My (Backwards?) View on Team Development
By Sam Genson
This afternoon, on Twitter, MCB’s Garret Craig discussed how nice it would be to add Dustin Pedroia to the Tigers roster. I replied with a bit of snark, essentially saying “well yeah, duh, it would be nice to add Felix Hernandez to our rotation too”. His point was obvious though. Pedroia, more than the vast majority of other All-Star caliber players, is exactly what the Tigers roster needs. He plays a position of great/severe/huge/overwhelming/pick an adjective need and provides substance to the top of the batting order, something the Tigers lacked most of the year (how exactly Miguel Cabrera got 100+ RBIs still baffles me). Garret’s conversation re-ignited a thought I have had from time to time. It probably is not original, but I wonder what the feeling is towards it.
"@Tigercub33@garretkc What they need is to find a player LIKE him, similar tools and so forth. I think each position should have player “models”"
Perhaps many teams already do this in a way. While some positions seem to define themselves (a CF needs to be good at defense), others vary more widely. As an example, some teams opt for a big bat at 3B while others go for defense…and some teams have both like the Rangers with Adrian Beltre. Other times teams have overall philosophies where they just try and find the player at a position who fits into their team mentality (this is probably an over generalization of the Oakland A’s and their famous “Moneyball” theory).
I don’t really know where the Tigers fall in this though. While we know what their thinking is on pitching (Yes, please, I’ll take another power arm, thank you), it is not as clear as to what they look for in a hitter. It has been suggested that they tend to skew towards players with a high BABIP and good power numbers, a theory that certainly has merit when you look at the current composition of the 25 man roster. We have also seen a couple wild swings from heavy offense to heavy defense and then back again. We all know that Jim Leyland seems to have a slotting system for certain positions. More often than not during his tenure with the Tigers, the CF hits 1, 2B hits 2, and a corner OF hits 3. In some instances, this works out well (Placido Polanco circa always, Magglio Ordonez circa 2006-2008) and in others it does not (Austin Jackson circa 2011, Curtis Granderson circa 2009).
What I would like to see is for the Tigers go with a position by position approach to each player. If they are going to continue to adhere to the “a certain position must bat in this pot in the order” then they need to be selective of what types of players they put at that position.
- “Our 2B needs to be a quality fielder with a good OBP and high contact rate.”
- “Our CF needs to have good speed, with solid baserunning skills and high walk rate in addition to defensive acumen.”
- “Our 3b needs to be a big bat, capable of the 3 run HR”
Maybe we already see the Tigers doing this – it seems that ever SS in they system, aside from Jhonny Peralta, fits the “amazing range, couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat” profile and every 1B in almost every system is the same – big power can’t play another else defensively. Obviously I have my own views on what certain positions should look like (and Pedroia is obviously the 2B model). It would be interesting to get some insight on how the Tigers feel though. While there is merit to just taking the best athlete and hoping that guy turns out (certainly a philosophy the Tigers have had, if they don’t still have it) something can be said for looking for very specific skill sets for certain positions across the diamond.