Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Detroit Tiger Preview - Part 2 (The Offense)

On Tuesday, I gave an overview of the Tiger’s 2005 season and a summary of the moves made in the off-season. Today, in Part 2 of my preview, I will forecast the 2006 season for the Tiger’s offense. Later, I will look at pitching and defense.



Last year, the Tigers finished 11th in the league with 723 runs scored. They ranked 4th in batting, 7th in homeruns (and in isolated power) but last in walks and 12th in OBP. This year, assuming a significant amount of DL time but not as much as last year, I think they will remain near the top of the league in batting average and add about 15-20 home runs. Although, they will continue to have some trouble getting walks, I think they will finish closer to the middle of the league in OBP. This should translate into about 50-60 more runs than last year. They won’t be an elite offensive team but they will not finish 11th in the league in runs either. In fact, they should be above average offensively.



Player capsules and projections for 2006 along with 2005 statistics are presented below. I’ve got a capsule for each player on the projected opening day roster. A couple of the players I have listed on the bench might be replaced before the season starts but Ramon Santiago making the team instead of Nook Logan (or any other similar move) is not going to affect my forecast much so I’m not going to worry about that.


Catcher: Ivan Rodriguez

A much slimmer Rodriguez experienced more than the typical decline of a 33 year old catcher last in 2005. His OBP dropped 93 points from 2004 with the biggest culprit being his astoundingly low 11 walks. He needs to do better than that in 2006 and I think he will. I’m not expecting a return to his pre-2005 form but I do expect somewhat of a rebound.


Year

G

BA

OBP

SLG

HR

2005

129

.276

.290

.444

14

2006 Projected

125

.289

.328

.456

15


First baseman: Chris Shelton



Shelton tailed off after a tremendous start last year but I don’t think his hot hitting was a fluke. He has hit everywhere he has played and I think he can repeat his final numbers in 2005 over a full season. I expect him to lead the team in both OBP and slugging this year.


Year

G

BA

OBP

SLG

HR

2005

107

.299

.360

.510

18

2006 Projected

150

.305

.372

.500

25


Second baseman: Placido Polanco


Polanco had his best season in 2005 finishing second in the majors in batting average. I don’t think he will repeat that performance but I expect another solid year in 2006. That Polanco for Urbina trade is looking pretty good right now!


Year

G

BA

OBP

SLG

HR

2005

129

.331

.383

.447

9

2006 Projected

143

.309

.360

.438

10


Shortstop: Carlos Guillen


Guillen’s 2004 season was close to MVP caliber until he hurt his knee in September. He never fully recovered from the injury last year and managed to play only 87 games. He’s never been a 150 game player but early indications are that he’s fully recovered this year and should be able to play in a lot more games. I think it would be a little too much wishful thinking to expect him to match his 2004 numbers but he should be one of their best hitters again in 2006.


Year

G

BA

OBP

SLG

HR

2005

87

.320

.368

.434

5

2006 Projected

130

.300

.364

.448

12


Third baseman: Brandon Inge



The enigmatic Inge started out strong last year but had a miserable second half. Some see the second half as a return to his old ways prior to 2004 but I think it might have something to do with his wearing down in his first truly full season. After all, he accumulated over 200 plate appearances more than he’s ever had. I think the 2006 version of Inge will fall somewhere between the two extremes of 2005.


Year

G

BA

OBP

SLG

HR

2005

160

.261

.330

.419

16

2006 Projected

142

.268

.328

.414

14


Left fielder: Craig Monroe


Monroe, one of the few durable Tigers last year, had his first 150 game season. Some people are expecting significant improvement from Monroe next year but I believe he has peaked and that we can expect the same kind of season next year. His numbers would probably be a little better if he was benched against more right-handers but the Tigers probably don’t have that luxury.


Year

G

BA

OBP

SLG

HR

2005

157

.277

.322

.446

20

2006 Projected

149

.280

.325

.462

20


Center fielder: Curtis Granderson


Granderson hit well in his late season call-up in 2005 and I think that is a preview of things to come. He did not walk as much as I’d like but his minor league track record suggests that getting on base should not be a problem in the future. Granderson is one of my favorite young Tigers in many years and I expect him to be a solid all around player for a long time.


