a little bit of trouble. I still expect Verlander to eventually turn into an Ace, but he 'll need some help to keep the other teams down while Cabrera and co. put some runs on the board. It will be pretty embarrassing if they finish below the Royals in the standings... again.

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