Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 22, 2008
BASEBALL: Soft Up The Middle

I have been thinking of Bill James' study (in this year's Goldmine book) confirming the conventional wisdom that good teams tend to be strong up the middle in the context of the Tigers' early struggles. Edgar Renteria seems to be doing OK, but look elsewhere: at catcher, Pudge Rodriguez is batting .271/.316/.414, and only in the last day or two got his OBP out of the .280s. At second, Placido Polanco - the anchor of the Detroit infield defense - has been injured, and when healthy he hit just .148/.292/.167. In center, star CF and key offensive and defensive contributor Curtis Granderson has been hurt and hasn't played yet.

That's not the whole explanation, of course; DH Gary Sheffield is hitting .192/.364/.308, left fielders Jacque Jones and Marcus Thames are hitting .178/.224/.178 and .172/.250/.276, respectively, and starters Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman, Dontrelle Willis and Kenny Rogers have combined to walk 5.77 men per 9 innings while striking out just 4.05. But the weakness up the middle is a key element.

Of course, Sheffield probably isn't totally done, Thames will hit again, and eventually Polanco and Granderson should be healthy. I still expect them to score buckets of runs. I'd be more concerned about the starters.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:17 AM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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