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The Tigers were more consistent than you think in 2016

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Well, the offense was. The pitching? Not so much.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Indians Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Over the course of a 162 (or 161) game season, both players and teams experience ups and downs. Whether it be due to injuries, opposing teams, hot streaks, or slumps, baseball teams go through stretches of varying production. At the end of the year, these factors more or less even out and sample sizes become large enough to make reasonable assessments. But only looking at raw totals does not tell the whole story.

Year-long statistics can identify facts like which team hit the most home runs and which pitching staffs recorded the most strikeouts, but these figures give no insight into when and how these numbers came about. Ideally, teams would have a somewhat even distribution of their production, providing a similar output on as the season goes on. While this is nearly impossible, some teams are much closer to achieving this than others.

Methodology

Measuring consistency can be done in many ways, but I took a general approach that paints a decent picture of the 2016 season. I looked at each team’s production in four hitting and four pitching metrics each month and compared them to their production in the other months. I then took the standard deviation in each of these categories and ranked the deviations from smallest to largest, first to 30th. I then took the average ranking for each team to come up with a final consistency ranking.

I also measured each team’s raw performance across these eight metrics and performed the same approach, ranking from first to 30th and then taking the average of each rank. This process may seem a little complicated, but the graphs below will make it easier to visualize.

The Tigers offense was quite consistent

Month R HR AVG wRC+
Apr 109 29 .264 100
May 121 38 .258 100
Jun 154 37 .288 117
Jul 119 35 .255 96
Aug 114 35 .262 103
Sep 133 37 .272 113

While it felt like the Tigers offense was very volatile at times, the numbers wound up being fairly stable. The run production showed some peaks and valleys, but it was mostly for the better; just four teams had a lower minimum than Detroit’s April. The batting average also moved a bit month to month, but it always stayed fairly close to the season average of .267. After the first month of the season the Tigers were remarkably close to a constant home run total, and their wRC+ did not stray greatly from their overall 105 mark.

The Tigers were one of the top five most consistent teams in homers and wRC+ and among the top 10 in batting average and runs scored. The average of these ranks made them the fourth-most consistent offense in all of baseball. Just as importantly, the Tigers were a top-three offense in the raw output of these categories, ranking 11th in runs, eighth in homers, third in average, and fourth in wRC+. This combination puts the Tigers in the lower-left quadrant of the graph above, which highlights Detroit’s productive and consistent offense.

The Tigers pitching had its ups and downs

Month ERA WHIP K-BB% FIP
Apr 3.69 1.39 9.9 3.93
May 5.43 1.42 12.7 4.73
Jun 4.56 1.35 10.6 4.02
Jul 3.56 1.24 13.7 3.68
Aug 3.64 1.18 13.9 4.35
Sep 4.46 1.33 15.3 4.15

The 2016 season had many bright spots when it came to Tigers pitching, but many of those performances were ultimately weighed down by a myriad of complete deficiencies. The consistency numbers reflect this much, as the monthly figures could not lock in on the overall totals. The Tigers owned a 4.24 ERA and 1.32 WIP for the season, but these figures are merely averages of some great months and some very poor ones. The pitching staff did stay a little closer to the final 12.7 percent K-BB% and 4.15 FIP during the season, but still showed a decent amount of variability.

The Tigers were basically average when it came to pitching consistency. They ranked between 15th and 18th in ERA, FIP, and K-BB%, although they were in the top 10 in WHIP. However, the raw numbers were not as favorable. Detroit ranked just 20th in ERA, 14th in WHIP, 15th in K-BB%, and 12th in FIP. When a pitching staff has poor overall numbers, inconsistency is not always a bad thing. However, the Tigers ranked just 22nd in raw output and 15th in consistency.

As a whole, the Tigers had some great pitching performances and some very poor ones, which affected their consistency. Additionally, the bad performances outweighed the good, which is why the ended up as a bottom-10 pitching staff.