by Matt Trueblood
on February 16, 2010 @ 00:00:00
Comerica Park isn't a help to any Tigers hitters, especially now that triples machine Curtis Granderson is gone. The park suppresses both home runs and doubles on flyballs and turns them into outs. On the bright side, Tigers with a modicum of speed can benefit from the park's 47 percent increase in triples rate against the average park, the highest in the league. Granderson had a little to do with that, though.
Manager Jim Leyland is getting impatient in his old age, which spells trouble for rookie starters Austin Jackson in center field and Scott Sizemore at second base. Leyland benched or demoted outfielders Granderson and Magglio Ordonez for stretches last year. He also used 126 different lineups during the year, with no single permutation used more than seven times.
Comerica has encouraged contact, with 5 percent fewer strikeouts than expected over the last five years. It has also encouraged walks slightly, though not as much as rate of the decrease in strikeouts.
Only the Arizona Diamondbacks' Chase Field has influenced double-play rates more positively than Comerica. The metric is complicated but irrefutably significant and fairly consistent. Rick Porcello and his enormous groundball rate could benefit from this strange quirk.
Justin Verlander accounted for 11 of the team's league-leading 14 starts wherein the starting hurler topped 120 pitches. Porcello, meanwhile, was allowed to top 100 just four times. Leyland will try to preserve his young arms with pitch counts; he always has. The leash loosens as those youngsters develop, though, as the Verlander example proves.
Leyland is devoted to closer exclusivity, so owners of newcomer Jose Valverde can feel comfortable.
In general, the Tigers are one of the best defensive teams in the league: Brandon Inge is very good at third base, and Gerald Laird has the American League's best arm behind the plate. The rookie Jackson is touted more for his defense than his bat, while fellow rook Sizemore doesn't have great range but is scrappy and a hard worker.
About Matt Trueblood
Matt is a journalism student at Loyola University Chicago. The guest contributor is a featured Chicago Cubs columnist on the Bleacher Report as well as a contributor to hotstove.com. Matt envisions himself as both a writer and analyst and strives to deliver pieces that are both well-researched and thought-provoking. He work first appeared on KFFL.com in February 2010.
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