Sunday, September 25, 2011

Statistical Titles on the Line

Most of the attention regarding individual Tigers achievements has been focused on ace starter Justin Verlander.  It's well known that he has a great chance to win the traditional pitching triple crown.  He leads in Wins with 24 (not really an individual category but one which is getting a lot of ink regardless) and strikeouts (250).  He also narrowly leads Angels right hander Jered Weaver in ERA 2.40 to 2.41, but Weaver has one game to go.  In addition, Verlander leads in games started (34), innings pitched (251) and WHIP (0.92).

Verlander is not the only one racking up great stats for the Tigers though.  Closer Jose Valverde leads with 47 saves without a blown save and 72 appearances.  I doubt that Valverde will come close to winning an MVP, but note that one of the most important stated qualifications for the MVP is "games played". 

There is a lot happening on the offensive side as well.  Miguel Cabrera raised his batting average to .341 today to take the lead in the race for the coveted batting title.  He has two competitors close on his heels as we enter the final three days of the season: Michael Young of the Rangers (.338) and Adrian Gonzalez of the Red Sox (.337).

The Tigers slugging first baseman is also just percentage points away from the lead in on base percentage.  You need to go four decimal places to determine that Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays leads him .4770 to .4766. 

As of yesterday, Bautista and Cabrera were tied at 67 in Batting Runs, one of my favorite statistical categories.  This means that both hitters have contributed an estimated 67 runs beyond what an average hitter would have contributed in the same number of plate appearances.  In my eyes, this makes Cabrera a solid MVP candidate.

Another category which may get Cabrera some MVP votes is games played.  He is currently tied with Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki with 158 games played.  As mentioned above, games played is a MVP criterion which is clearly presented to voters.

In a somewhat less significant category, Cabrera is tied for second with 46 doubles, one behind Royals outfielder Jeff Francoeur.  Along the same lines, Austin Jackson leads the league with 11 triples.  Peter Bourjos of the Angels and Curtis Granderson of the Yankees are tied for second with 10.

The most important thing to follow over the last few days is whether the Tigers can beat out the Rangers for home field advantage.  However, the individual races listed above will be of interest as well. 

Statistics for this post were abstracted from Baseball-Reference.

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