Weekend Extended; Tigers Sweep.


A great Mother's Day weekend has been extended as I decided to stick around with the family for a few more days. That said, I still wanted to jump on and drop a few notes. I was very pleased to see the Detroit Tigers sweep the Cleveland Indians. As the Detroit Tigers Weblog breaks down, it wasn't the prettiest of series sweeps, but the Tigers took care of business nonetheless. Meanwhile, the Detroit Free Press points out how the little plays, particularly a fielding effort by Vance Wilson, were instrumental to the dismantling of the Tribe.

Another key has to be how the Tigers were able to shutout catcher Victor Martinez, holding him to an 0-for-12 weekend. Only Milwaukee's Damian Miller has a higher VORP for catchers in all of baseball. Martinez has been one of the best hitters in all of baseball so far this season hitting .319/.378/.504.

One point of contention by DTW was that the Tigers might be the benefactors of some luck regarding when they are playing teams. Here is what they said:

They faced the Rangers without their best pitchers, they faced the Twins when they were struggling, they faced the Athletics when they weren’t hitting, and they faced the Indians when nothing was going right for them.

Let me make it clear that I am not trying to slam DTW under any circumstance. I love the site and read it daily. That said, I cannot agree with the idea that the Tigers are simply catching teams at the right time. The Rangers did have their best pitchers against the Tigers, the Twins have been struggling all year long, not just when they face the Tigers, and the A's are hitting .243 (13th in AL)/.327 (10th)/.408 (9th) meaning they have not hit anyone as opposed to the Tigers catching them in a slump.

Against the Rangers, R.A. Dickey was the only weak pitcher faced. The Tigers rocked John Koronka and Kevin Millwood, but that is more credit to Detroit as the Rangers consider them two of their best pitchers. Koronka has been a pleasant surprise for the Rangers and holds the 14th best VORP in the American League for pitchers. Millwood has an inflated earned run average (5.31), but he holds the team's 4th best VORP for pitchers and a ridiculously high BABIP at .346. A 3:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio says he's pitching better than his ERA suggests.

Five and four game winning streaks in the 2nd weeks of April and May, respectively, are the only thing keeping the Twins ahead of the Kansas City Royals for the Central cellar. Outside of the league's best pitcher, Johan Santana, the pitching staff has been absolutely brutal. Luis Castillo (.835) and Joe Mauer (.806) are the only two hitters an OPS over .800. They seem to be righting the ship at least somewhat in May as they are finally playing Michael Cuddyer and two of their best hitters, Torii Hunter and Justin Morneau, are really starting to click at the plate. That said, their four highest May ERAs belong to their non-Santana starters, Jesse Crain still hasn't gotten things on track (6.75 ERA, 1.73 WHIP) despite a giant spike in strikeouts (up to 9.35 per nine from 2.82 in 2005), and the 53 home runs allowed is third worst in all of baseball. Are the Twins struggling as they face the Tigers or does facing the Tigers cause the Twins to continue and heighten their struggles? So far this season, I believe more in the latter.

Eric Chavez and Nick Swisher have been crushing the ball so far this season for Oakland, but beyond that, the team has not been able to hit their way out of a paper bag. After Chavez and Swisher, no regular player carries an OPS above .780. With two strong pieces in their lineup, they have been able to keep themselves from the cellar of league OPS, but with 7/9ths of the lineup producing very little all season, I don't think it's fair to say that the Tigers caught them when they weren't hitting.

As a Tigers-based blog, I know that DTW is not trying to tear down what the Tigers have done so far. Rather, they are keeping things in perspective to temper expectations, which I can appreciate, but I think that the first month and a half of play is sustainable as opposed to a matter of circumstance mixed with some key performances.

The Tigers return home for six straight, including an interleague opener against another surprise team in the Cincinnati Reds this weekend. The Reds are one of the two teams allowing more home runs (Toronto being the other) than the Minnesota Twins. Being that the Twins are the other team coming into town this week, it could be bombs away at Comerica Park this week.


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