his column today, Jerry Green of the Detroit News wrote “statistical analyses can't obscure true..."/> his column today, Jerry Green of the Detroit News wrote “statistical analyses can't obscure true..."/>

Statistics Are Fun, Not Evil


In the headline of his column today, Jerry Green of the Detroit News wrote “statistical analyses can’t obscure true magic of the game.” He’s right; the game of baseball is magical even when you embrace the ever-progressing field of statistical analysis, though that’s not the meaning Green intended to convey.

In this post, I’m going to list some obscure statistics about your Detroit Tigers this season to date. They’re magical, fun, good, bad, and they don’t attack or take away from the “sensational joy of the game.” Some may be meaningless and most are the product of small sample sizes, but I hope you find them interesting nonetheless.

(All numbers are current before games on Monday, May 14th. Thanks to Baseball-Reference.com and Fangraphs.com.)

Andy Dirks leads the Tigers in each of batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. Austin Jackson is second in all three categories. The triple-slash lines of Detroit’s new top-of-the-lineup duo are .371/.413/.629 and .320/.403/.504 respectively. Jackson’s .320 average is good for seventh among qualified American League players.

Jackson has a 12.3% walk rate, good for second on the Tigers behind Danny Worth, who has a 15% walk rate but only 20 plate appearances.

Jackson has stolen six bases and has yet to be caught. Carlos Gonzalez and Maicer Izturis each have the same six-to-zero ratio. Emilio Bonifacio is the only player in baseball who has not been caught stealing and has more than six steals—he has 17.

Jackson is one of 18 qualified players in baseball who has not hit an infield fly ball. Former Tiger Placido Polanco is also on the list. The 18 players have thus far combined to go 645-for-2123 at the plate, good for a .304 batting average.

Jackson has seen 4.1986 pitches per plate appearance, better than all but 16 qualified players in baseball. On the other hand, Brennan Boesch and Delmon Young have seen 3.4855 and 3.4955 pitches per plate appearance respectively, better than only 14 qualified players.

Boesch has walked three times in 138 plate appearances. Only two qualified players in baseball have a lower walk rate than his 2.2%. Young’s 5.4% is—surprisingly—better than 34.

Jhonny Peralta has a 29.3% line drive rate, good for second among American League qualifiers behind Ryan Sweeney. It’s commonly accepted that adding a hundred points to line drive percentage gives an extremely rough estimate of BABIP; in other words, Peralta’s should be somewhere around .393. It currently sits at .321, which means his batting average of .257 may actually be quite unlucky.

In the top of the seventh inning last Tuesday against the Seattle Mariners, Prince Fielder launched a home run off reliever Shawn Kelley. Since that plate appearance, he has struck out seven times, has recorded no hits, and has grounded into two double plays. He has reached base just once in 22 plate appearances—on an error. In five games, Fielder’s average has dropped from .318 to .266.

Miguel Cabrera hasn’t homered since the eighth inning on April 28th at Yankee Stadium—57 plate appearances ago. Brandon Inge has homered four times in his last 26. Despite the recent outage, Cabrera still leads Detroit with seven bombs. He also experienced a stretch in early-to-mid April where he went without a homer in 46 plate appearances. He would need to go another six games without a home run to match his career long streak of 19 games without one (79 plate appearances), set in July of 2006. Meanwhile, Cabrera hasn’t been walked—intentionally or otherwise—in his last 62 plate appearances.

Andy Dirks has hit eight line drives over the past week (going back to May 7th). Only Michael Brantley (12), Asdrubal Cabrera (10), and Jason Kipnis (10)—all Cleveland Indians—have hit more.

The Tigers have bunted nine times, more than only the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox. Gerald Laird has the team’s only bunt base hit.

Laird has had 11 plate appearances over the last two weeks (going back to April 30th), and has seen 34 pitches. He has swung at 16 pitches and made contact on every swing, making him one of three players in baseball (along with Chris Stewart and Chad Tracy) with at least ten plate appearances over the last two weeks who has not whiffed at a single pitch. Tracy—of the Washington Nationals—has, incredibly, swung at 28 pitches over that span without whiffing.

That’s all for today! For some pitching numbers, check out today’s piece from Jordan Gorosh detailing the performance of the Tigers’ rotation through 34 games.