Year

G

BA

OBP

SLG

HR

2005

47

.272

.314

.494

8

2006 Projected

148

.286

.347

.460

20


Right fielder: Magglio Ordonez


After missing most of 2004 with a serious knee injury, Ordonez missed the first half of 2005 with a hernia. He should be healthy again in 2006 and will likely be one of the team’s best hitters. However, he’s getting older and he’s been banged up quite a bit so I don’t expect him to be quite the same hitter he was three years ago.


Year

G

BA

OBP

SLG

HR

2005

82

.302

.359

.436

8

2006 Projected

138

.298

.362

.490

23


Designated hitter: Dmitri Young



Various injuries and weight problems seem to have reduced Young to an average hitting designated hitter. Young lost some weight in the off season and there is hope that he’ll be heathier and more versatile in 2006. However, he’s 32 years old, and a big guy with a history of muscle pulls and other various injuries. I’m afraid I’m not that optimistic about him staying healthy and having a big rebound year.


Year

G

BA

OBP

SLG

HR

2005

126

.271

.325

.471

21

2006 Projected

110

.265

.326

.452

15


Backup Catcher: Vance Wilson

Wilson can’t be as bad as last year and I don’t think he will be.


Year

G

BA

OBP

SLG

HR

2005

61

.197

.275

.283

3

2006 Projected

67

.235

.297

.348

4


Backup Infielder: Omar Infante

Infante will probably play the supersub role and I believe he’ll hit better this year. I think he’ll come closer to his 2004 numbers than his 2005 numbers.



Year

G

BA

OBP

SLG

HR

2005

121

.222

.254

.367

9

2006 Projected

120

.256

.305

.410

11


Backup Outfielder: Nook Logan

With Granderson taking over in center field, Logan’s role will be reduced to pinch runner, defensive replacement and spot starter.


Year

G

BA

OBP

SLG

HR

2005

129

.262

.305

.335

1

2006 Projected

65

.255

.306

.332

0


Backup first baseman/designated hitter:Carlos Pena



We all know how streaky Pena can be but I think they need his left-handed bat off the bench. I believe he’ll settle into a reduced role against right-handers and be more valuable as a part-timer.


Year

G

BA

OBP

SLG

HR

2005

79

.235

.325

.477

18

2006 Projected

85

.245

.335

.465

17

8 comments:

  1. I realize 12 HR's for Guilen would be his second best career total. But, if he's healthy, I think he's more of a 16-20 guy.

    I think "pretty good" trade for Poalnco is much too mild. That was the steal of the year.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Vince, I agree the trade was a steal. I used the phrase "pretty good" for effect. I guess it didn't work. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Tiger-Hope from DTCMarch 23, 2006

    All of your predictions seem pretty spot on to me-- I think maggs will definately be closer to his 2003 numbers- Your Shelton numbers are along the lines of what I was thinking as well- I just wonder where Leyland will bat him in the order-- Cause with his control he could easliy knock in a 100 this season- Leyland has said his line-up will change from day to day so we'll see- But, shelton definately needs to be close to the clean-up spot with Maggs--

    ReplyDelete
  5. Excellent job Lee.

    50-60 more runs. I wonder how much of difference that will make in terms of winning close games instead of losing close games. Being able to win more of those than they lose will be a huge key to the season.

    How much of a difference will those runs mean to pitchers who didn't always get a lot of run support last year?

    There's no doubt that the key guys in the lineup HAVE TO stay healthier this year!

    I think Shelton will be solid. I think Granderson will be a fun player to watch.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I also worry that what we saw out of Monroe last year is going to be as good as we get. I agree that he probably peaked last year.

    With a guy like Clevlen waiting in the wings (in a year or so), I'm not sure Monroe is really much of a long term answer anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Regarding Monroe, there's been some talk that his swing has been reworked. His swing has always seemed slow and a little too effortless to me. I am intrigued to see how his swing has been altered and whether or not it yields better results.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Lots of comments today. Thanks.

    I'd love to see Monroe improve this year. He's been a pretty good stop gap but I suspect this might be his last year with the Tigers. He'll start to get expensive soon and they really seem to be impressed with Clevlen. Clevlen is another interesting player to watch this year.

    ReplyDelete

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