Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Prince Fielder Is A Tiger

 "Justin Verlander might win 20 games with the staggering run support he is likely to receive, because there are days when he may allow six runs in five innings and still win by a touchdown; the Tigers may be the latest team to take a run at scoring 1,000 runs." - Buster Olney

While those words may be true today they were actually written before the 2008 season. Following the off season acquisition of Miguel Cabrera the Tigers were widely predicted to score 1000 runs and easily win the division. That didn't happen. While the offense was, in fact, very good - finished in the top 5 in most categories - they didn't score a 1000 runs, or 900, or even 825. Behind a dreadful pitching staff they limped to a 74-88 record, good for last place in the AL Central. The point is, things don't always go as planned, no matter who a team acquires.

Fast forward to today. The Tigers signed Prince Fielder and the hype that surrounded the 2008 Tigers is alive and well four years later. Detroit will be good this year but I don't know that Fielder will turn them into a 100 win team. I don't think they'll fall apart like they did in 2008 (Justin Verlander won't be as bad as he was that year but I'm equally sure he won't be as dominant as he was in 2011) but I also don't see them running away with the division.

I think the Royals still match up well with the Tigers. Sure they went 7-11 against Detroit last year but KC actually outscored them 83-72 in those 18 games. 

Rk Date Tm Opp Rslt
1 2011-09-21 KCR DET L 3-6
2 2011-09-20 KCR DET W 10-2
3 2011-09-01 KCR DET W 11-8
4 2011-08-31 KCR DET L 4-5
5 2011-08-30 KCR DET L 1-2
6 2011-08-29 KCR DET W 9-5
7 2011-08-07 KCR DET W 4-3
8 2011-08-06 KCR DET L 3-4
9 2011-08-05 KCR DET L 3-4
10 2011-07-10 KCR DET L 1-2
11 2011-07-09 KCR DET W 13-6
12 2011-07-08 KCR DET L 4-6
13 2011-07-07 KCR DET L 1-3
14 2011-05-14 KCR DET L 0-3
15 2011-05-13 KCR DET L 1-3
16 2011-04-10 KCR DET W 9-5
17 2011-04-09 KCR DET W 3-1
18 2011-04-08 KCR DET L 2-5
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used

All 11 losses were by 3 runs or less, meaning the Royals were in every single game against Detroit last year. I expect more of the same this season for a few reasons, which I'll spell out.

  1. KC will get full seasons out of Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez. While the Tigers have a decent starting rotation, they're not exactly the Phillies. KC scored 2 runs or fewer in six of the games versus Detroit last year, but five of those games came before August, when KC started trotting out their likely 2012 lineup. 
  2. Jonathan Sanchez, Bruce Chen, Danny Duffy, Everett Teaford and Jose Mijares. Fielder has hit a pedestrian .257/.340/.458 against left handed pitching in his career. Decent numbers for sure, but a far cry from what he has accomplished versus righties (.294/.411/.577).
  3. Detroit's defense should be, um, interesting. Cabrera is allegedly moving to third base where Brooks Robinson he ain't. Fielder's not winning any gold gloves either (well he might I guess, if he hits enough home runs. He's not a good defender is what I'm saying).
Bottom line is this, I think Detroit will win the division but I don't believe they'll stomp all over the Royals in the process.


  1. Good for him I guess but I think Detroit is gonna regret that contract in about 5 yrs. Wasn't his dad pretty much done by 31 or so?

  2. Cecil hit 39 home runs at age 32 but then only played two more seasons hitting a combined 30. A similar decline for Prince wouldn't be surprising.