Monday, October 09, 2006

Sporting types and Panthera tigris

Have you had enough of the shrill ARod/Torre/Yankees drama? Do you wish to read about anything else in the world? Do you like hacky, poorly-thought-out articles that everyone and their mother has already done better? Then you've come to the right place. In honor of the actual baseball games being played tomorrow by actual people, I present to you my pedestrian and most likely wrong ALCS Preview.

I am grading 5 things - lineups, rotation, bullpen, bench and defense. For bullpen, bench and defense, I'm looking at overall strength. For rotation, I'm going to compare the pitchers who are scheduled to match up against one another. And for lineup, I'm doing a comparison based on spot in the batting order (with some fudging, so the players match up well) rather than position. I think this is a more informative way to compare - because of it, I won't be using VORP for position players (since it's position dependent). And away we go.

Lineups (numbers are AVG/OBP/SLG, plus stolen bases and caught stealing)

Leading off -
Det - CF Curtis Granderson, .260/.335/.438. 8 SB, 5 CS.
Oak - C Jason Kendall, .295/.367/.342. 11 SB, 5 CS.
I'll take Granderson's power over Kendall's on-base ability - 1 home run is just not cutting it, and that OBP is too batting average dependent. Advantage Detroit.

Hitting second -
Det - 2B Placido Polanco, .295/.329/.364. 1 SB, 2 CS.
Oak - CF Mark Kotsay, .295/.332/.386. 6 SB, 3 CS.
Statistically, there's no difference here. As far as I can tell, these are the exact same person. Draw.

Batting third -
Det - 1B Sean Casey, .273/.336/.388 (season total). 0 SB, 1 CS.
Oak - RF Milton Bradley, .276/.370/.447. 10 SB, 2 CS.
This is an easy pick, especially when you consider the fact that Casey's numbers have gone down since he moved from Pittsburgh to Detroit. Advantage Oakland.

Batting fourth -
Det - RF Magglio Ordonez, .298/.350/.477. 1 SB, 4 CS.
Oak - 3B Eric Chavez, .241/.351/.435. 3 SB, 0 CS.
Another easy choice. Magglio is better pretty much across the board, and he has cooler hair. Advantage Oakland.

Batting fifth -
Det - SS Carlos Guillen, .320/.400/.519. 20 SB, 9 CS.
Oak - DH Frank Thomas, .270/.381/.545. 0 SB, 0 CS.
This was a tough one - Guillen has the advantage in OBP and is obviously better on the basepaths. In the end, I think Thomas's ability to hit the home run outweighs Guillen's advantages, and Thomas is no slouch in the OBP department either. Advantage Oakland.

Batting sixth -
Det - C Ivan Rodriguez, .300/.332/.437. 8 SB, 3 CS.
Oak - LF Jay Payton, .296/.325/.418. 8 SB, 4 CS.
Another easy one. Pudge is better across the board. Advantage Detroit.

Batting seventh -
Det - LF Craig Monroe, .255/.301/.482. 2 SB, 2 CS.
Oak - 1B Nick Swisher, .254/.372/.493. 1 SB, 2 CS.
The battle of low-average, good power guys. Swisher gets on base, Monroe doesn't. Advantage Oakland.

Batting eighth -
Det - DH Marcus Thames, .256/.333/.549. 1 SB, 1 CS.
Oak - SS Marco Scutaro, .266/.350/.397. 5 SB, 1 CS.
Pretty much the same as the leadoff matchup - Scutaro's advantage in OBP is offset by Thames' ability to hit the long ball. Only in this case, the ability blows Scutaro out of the water. Advantage Detroit.

Batting ninth -
Det - 3B Brandon Inge, .253/.313/.463. 7 SB, 4 CS.
Oak - 2B Mark Ellis, .249/.319/.385. 4 SB, 0 CS (note: this will probably be a platoon with Ellis and D'Angelo Jimenez. But Ellis's numbers are more competitive, so I used him.)
Yet ANOTHER low-OBP masher for Detroit vs.....well, in this case, not much of anything for Oakland. Advantage Detroit.

So, my scorecard has 4 for Detroit, 4 for Oakland and one draw. Technically a draw, but I believe that the bottom of Detroit's batting order is so much better than the bottom of Oakland's that they end up coming out ahead. So I'm giving it a slight advantage for Detroit.

