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The Tigers are one of MLB’s best teams in the clutch

We all know the Tigers have pulled out a lot of late wins, but now there’s a stat we can use to back it up.

Cleveand Indians v Detroit Tigers Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

You may have noticed the Detroit Tigers are a lot of fun to watch this year. Have you also noticed they seem to make games interesting in the late innings and take the lead later in games? Well there’s one particular stat they can point to and say they are the best team in baseball at.

The folks over at Baseball Reference have a virtual cornucopia of stats and splits you can dive into and sift through until your eyeballs develop carpel tunnel syndrome. As I was browsing though league statistics, I found this one interesting situational statistic in their collection of measures for “Clutch Stats”.

Among these various metrics and situational-specific stats was a measure called “Late and Close”. This is defined as “Plate Appearances in the 7th or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run at least on deck.” Looking at a breakdown of all 30 major league teams in late and close situation, our very own Tigers sit atop the list for runs scored.

Now, they also sit in the top three for number of games and plate appearances that qualify for this situation so is it possible they lead just by shear quantity of times being in this situation? Nope, a simple division of runs/plate appearances show them as third best overall.

Late And Close Team statistics, as of 5-18-18
Baseball Reference

How are they doing this exactly? Well, its hard to say. Their hitting stats (average, on base, slugging) rank them in the middle of the pack among all 30 teams in these situations. Even their batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is right around middle of the pack, so they aren’t just having a bunch of balls luckily fall in play. They are simply pushing across a lot of runs when the game is in the final innings and the score is close, and doing it with an otherwise average offense.

What this means is open to interpretation. An optimistic look might be to say the Tigers are really good at pushing across the runs needed to win when it matters, and its a testament to the influence of the new coaching style and the energy of a fired up clubhouse. That they are one of baseball’s best baserunning teams might also help. A pessimistic view might look at the supporting stats and say they are just getting very lucky and the runs will eventually stop coming in so frequently with average hitting. Both have their valid points, both can be argued ad nauseum.

Personally, I’m just enjoying the ride.


Will the Tigers continue to pull out late wins?

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  • 46%
    (316 votes)
  • 10%
    (73 votes)
  • 26%
    (175 votes)
  • 16%
    (109 votes)
673 votes total Vote Now