Detroit Tigers: Using xStats to determine future performance

DETROIT, MI - APRIL 13: Miguel Cabrera #24 of the Detroit Tigers celebrates scoring a eighth inning run with JaCoby Jones #21 while playing the New York Yankees at Comerica Park on April 13, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. New York won the game 8-6. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - APRIL 13: Miguel Cabrera #24 of the Detroit Tigers celebrates scoring a eighth inning run with JaCoby Jones #21 while playing the New York Yankees at Comerica Park on April 13, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. New York won the game 8-6. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Tigers have seen some cold weather impact their hitters early on this season. Using xStats, let’s look at who can be counted on for a rebound.

After a slow start, the Detroit Tigers hitters have begun to hit their stride offensively. A few surprise performers (Leonys Martin, JaCoby Jones) have made up for rather sluggish starts from guys like James McCann and Jose Iglesias.

Advanced data is being used daily to help try to determine future performance. While no data will ever be 100% accurate, there are lots of new ways to determine how a player has performed compared to his statistics.

One such way is xStats, which can be found at Xstats is a tool used to measure a player’s performance based on batted ball data. Simply put, each ball put in play is evaluated using launch angles, exit velocities, distance, game temperature, and ballpark. An algorithm determines the average success rate based on those factors, and spits out a xAVG. A players xAVG/xOBP/xSLG is called their xSlash.

You can read more about xStats here if you are interested. That link also includes a chart that determines what data points are league average, and which ones are elite or very poor.

Detroit Tigers xStat data

Let’s take a look at how each of our Tigers are performing this season, and how that compares to their xstats.

Leonys Martin

2018 slash: .277/.341/.494

2018 xSlash: .288/.351/.534

So far, Martin’s performance is in line with his xstats data. That’s a good sign, as many believe he is overperforming this year. If Martin can keep up this pace, he will post a very solid hitting line on the year. Which is ideal, as the Tigers will surely get more for him at the trade deadline if he is hitting well.

Jeimer Candelario

2018 slash: .290/.359/.548

2018 xslash: .234/.309/.424

Certainly not what Tigers fans will want to hear, but it looks like Candelario is performing significantly above what his batted ball profile suggests. This could be for a variety of reasons. With it still being so early in the year, it could be that a handful of softly hit balls have fallen for hits that otherwise would normally be outs, skewing his data.

Miguel Cabrera

2018 slash: .329/.416/.513

2018 xslash: .322/.410/.495

Another good sign, as Miggy’s dominance to kick off the 2018 season looks like it is backed up by his profile. After a lackluster 2017 season, nothing has been better than seeing Miggy return to form this year. Expect his .383 BABIP to come down, but as long as he keeps hitting the way he has been he should have an excellent season.

Nicholas Castellanos

2018 slash: .333/.388/.500

2018 xslash: .356/.408/.585

Whoa. Castellanos has always been a sabermetrics darling, having posted an excellent hard hit rate and one of the highest rates of “barreled balls” last year. He’s even better this year, absolutely scorching the ball to all fields. He has a chance to be one of the best hitters in the MLB by season’s end.

Victor Martinez

2018 slash: .254/.316./373

2018 xslash: .261/.322/.380

It’s been a rather ho-hum start to the season for V-Mart, who boasts a low .267 BABIP as well. He’ll need to start getting more balls up in the air if he wants to regain some of the success he had earlier in his Tigers career. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him phased out in the second half, so guys like Christin Stewart and Mike Gerber can get more opportunities.

James McCann

2018 slash: .242/.300/.387

2018 xslash: .256/.312/.394

McCann’s gotten a little unlucky this year, as evidenced by his xslash line as well as his .245 BABIP. He’ll need to see a correction soon if he wants to hold onto his starting role. McCann’s always been known more for his defense, specifically his arm. Still, a little more with the bat would be nice.

JaCoby Jones

2018 slash: .280/.351/.480

2018 xslash: .334/.398/.505

Fans should be hoping that Jones can hold onto the left field job, because his xslash indicates that he could be a monster performer for the team as the year goes on. Expecting him to actually hit .334 is a bit of a stretch, but the tantalizing potential that many have seen in him is starting to show through. In what could be a rough season, Jones could provide a nice beacon of hope.

Dixon Machado

2018 slash: .216/.281/.365

2018 xslash: .262/.322/.412

We discussed Machado’s elite hard hit rate in a post recently, and his xslash helps confirm our conclusion from that article: Machado has gotten very unlucky so far in 2018. While he may never be an elite offensive player, a slash line similar to his xslash – along with above average defense at second base – would be a really nice boost for this Tigers team. It could be coming soon.

Jose Iglesias

2018 slash: .216/.263/.297

2018 xslash: .225/.271/.308

Iggy’s ugly offensive performance is not an issue of luck, but rather just an ugly offensive performance. Bummer, as this will hurt his trade value at the deadline.

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The bench players all have xslash lines that look similar to their current offensive output. While it’s not a perfect science (nothing in baseball is) xstats are a nice way to supplement the way you analyze how an offensive player is performing. Hopefully for Detroit, improvements for Castellanos and Jones are coming.