Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Tigers 2007 Preview - Part 2 (Offense)

On Tuesday, I presented an overview of the Tiger's 2006 season and a summary of the moves made in the off-season. Today, in part 2 of my preview, I will forecast the 2007 season for the Tiger's offense. Later, I will look at fielding and pitching.

In 2006, the Tigers scored 822 runs to finish 5th in the league. This was a 99 run improvement over 2005 when the scored 723 runs. Although they played in one of the toughest parks in the league for home run hitters, most of their offense came from power. Their 203 home runs was 3rd in the league and their 122 road home runs led the circuit by a wide margin. They were 5th in the league in isolated power and slugging percentage.

The rest of their offensive attack was actually pretty weak. They finished 9th in the league with a .274 batting average but it gets worse than that. They were 13th in walks, 12th in on base percentage and 13th in fewest strike outs. Their strike out walk ratio of 2.63 was last in the league and 34% worse that the league average.

So, they had a couple of options going into the off-season. They could stay with their line-up and hope to outslug the competition again in 2007 or they could do something about their awful strike out walk ratio and inabilty to get on base. They chose the latter and acquired Gary Sheffield from the Yankees. Sheffield's lifetime .75 strike out walk ratio certainly gives the line-up a different look.

How many runs will they score next year? You might think that the acquisition of Sheffield would boost theiir run total substantially. However, they were the most efficient (or perhaps luckiest team) in the league in 2006 outscoring their runs created (806) by a larger margin than any team. They were only 7th in the league in runs created. I would not expect them to be so efficient again next year. It also needs to be remembered that they they will lose Chris Shelton's month of April and Marcus Thames' first half since they won't be regulars this year. That's a lot of power right there. I also don't know if they'll be as healthy this year as last. I'm going to guess that the addition of Sheffield allows them to remain at around 820 runs rather than add to it.

Player capsules and projections for 2007 along with 2006 statistics are presented below. I've got a capsule for each player on the projected opening day roster. A couple of players I have listed on the bench might be replaced before the season starts but Neifi Perez making the team instead of Ramon Santiago is not going to affect my forecast much so I'm not going to worry about it.

Catcher: Ivan Rodriguez

Rodriguez has declined quite a bit but still hits pretty well for a catcher and I'm expecting a similar year in 2007 to 2006. There has been talk about Pudge batting leadoff in an attempt to make him more selective. I don't know if that will work but having him bat leadoff against left-handers makes a lot of sense.

Year

G

BA

OBP

SLG

HR

2006

136

.300

.332

.437

13

2007 Projected

133

.296

.338

.430

12



First baseman: Sean Casey

Casey should do better than his .245/.286/.364 line as a Tiger but his power is gone and he's very injury prone. He needs to get off to a fast start or he'll lose at bats to Marcus Thames and/or Chris Shelton.

Year

G

BA

OBP

SLG

HR

2006

112

.272

.336

.388

8

2007 Projected

96

.282

.348

.406

9



Second baseman: Placido Polanco

Polanco battled injuries last year and dropped off a lot from his excellent 2005 season when he batted .331/.383/.447 for the Tigers and Phillies. I wouldn't expect a return to his 2005 form but look for him to rebound a little this year. I'm predicting he'll lead the team in batting and increase his power somewhat.

Year

G

BA

OBP

SLG

HR

2006

110

.295

.329

.364

4

2007 Projected

125

.307

.343

.416

8



Shortstop: Carlos Guillen

Carlos Guillen has led Major League shortstops in runs created over the last 3 years but still goes unnoticed nationally. I don't see him matching his 2006 numbers but he should have another outstanding year. He is eligible for free agency and he is going to get a hefty long term deal from somebody, hopefully the Tigers.

Year

G

BA

OBP

SLG

HR

2006

153

.320

.400

.519

19

2007 Projected

143

.305

.381

.494

17



Third base: Brandon Inge

Inge surprised just about everybody with his power last year. I don't see him reaching 27 home runs again next year but 20+ is well within his reach. I'd like to see him get on base more but will settle for the great glove and good power he showed last year.


Year

G

BA

OBP

SLG

HR

2006

159

.253

.313

.463

27

2007 Projected

156

.255

.315

.438

21



Left field: Craig Monroe

Monroe was his usual streaky self getting off to a slow start and then pounding the ball in the summer. I think we'll see more of the same this year. He has decent power and seems to hit more clutch home runs than any Tiger but does not make enough contact or get on base enough for a corner outfielder.

Year

G

BA

OBP

SLG

HR

2006

147

.255

.301

.482

28

2007 Projected

139

.266

.315

.463

23



Center field: Curtis Granderson

Granderson was another streaky Tiger last year starting off fast and struggling in the second half. He needs to cut down his league leading strike out total because he won't get as many walks if pitchers see him as an easy strike out. I believe he will improve his numbers across the board this year.


Year

G

BA

OBP

SLG

HR

2006

159

.260

.335

.438

19

2007 Projected

156

.274

.350

.461

23



Right field: Magglio Ordonez

Ordonez had an excellent first half and then had a bit of a power shortage in the second half last year. He doesn't have quite as much power as he used to but he's still a solid hitter. There is some thought that he will improve this year because Sheffield will take pressure off him. That's possible but I'm predicting similar numbers this year.


Year

G

BA

OBP

SLG

HR

2006

155

.298

.350

.477

24

2007 Projected

145

.296

.355

.468

23



Designated hitter: Gary Sheffield

Sheffield missed most of last year with a wrist injury. He is supposedly healthy and, if so, I think he'll get back to his 2005 level. His plate discipline alone should make him a big addition to the line-up.


Year

G

BA

OBP

SLG

HR

2006

39

.298

.355

.450

6

2007 Projected

145

.297

.376

.492

29




Backup First baseman/Outfielder: Marcus Thames

Thames finished in the top 5 in the league in isolated power last year but finds himself on the bench again this year. He'll be backing up Casey at first but he has a good chance of playing more regularly if Casey gets hurt or struggles.

Year

G

BA

OBP

SLG

HR

2006

110

.256

.333

.549

26

2007 Projected

96

.254

.330

.494

21




Backup Catcher: Vance Wilson

Wilson hit much better in 2006 than in 2005. I expect him to fall somewhere in between in 2007.


Year

G

BA

OBP

SLG

HR

2006

56

.283

.304

.441

5

2007 Projected

55

.255

.293

.390

4



Backup Infielder/Outfielder: Omar Infante

Infante will likely play a variety of positions this year. His versatility and surprise power makes him a valuable sub. He is still just 25 and may have a future as a starter for the Tigers or some other team.

Year

G

BA

OBP

SLG

HR

2006

78

.277

.325

.415

4

2007 Projected

85

.263

.320

.420

7



Backup Infielder: Ramon Santiago

Santiago is the prototypical good field no hit shortstop. He continues to battle with Neifi Perez for the backup middle infielder job.


Year

G

BA

OBP

SLG

HR

2006

43

.225

.244

.263

0

2007 Projected

50

.229

.298

.305

2

3 comments:

  1. Lee, seeing your past support, I hope this is ok, as I'm conducting a community forecast project:
    http://www.tangotiger.net/community/

    I've only got THREE Tigers fans, whereas the average team has 22.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Tom, I just posted something on motownsports telling them about it. That should get you a lot more people.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great, that did it! Got 6 more already, so I'm looking forward to seeing other Tiger fans.

    ReplyDelete

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