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Detroit Tigers Links: Spring training is just around the corner

Help us, Punxsutawney Phil.

MLB: Spring Training-Toronto Blue Jays at Detroit Tigers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Select members of the community of groundhogs (Marmota monax), also known as the common woodchuck, will today, in small towns around the country, be forced into a strange ritual of divination upon which, the length of the offseason winter season, will supposedly depend. We’ve endured four months now without sweet, sweet baseball, and the most boring offseason in recent memory. I’m willing to try anything to get to spring as soon as possible.

But we’re getting there. The Tigers began shipping equipment to Lakeland this week. Justin Verlander is already in Florida. We’re getting close to baseball activity at least.

My newest ride. Got a great deal from some crazy doc. #delorean #backtothefuture #universalstudios

A photo posted by Justin Verlander (@justinverlander) on

Every breath you take

Wearable tech for athletes has been a booming market in recent years. As baseball teams’ search for the next competitive edge turns toward biofeedback and advanced training aids, the desire to monitor players in every way is rubbing up against the players right to privacy. Rian Watt of Vice Sports reports on the coming conflicts between teams, tech, and the players.

The Tigers just can’t run

Yes the Tigers have had good offenses in recent years, but we all know the Tigers’ baserunning has been lousy for a long time. Almost heroically so. The Tigers sneer at baserunning and defy it to stop them. Jeff Sullivan broke the whole thing down over at FanGraphs. Dingers make up for a lot, it seems.

Felix v. Verlander

Jonathan Bernhardt at FanRag Sports takes a look at the similarities in career path between Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez. Both cut their teeth in 2005, and between them you have two of the best and most durable starters of their era. Bernhardt takes a look at their career trajectories and Hall of Fame chances. Anything can happen in baseball, but we’re going to give a clear nod to Verlander on that one.

Pod likes Castellanos

Mike Podhorzer, who runs the Pod projection system over at FanFraphs, posted a short article on 2016 home run surges from players which were most likely to continue this season. Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos was rated among them. Podhorzer breaks down his methodology in some detail — personally, I saw letters in places of numbers and passed out — but the gist is that Castellanos’ growing power is legit and shows every sign of increasing.

Understanding Pitch Tunnels

In recent weeks, Baseball Prospectus has rolled out a whole new set of concepts in understanding pitching. For example, they’ve flipped catching framing on its head, using it to measure pitchers based on how their control compares to others pitching to the same catcher. But the really interesting stuff is the idea of pitch tunnels. Evan Davis over at Beyond the Box Score introduces it through the lens of Clayton Kershaw. Essentially, it’s an attempt to measure how well a pitcher disguises their pitches, and how long their repertoire of pitches look indistinguishable to the hitter on the way to the plate.

Veteran players without a home

Pitchers and catchers will thankfully report in under two weeks now. Yet it’s surprising how many legitimate major league caliber players remain unsigned and quite possibly unwanted. Ryan Romano at Beyond the Box Score takes a look at the cases of Chase Utley and Angel Pagan. Meanwhile a host of somewhat soft-tossing pitchers are available, and no one cares. Rumors about the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers were swirling around first baseman Chris Carter until recently, but now, a hitter who clubbed 42 home runs in 2016 may be taking his talents to Japan.

Baseball is awesome

In tribute to the classic 90s movie, Groundhog Day, let’s enjoy an inning none of us would mind repeating over and over.