Bench - The key players for Detroit are Omar Infante and Vance Wilson, with Alexis Gomez and the awful Neifi Perez and Ramon Santiago also available. Oakland's ace-in-the-hole is Bobby Kielty. Dan Johnson is a decent option, Adam Melhuse is doing the backup catching duties, and D'Angelo Jimenez and Hiram Bocachica are taking up roster space. The difference here is that Infante and Wilson are both good, whereas Oakland only has Kielty. Advantage Detroit.

Rotations (the numbers here are, in order, BB/9, K/9, HR/9, ERA and VORP)

1) Det - Nate Robertson, 2.89/5.91/1.25/3.84/42.0
Oak - Barry Zito, 4.03/6.15/1.10/3.83/51.0
This one is real close. I'm giving the advantage to Zito - he's had control problems but his home run and strikeout numbers are better than Robertson, and I'll give him a slight nudge for his postseason track record. Advantage Oakland.

2) Det - Justin Verlander, 2.90/6.00/1.02/3.63/47.0
Oak - Esteban Loaiza, 2.33/5.64/0.99/4.89/12.7
Don't let Loaiza's ERA fool you - he was tremendously hit-unlucky this year, and his peripherals track well. I'll give Verlander the slight edge, but this is closer than you think. Advantage Detroit.

3) Det - Kenny Rogers, 2.74/4.37/1.01/3.84/39.8
Oak - Danny Haren, 1.82/7.10/1.25/4.12/42.5
Kenny Rogers is a fraud. Haren tracks better in just about every way except ERA (yes, Rogers has better HR/9 numbers). Rogers strikes out less guys and walks more. This matchup definitely leans towards the A's. Advantage Oakland.

4) Det - Jeremy Bonderman, 2.69/8.50/0.76/4.08/39.2
Oak - Rich Harden, 5.01/9.45/0.96/4.24/9.5
This is actually probably the most intriguing matchup, and it's a shame it's the game 4 one. Harden didn't pitch enough this year to make an accurate assessment, but when he did he struck a lot of guys out and walked a lot. Even if he's 100%, Bonderman's peripherals are better - he walked a lot less guys, struck out almost as many, and had obscenely low home run numbers. Advantage Detroit.

This one I have to call a draw. I trust Detroit's rotation more than Oakland's in a long series, and I think that if the matchups were switched around Detroit might have wiped the floor with them. But they're not, and as such I have it 2-2.

Detroit is going with Jason Grilli, Todd Jones, Wilfredo Ledezma, Zach Miner, Fernando Rodney, Jamie Walker and Joel Zumaya. Zumaya's a strikeout machine, but also walks a lot of guys. Jones is his opposite; he doesn't walk anyone, and doesn't strike anyone out. The rest of the guys are a mixed bag, but overall Detroit's bullpen is a low strikeout, low walk type.

Oakland has Kiko Calero, Justin Duchscherer, Chad Gaudin, Joe Kennedy, Kirk Saarloos and Houston Street. Street and Duchscherer are probably the two best relievers in this series. Oakland's bullpen is the opposite of Detroit's - high strikeout, high walk. The difference is that Oakland's bullpen has freakishly low home run rates, whereas Detroit's are just low.

These are two very good bullpens. But Oakland has the two best bullpen pitchers on their side, and are able to dig deeper into their pen for quality pitchers. Advantage Oakland.


Real simple. Detroit had a 0.712 defensive efficiency (the rate at which balls in play are converted to outs), good for 1st in the AL. Oakland's was 0.694, good for 7th in the AL. Oakland has prided itself over the last few years in being a good defensive ballclub, but Detroit is better. Advantage Detroit.

So I have:
Lineup - Slight advantage Detroit.
Bench - Advantage Detroit.
Rotation - Draw.
Bullpen - Advantage Oakland.
Defense - Advantage Detroit.

I came into this thinking Oakland was the better team in terms of talent level, but I have to concede that Detroit is probably better. Oakland's biggest advantage is in the bullpen, and Detroit's is the bottom of the lineup and the bench. The A's best chance to win this series lies in doing the old A's thing of taking a lot of pitches and working their way into the underbelly of the Tigers' bullpen. Detroit is better off jumping on the Oakland starters and getting them for runs early. I thought about picking Detroit in 5 but I'm pussing out and going with Detroit in 6.


Blogger David Bowie said...

My admittedly biased scouting report on the Tigers is that their pitchers throw first-pitch strikes in every at-bat, which nullified the Yankees OBP advantage and should do the same for Oakland.

And yes, I decided to hold off on my promised "Yankee Eugoogoly" after reading too many poorly thought out and written ones.

Tue Oct 10, 12:09:00 PM EDT  
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Sun Aug 01, 06:37:00 AM EDT  

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