The Detroit Tigers are in first place, 6-½ games ahead of their nearest AL Central rival. They boast the third-best record in the major leagues. They recently swept the Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Dodgers, and just won three of four games against the Kansas City Royals. Overall, things are going well for a team that many questioned just over a month ago.
Every year at this time, clubs like to use the break in the action to analyze their season. What is going right? In what areas do they need to get better? Here is a look at the Tigers lineup and how they measure up to the 2013 Tigers, and compared to the rest of the AL.
|Year||Runs/Game||AVG||OBP||SLG||OPS||wOBA||BB%||K%||ISO||Run Scoring %||wRC+|
Offensively, the Tigers had the second most productive offense in the American League in 2013 (behind only the Boston Red Sox) so last year's team is a pretty good measuring stick. Their run production is slightly behind last year's pace, but the hits they are getting suggest that they should be right on the same pace, as indicated by their weighted runs created plus (wRC+). That 114 number shows they are well above the league average, which is calibrated at 100.
What we see in the numbers here is that the Tigers are still a very productive lineup. They lead the league in team batting average by 12 points over the Los Angeles Angels, and also lead the league in on-base percentage, slugging aveage, OPS, and wOBA.
Despite the loss of Prince Fielder and Jhonny Peralta, the Tigers lead the league with 9 percent of all plate appearances resulting in extra-base hits. The Martinez duo of Victor and J.D. has made up for any loss in the power department. The Tigers also lead the league with a .167 ISO — isolated power.
One area where the Tigers have fallen off is in the walks department, and that shows up in a lower on-base percentage. Fewer runners means fewer runs, and the Tigers are third in the league in runs scored this season. Much of that difference can also be attributed to baserunning.
In the baserunning department, the Tigers rank fifth in the league in stolen bases, although they have played fewer games than other teams. They have also been caught stealing more than any other team except the Rangers, and their stolen base percentage is just 12th of the 15 AL teams at 66 percent. When you combine on-base percentage with more hits than other teams, you get an efficient offense. The Tigers' offense is among the most efficient in the league, as they plate one third of the runners that get on base, ahead of last year's pace.
In terms of taking the extra base, the Tigers are also 12th in the league at 37 percent. This is up from 33 percent a year ago, which was dead last in the league. Ian Kinsler and Rajai Davis lead the way with 62 percent and 57 percent extra bases taken, respectively.
Overall, the Tigers' offense is just fine. They could use a few more walks, their base running leaves something to be desired, and the production from their outfield has been sporadic, at best. Despite those deficiencies, they're still scoring plenty of runs. At this point, they deserve a B+ grade. We will look at the Tigers' pitching in a separate report.