Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Defense Could Cost Tigers In Post-Season

Earlier today, I picked the Tigers to win the World Series.  It was a homer pick, but the post-season is a crap shoot, so why not the Tigers?  The Bengals certainly have their strengths - hitting and starting pitching in particular - but they also have shortcomings.  The first one that comes to mind is their bullpen and perhaps the manager's usage of it, two topics that have been beaten to death recently. However, the bullpen might not be their biggest weakness.

The table below shows the estimated runs saved/cost by fielders on each of the ten playoff teams according to Defensive Runs Saved (DRS).  The Tigers defense has cost them a whopping -64 runs compared to an average team which suggests that they could have won about six more games if they had just an average defense.  Only the Indians (-74) and Twins (-72) were worse.

The Baltimore Orioles - the Tigers first round playoff opponent - was 50 runs better than average and a stunning 114 runs better than the Tigers.  That is .70 runs per game which would translate to 3.5 runs in a five-game playoff series.  The Tigers really need to tighten their defense in this series because they can't afford to spot the Orioles three or four runs just with fielding.

If the Tigers get by the Orioles, they will still be at a big disadvantage defensively no matter who they face.  The closest team to them is the Angels with -15 DRS.  That is a 49 run difference or a third of a run per game.  The only other team that is below average is the Giants at -4.

Table: Defensive Runs Scored for Playoff Teams, 2014
St. Louis
Kansas City
Los Angeles (NL)
San Francisco
Los Angeles (AL)
Data source: Baseball-Reference.com

So, you'll probably spend the late innings fretting about the Tigers bullpen, but keep an eye on their fielding as well.  It might be the facet of the game most likely to derail their championship dreams.  


  1. Yup. Look what just happened to the A's. It'll cost ya.

    1. Yup, or also being short on power hitters is another way to lose. They were one Cespedes "MoneyHomer" away from winning that game as well.

  2. So close yet again. At least you had a team worth rooting for this year. My Red Sox were dismal, hahaha. See ya next year! Tom Ludwig (yes, that Tom Ludwig)

  3. Wow, another blast from the past! How are you doing Tom?

  4. This is so incredibly frustrating. Quite ironic that the two AL "favorites" were at the bottom of this list! Who'd have thought?! Thanks for the insights this season, Lee.


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