Spring Roundup

A week ago I tweeted (@optimisttiger) that the Detroit Tigers had started the spring 6-0.

And a week later, they have lost 1 game (12-1). The biggest reason? The 8 pitchers who could be considered starters for the 2012 season have a combined ERA of 2.35. Some notables:

  • Andy Oliver - 0.00 ERA. 9 IP, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K. Opponents are batting .071 off this lefty.
  • Justin Verlander - 0.93 ERA. 9.2 IP, 1 ER, 1 BB, 13 K. Could he possibly be on track to avoiding another rough April?
  • Doug Fister – 1.00 ERA. 9 IP, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K. Beginning right where he left off. Poised for a huge year.
  • Drew Smyly - 1.13 ERA. 8 IP, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K. The 22 year old is having a fine spring and may be a dark horse for the 5th spot.
  • Rick Porcello - 1.80 ERA. 10 IP, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K. Hopefully there is less pressure on him starting the year, having a similar type of pitcher in the rotation in Fister who he can work with.

You’ll notice that in those 45.2 innings, only 10 walks have been given up combined by these pitchers. Max Scherzer is pitching less remarkable so far (3.38 ERA, 8 IP, 3 ER, 5 BB) but still solid for it being March.

Also of note, a player who we might see at some point in the Tigers bullpen and was signed mid-December is Chris Bootcheck. He has appeared in 5 games with 5 IP, 0.oo ERA, 1 BB and 4 K. I like a trusty reliever out of the pen who keeps runners off the bases. I will be keeping an eye out on him.

All of this talk about pitching, but the Tigers hitters have had some hot bats this spring, as well. Some notables:

  • Delmon Young – .519 BA. 8 R, 3 HR, 15 RBI. I know there are some questions about his defense, but it is clear the Tigers are favoring bats over covering the field this year.
  • Ryan Raburn - .458 BA. 6 R, 5 HR, 16 RBI. 5 of his 11 hits have been homers, and 5 of his 6 runs have come from those homers, which irks me. Having a good spring, but he is still a player that needs to be more consistent with his bat throughout the year.
  • Brandon Inge - .240 BA. 6 hits in 25 ABs. 2 doubles. 1 HR. I wish he would realize he is not a power guy and would try to hit more opposite field. He would be a much better all-around player.

Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder are both putting up solid springs and I did not feel the need to note their stats. They are going to be at the top of the league in nearly every major category at the end of the year, granted there are no injuries or unexpected issues. Danny Worth (.353 BA) is having a steady spring as well, and I hope that he gets a chance to stay with the team. I would much rather have him at 2B than either Raburn or Inge, but manager Jim Leyland will give both of the veterans every opportunity in the world to succeed. You cannot expect to run a player out once a week and have him perform the way he is capable of, and I don’t think Worth has been given the opportunity to perform to the best of his ability. Don Kelly (.385) and Andy Dirks (.429) are also having great spring’s so far.

One player of concern right now is centerfielder and lead off man Austin Jackson. He has a .276 average, but has struck out 11 times in 29 ABs. That is far too many yet and really needs to be corrected if he is going to continue to be a lead off hitter. Imagine what type of havoc the team could create having a lead off man get on consistently with Boesch, Cabrera, Fielder, and even Young coming up next. There is nothing to pitch around.

Again, I do not put much stake in spring training, as other teams are running out pitchers who may never see a major league mound during the regular season, and a lot of fine tuning goes into pitching and at bats, but if the spring is any indication of the year the Tigers are going to have, it should be a fun ride.

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