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Entries in Detroit Tigers (64)


Curtis Granderson, the right man against lefties

December 9, 2009 was a date that has had a profound affect on three teams that are in first place today. On that date, the Detroit Tigers sent Edwin Jackson to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Curtis Granderson to the New York Yankees. The Yankees sent Phil Coke and Austin Jackson to the Detroit Tigers. The New York Yankees sent Ian Kennedy to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Arizona Diamondbacks sent Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth to the Detroit Tigers. Talk about deals that deserve the Charlie Sheen Award for WIN-WIN-WIN!

Austin Jackson finished second in the AL last season in the Rookie of the Year voting. Ian Kennedy at 15-4 is getting some Cy Young Award talk this season and now, Curtis Granderson is in the mix for the AL MVP award this season. The Grandy Man leads the league in runs with 114, in triples with 10, in RBI with 98 and has 35 homers and a .965 OPS.

Watching Granderson's improvement has been dramatic. Let me remind you that on July 7 of last season he was hitting .225 and hitting seventh in the Yankee lineup. 

Here's what Granderson looked like up to July 7 last season:

Granderson was hitting a weak .225Granderson only had 8 doubles, 4 triples, and 7 homers.

But it was his inability to hit lefties that was killing him:

Granderson was .198 against leftiesHe had 2 doubles, 1 triple, and 1 homer.

Then along came Kevin Long:

Granderson hit .257 from July 9 onGranderson worked hard with Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long and it produced results. He had 9 doubles, 3 triples, and 17 homers to end 2010 strongly.

Here's how he did against lefties from July 9 on:

Grandy hit .257 against lefties and .257 against rightiesAgainst lefties he had 3 doubles and 3 homers, but more importantly he had started getting better plate coverage.

Up to July 7, from the inside to the middle of the plate against lefties, Granderson was getting killed hitting .156. From the middle to the outside of the plate against lefties, Granderson hit .203. From July 9 on from the inside to the middle of the plate against lefties Granderson hit .429. From the middle to the outside of the plate against lefties, Granderson hit .257. 

Jump to 2011:

Grandy is hitting .281 overall this season.

Grandy this season against lefties:

Now Granderson is hitting .281 against lefties and .281 against rightiesOf his 35 homers this season, 13 are against lefties.

Granderson's quick bat against lefties, Inside to the Middle of the plate:

Grandy is hitting .270

Granderson's quick bat against lefties, Middle to the Outside of the plate:

Grandy is hitting .278 with 12 homersLooking at these heat maps you can see the incredible difference in Granderson. Since last July 7, Granderson is hitting .276 with 31 doubles, 14 triples, and 53 homers.

Granderson has clearly been the right man against lefties this season, which means if we are looking at the postseason, the Texas Rangers with their three lefty starters have to prefer to face the Boston Red Sox.


Fister Chasing a Dream

Doug Fister of the Detroit Tigers ranks as one of the best pitchers in 2011 at getting batters to chase pitches outside the strike zone.  This should be a good thing; batters swinging at pitches out of the strike zone should result in better outcomes for the pitcher.  Take a look at the batting averages allowed by the top ten pitchers in chase percentage.


PitcherTeamPlate AppearancesAVG AgainstStrikeout %Chase %
Ricky Nolasco FLA 712 0.291 0.167 0.367
Doug Fister DET 670 0.265 0.140 0.360
Dan Haren LAA 753 0.227 0.207 0.341
Carl Pavano MIN 718 0.294 0.102 0.340
Cole Hamels PHI 677 0.215 0.229 0.338
Jeff Karstens PIT 573 0.255 0.148 0.336
Jon Niese NYM 670 0.278 0.197 0.336
Roy Halladay PHI 735 0.245 0.241 0.334
Justin Verlander DET 778 0.187 0.262 0.333
Cory Luebke SD 385 0.198 0.270 0.333


Note that the batting averages allowed correlate much better with strike out rate than with chase percentage.  Chasing pitches without inducing misses doesn't really seem to lead to better outcomes.  Balls in play tend to find holes with some regularity.

Note that Fister posted a .252 BA against with the Mariners, a good fielding team.  With the poor fielding Detroit Tigers, that's up to .369.  He doesn't miss bats, so even though he's good at getting hitters to fish outside the strike zone, those balls in play still depend on his fielders catching them.  So far, the Tigers haven't.



Jered Weaver Head Hunting

Jered Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim received a six game suspension on Tuesday for throwing at Alex Avila of the Detroit Tigers.  Note that Weaver is not afraid to pitch inside to left-handed batters.

Jered Weaver, pitching inside to lefties out of the strike zone, 2011.Compare that to the league average:

MLB, RHP inside to LHB, 2011.Weaver tends to come farther inside than most righties, and up and down a bit more.  His high pitches usually end up over the plate, not near the batter's head.

Look where he threw the pitch to Avila:

Jered Weaver pitch to Alex Avila, July 31, 2011 (pitch labeled 1).That is not where Jered normally pitches when he misses.  It's off the chart.