Saving Detroit: Tigers Notes, 8/8/17

detroit tigers notes

While trades– including a trade of Justin Verlander– technically remain a possibility at this point in the year, it looks like the Detroit Tigers will content themselves with playing out the final two months of this season with their current crew and an eye toward the future. For this site, that probably means that the pages of this season’s Tigers diary will be a little emptier than they might be if the team were more aggressive in the trade market or competing for a playoff berth. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t interesting items to track, though. Here are a few:

    • Justin Upton: As highlighted here last week, Upton’s been trimming his bugaboo strikeout rate, but he’s continuing to strike out in bad situations. Since that post, he’s appeared in six games and added four two-out strikeouts to his total, pushing him into a tie for eleventh on the MLB-wide list (minimum 100 two-out plate appearances) in 2017. With 3.6 fWAR, Upton continues to be the team’s best position player by a comfortable margin, as well as its best overall player. In that post last week, I speculated that Upton is unlikely to opt out of his contract this offseason due, in part, to a weak market for corner outfielders with his profile. Over at The Athletic’s new Detroit vertical, Neil Weinberg is more optimistic about Upton’s open-market prospects, calling the “odds that Upton opts out . . . quite high.”
    • Miguel Cabrera: I’ve been working up a full post on Cabrera’s tough season, which has a good chance to be the worst of his career. (For a forward-looking analysis, my career comparison between Cabrera and Albert Pujols is here.) Besides the obvious drop in production, one thing that jumps out is his batting average on balls in play, which, at .296, is below .300 for the first time ever (career .345 BABIP). Last month, Weinberg did the logical thing and dove into Cabrera’s swing profile and batted-ball data tabulated by StatCast. The problem, from our perspective, is that there isn’t a ton there. Cabrera continues to rank high (currently number one, minimum 200 at bats, by a large margin) on the xwOBA-wOBA chart, an indication that he’s making good contact despite poor results. From watching games this season, it seems like Cabrera turns away from inside (but not that inside) pitches more often than in years past, which makes me wonder if he simply isn’t seeing pitches as well. (Weinberg noticed that he’s swinging less often than usual at inside pitches.)
      When observing the decline of a great player, it can be fun to take a break from the dissection to remember his youth, which the remarkable achievements of Mike Trout and Bryce Harper gave us occasion to do today:

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A Song of Bryce and Fire

imagesAD has been writing about his new favorite team lately in the popular column Upton Abbey.  Since I can’t allow him to praise the Barves unchecked, I will now write a semi-regular-ish column on their division rivals, the Washington Nationals.  So now you get three columns on teams you (probably) don’t care about.  But you should read all of them so you can get some culture and have something to talk about with your co-workers at the ol’ water cooler.

This past weekend saw a series between the scorching hot Bravos and the hot-but-not-scorching-hot Washington Nationals.  The series did not go so well for Washington, as they got swept and only looked competitive in the first game.  I attended the Saturday game with noted blog subject Bad Jeremy, who is almost as big of a Braves fan as AD.  The game was a 3-1 Braves victory that saw the Nats do very little in the way of making offense and the Braves do slightly more.  Evan Gattis carried the Braves, hitting a two run homer that caused Bad Jeremy to get out of his seat and flex at all the Nats fans in the surrounding area.

The highlight of the game was, as always, the Presidents’ Race.  George Washington jumped out to a big lead early on with Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson trailing behind.  Newcomer William Howard Taft was nowhere to be found, and everyone in attendance wondered where he was.  The answer to that question was soon revealed, as Taft emerged from the right field bullpen to join with Teddy in beating up George Washington.  Apparently there was some beef between Presidents 26 and 27 and President 1.  Who knew?  Jefferson and Lincoln continued past, neck and neck, until Jefferson went into his kick and won what was one of the more exciting Presidents’ Races in recent memory.

Despite being swept by the Barves, the Nats have looked good early on and seem like they are more than capable of making it to their second postseason in franchise history this year.  They have some great young arms in Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzales, not to mention the bats of Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth.  This weekend’s series could very well be a preview of the 2013 NLCS (where the winner will go on to get swept by the Seattle Mariners in the World Series).  Stay tuned for more of A Song of Bryce and Fire, and also for a Mariners column with the working title of King in the North(west).  Baseball, huh?  How about it?

2-4-1 Beers with Bryce Harper and Sir Charles

When a certain Nashville restaurant decided to stop being an obvious organized crime front and take the business above board, one of the succession of attempted ventures in the space was a sports bar so desperate for customers it was almost giving away beer. The question was, is “two-for-one” beer the same thing as half-off beer, and if not, which is preferable?

Anyway, you need not choose, because here in a single post are two quick hits about beer and guys who don’t want any of it. First up is the now “viral” (HT: Laura) Bryce Harper:

Straight up Gongshow.

Next is a guy we hope isn’t viral, even if his late-night driving errands suggest he’s at an increased risk:

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to revoke the Round Mound’s knighthood.