Monday, June 02, 2008

Line-up imbalance

It is well known that the Tigers have a very right-handed dominated line-up. The only regulars who bat left-handed are Curtis Granderson and switch hitting Carlos Guillen. They have made a number of moves to get more left-handed including the acquisition of Jacque Jones during the off-season. Jones didn't work out so they have dipped into the minors for Clete Thomas, Matt Joyce and most recently Jeff Larish. The early season injury to Granderson did not help matters.

How much of a problem is this imbalance? Looking at Table 1 below, we can see that they hit for a much much better average versus left handed pitchers (.300) than right-handed pitchers (.256). They also slug much better versus southpaws (.481 vs LHP and .405 vs. RHP). Compounding the problem is the fact that opponents have recognized this trend and avoid pitching lefties against the Tigers. They have fewer plate appearances vs. LHP (351) than any team in the league (league average = 536).

Table 1: Team totals vs RHP and LHP


PA

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

Tigers vs RHP

1,806

.256

.331

.405

.735

Tigers vs. LHP

351

.300

.351

.481

.832

AL vs.RHP

1,645

.259

.328

.402

.731

AL vs. LHP

536

.261

.330

.398

.719



Table 2 below shows that several Tigers are doing substantially worse versus right-handers than left-handers: Placido Polanco (.698 OPS vs RHP and .910 OPS vs. LHP), Guillen (.813 and .911), Edgar Renteria (.603 and 1.138), Ivan Rodriguez (.630 and .748) and Marcus Thames (.524 and 1.256). Two players - Magglio Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera are doing equally as well versus RHP and LHP. Gary Sheffield and Brandon Inge have both hit RHP better than LHP but neither is doing particularly well against any kind of pitcher.

So, the line-up imbalance has been a significant problem and it's not likely to go away any time soon. I think we will continue to see the Tigers face an inordinate number of right-handed pitchers and probably suffer because of it. One key player who can make a difference is Granderson who is off to a slow start after his injury. After posting a 1.014 OPS versus righties in 2007, he is hitting just .783 this year. Another is the right-handed hitting Cabrera who hit .910 versus RHP last year as opposed to .824 this year. Other than that, we can probably expect to see Thomas, Joyce, Larish and probably some others shuttled between Detroit and Toledo throughout the year.


Table 2: Individuals versus RHP and LHP

Player

vs RHP

vs LHP


PA

OPS

PA

OPS

Granderson*

138

.783

9

.444

Polanco

173

.698

39

.910

Sheffield

132

.719

31

.499

Ordonez

198

.929

37

.897

Cabrera

199

.824

36

.818

Guillen#

176

.813

33

.911

Renteria

175

.603

34

1.138

Rodriguez

151

.630

38

.748

Inge

117

.774

27

.442

Thames

53

.524

30

1.256

Jones*

86

.429

15

.067

Thomas*

60

.615

7

.571

Joyce*

57

.810

2

.000

* Bats left-handed
# Switch hitter

2 comments:

  1. Very depressing, Lee. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow, Renteria's split is amazing.

    ReplyDelete

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