As I was driving home tonight, there was an interesting topic that they’ve been debating on sports talk radio the last few nights, and was also mentioned in the newspaper today, and it’s this: Small ball is overrated in Major League Baseball. Whether you agree or disagree with it, there’s certainly plenty of evidence to support either side.
For what it’s worth, I do believe that every team in Major League Baseball either does, or could benefit from implementing a few basic ‘small ball’ tactics. The phrase, ‘Get ‘em on, get ‘em over and get ‘em in’ has been heard around baseball for at least as long as I’ve been alive, and it’s for a good reason. By being able to steal bases, or advance runners with a sacrifice bunt (or fly), you are able to put yourself in a significantly easier situation to score. Sure, it’s not always quite that simple, but for a sport that has always been about increasing every possible edge, why wouldn’t you want to put your team in a better position to win?
A perfect example took place during the Tigers game today, in which the score was tied 7-7 in the bottom of the 8th inning. First, Danny Worth led the inning off with a line-drive single to right field. Then, with no outs and a runner on first, Austin Jackson came up and laid down a sacrifice bunt. By getting the sacrifice bunt down, you assume you’re putting the potential go ahead run on second base with just one out. However, as was demonstrated today, they tried to get Worth out at second, and instead Twins reliever Phil Dumatrait threw the ball in the dirt. This allowed Worth to be safe at second, and Jackson reached first on the sacrifice. Now with runners at first and second, Casper Wells laid down a bunt down the third baseline which allowed both Worth and Jackson to advance. Finally, Brennan Boesch came up and hit a lazy sacrifice fly to right field which scored Worth, which proved to be the game winning run.
Am I saying that a team only wins by playing small ball? No, but I think there is almost always a time and a place for it, especially in situations where teams are struggling offensively. Sure, there’s a reason why guys like Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols get paid millions of dollars to hit home runs, but by finding other ways to score runs, it not only takes pressure off the big bats, but it will more often than not give your team in a better chance to win.
Until next time, let the debating begin.
For those of you out there who don’t know what the Mendoza Line is, or refers to, I’ll fill you in. The Mendoza Line is from Mario Mendoza, a former major league baseball player who had a .215 career batting average. Through inflation, deflation, or whatever you want to call it, a player is said to have fallen below the Mendoza Line when their batting average has dipped below .200. By doing so, that player is said to have officially become a liability to his team, regardless of how good he may be defensively. Usually a team doesn’t have a player that hits .200 or worse on their team (unless you count pitchers, but that just seems silly) after they’ve played more than 40 games and have almost 150 at bats, let alone have them be one of their starters, but lo and behold, my beloved Detroit Tigers do!
Now, this isn’t an attack against Ryan Raburn (maybe it is even, I’m not sure), but why would a manager continue to trot someone out there as an everyday starter for you, if they are still only hitting .196 after 153 at bats? Is it because he’s a defensive specialist? As you can see here, it looks like Miguel Olivo is the only person benefiting from his defense.
All kidding aside, I don’t think Jim Leyland and the Detroit Tigers can continue to let Raburn get nearly as many starts right now, as he’s really just not helping the team win. Whether this means he needs to start platooning, become a bench player, sent to Toledo or the Tigers need to trade for a new second baseman, something needs to happen soon.
And no, I didn’t forget to mention Brandon Inge. He provides a gold-glove caliber defense, and displays great veteran leadership both on and off the field. Besides, he’s only a career .236 hitter, so you really shouldn’t expect that much out of him.
Until next time…
Hello baseball world, sorry for the delay…again. I’m trying to adjust to this new blog program, and I’m trying to make sure I know what I’m doing with it. Should be back for good now, so expect something to be posted daily from now on. With that being said, there’s obviously been a bit of baseball stuff going on, and there has been one issue in particular that I want to chime in and give my thoughts on.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve obviously heard about the unfortunate injury to Buster Posey. For those who don’t know about it, here’s the cliff notes version. There was a play at the plate, where Marlins outfielder Scott Cousins collided with Posey, as he scored the game winning run in the 12th inning of a game a few days ago.
The facts are pretty simple: 1. The play was clean. 2. Cousins could have probably avoided contact with Posey, but there’s no guarantee (although it is likely he would’ve been) that he would have been safe if he slid normally. 3. Buster Posey broke a bone in his leg, and tore three ligaments in his ankle, not from the direct contact, but rather from how his leg got tangled underneath him. In other words, it wasn’t like Cousins crashed into his legs.
