The Detroit Tigers: A Team Brad Pitt Would be Proud of

Well, probably not the real Brad Pitt.  He could care less about the Tigers, I’m certain, however his version of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane in the Academy Award nominated film Moneyball would love this team…outside of the salary cap that zooms well past $100 Million.

For those who haven’t seen the movie, Pitt’s adaption of Beane adopts the philosophies of a ficticious character (Peter Brand – supposedly a melding of numerous real life people) played by Jonah Hill who simply preaches get players who get on base above anything else.  With the addition of Prince Fielder, the Tigers now have three of the top ten batters with the highest on-base percentage in the majors (Fielder – .415, Miguel Cabrera – .448 and Alex Avila – .389).  Once, Victor Martinez (.380) comes back, they’ll have four of the top twenty.  Feel free to throw this out to the sabermetrics geeks blasting this move…”Bill James would love this team!”.

In Moneyball, Beane preaches getting on base–and hence producing more runs and more wins–above any other aspect of the game.  Including defense.  In fact, a major plot of the movie involves a conflict between Beane and former A’s manager Art Howe (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman), whom refused to play catcher Scott Hatteberg out of position at first base–obviously echoing the Tigers’ upcoming adventure of playing a first baseman at third base.  In addition to getting guys who get on base, the philosophies of Moneyball also include no stealing (at the risk of an out) and no bunting (at the probability of giving the opponent a near certain out).  I think it’s safe to say the Prince Fielder signing does nothing to increase the liklihood of either of those happening much this season.

While the Tigers have a couple of free swingers in Brennan Boesch, Austin Jackson and Delmon Young, those guys are going to probably see the most hittable pitches of their lives since they’re sandwiched between Cabrera and Fielder.

Perhaps the moral of the story–with a daddy/daughter, family comes first relationship thrown in for the ladies–is if you do one thing well, you can’t lose regardless of what others think of you.  While some have blasted the signing and it’s defensive implications, and some humorus defensive plays are sure to happen, just like Moneyball–I’m pretty certain it’ll all work out in the end.

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Tags: Alex Avila Austin Jackson Brennan Boesch Delmon Young Detroit Tigers Miguel Cabrera Prince Fielder Victor Martinez

  • Sam Genson

    I need to watch that this weekend

  • funkytime

    Ha. Some have also argued that the Moneyball system overrates big, slow, power hitters. So the Tigers are doing well in that regard too.

    Perhaps the Tigers are in line for the sequel? Moneyball 2: Cha-Ching!

    • ChrisHannum

      @funkytime I haven’t heard anybody say that the ‘moneyball’ philosophy (however that is interpreted) overvalues power or undervalues speed on the basepaths. What I have heard is that it undervalues defense and overvalues walks in the absence of hits, the idea being that a team needs both table-setters and RBI guys not just one of the two. The thing is, it’s extremely hard to find a guy with a great OBP without power. I’ll take a .400 OBP and .500 SLG anyday over a guy with a .330 OBP and no power but plenty of speed.

      • funkytime

        @ChrisHannum It’s not something I agree with, but traditionalists that prefer tools over stats have definitely said that stats underrate the importance of athleticism. The big slow fat guys that hit for low averages but would draw a lot of walks and hit for power were some of the most undervalued players back in the day.

        I was just kidding around though, about how the Tigers are cornering the market on the slow 1st baseman types.