Some people are calling for collisions at the plate to be out ruled, and I suppose their reasons are valid. However, I too am entitled to my opinion, and after some thought and deliberation, I disagree.
I think by changing the rules, you’re allowing the exception to become the rule. Let’s face it, in the history of baseball…there hasn’t been that many players who have had major injuries from collisions at the plate. I mean, if someone were to break their leg celebrating a walk-off home run, we shouldn’t ban celebrations, should we? Oh wait, that did happen! I know, it’s a different circumstance, but you can’t allow a situation to create a slippery slope.
Now I’m all about safety in sports, so I have a compromise. I think Major League Baseball should look into introducing potential fines or suspensions (although I’m leery about the latter), for any player who uses unnecessarily collides with a catcher who 1. Is not in possession of the ball, and/or 2. Not fielding the ball. Simply put, if the catcher doesn’t have the ball, or there’s no play, you better slide or walk in. I think this is really the only feasible middle ground between the two sides, and I’m sure many of you will disagree with me for thinking so.
Until next time, let the debating begin!
So for those of you who didn’t read my last blog (which was a while ago thanks to some new changes at mlblogs.com), I made a few predictions about things I think are likely to happen in the near future. It appears I’m going to start off 1-0, because despite hearing it officially from the Tigers, an article at blessyouboys.com revealed that the Tigers are indeed going to bring Phil Coke back to the bullpen, and call up Charlie Furbush and Andy Oliver. (link to story)
I think the move is necessary with Joaquin Benoit struggling recently, and the Tigers desperately needing late inning help out of the bullpen. Overall, I like the move, especially since Coke is the only of the three named pitchers with really any consistent experience out of the pen.
Now it’s off to Boston where hopefully the Tigers can win a tough series on the road, and put themselves in good position to gain some ground on the Cleveland Indians.
Cliff notes: Tigers are reportedly going to send Coke out of rotation into the bullpen, call up Andy Oliver and put him in the rotation, and then finally add Charlie Furbush to the bullpen as well.
The saying is old, and I do believe it has a lot of merit. However, when I look at the current Detroit Tigers roster, I can’t help but believe maybe some changes are long due. Now, this isn’t an attack on any of the players named, but rather some changes I could possibly see happen sooner rather than later. Feel free to agree or disagree.
1. Phil Coke moves to bullpen, and Tigers call up either Andy Oliver, Charlie Furbush or Jacob Turner-Let’s face it, the Tigers need help in their bullpen, and I’m not quite sure what their current thoughts are about Coke as a starter. The three minor league prospects have all been pitching well, and Coke was very valuable as a late inning relief option in 2010. The loser in this hypothetical would be Brad Thomas, as he would likely lose his roster spot.
2. Scott Sizemore getting demoted-I just really don’t see the Tigers letting him go a month hitting .230 or less. Whether this means more playing time for Santiago, Rhymes getting recalled or maybe Guillen will actually come back, I don’t know. I just don’t see us having our number one and two hitters both hitting under .230.
3. Austin Jackson either gets dropped to the 9 spot in the lineup, or goes to Toledo for a tuneup. Let’s face it, Andy Dirks is still on an offensive tear, and Jackson has still been struggling. Yes, I understand he’s getting back in the swing of things (pun intended), but if he’s hitting .240 or less at the end of May, some changes are going to have to happen.
4. Ryan Raburn gets playing time cut significantly-Leyland said he could hit, and I’m not so sure that hitting .219 with as many at bats as he’s had is what he had in mind. Take into consideration his defense isn’t top tier, and I think we either see Boesch play every day, or someone like Dirks plays more.
5. LONGSHOT ALERT! Magglio Ordonez gets his batting average up to .260 by the first week of June. Now I know we’d all like him to hit .300 for us, but if he is going to do that, he needs to start stringing together quality at bats, and with the lineup finally starting to produce, I think he in turn starts to get things going. To get the average up to .260, he basically needs 24 hits in his next 61 at bats.
Sure, there’s a few other things that could happen in the near future, but there’s my top five for now. Until then, I’ll be watching and waiting.
Greetings to those who take the time or accidentally stumbled across my blog….I know it’s been a while.
I just wanted to briefly say congrats to Justin Verlander for throwing his second no hitter for the Detroit Tigers in his relatively short career. Despite being uncomfortably situated in the backseat of a car from the fourth inning through the top on the ninth, I was able to make it home in time to watch all three outs be recorded in the bottom half. It’s always exciting to see something like this.
An interesting fact for everyone…Verlander is now the 30th pitcher in MLB history to record more than one no hitter.