As of earlier today the Tigers sit at 3rd overall in the Major League’s in team AVG (2nd in the American League) and 6th overall in OBP (4th in the American League) and first in runs scored. This is impressive from a team dominated by pitching and finishing 24th overall in MLB in OBP last year.
That said, there is always room for improvement. I took a look at how each offensive position and DH fared around the American League in terms of OBP (on-base percentage.) The Tigers fared pretty well position by position in the AL with a few exceptions where they were in the bottom half of the league. Below is a breakout of OBP by position where it is the OBP of all who played the position though I did list the primary starter.
Let’s dig a bit deeper into the area’s where the offense is lacking which is really only 4 positions, based on the table. I’ll go over the few that worry me on some level.
Catcher – Ivan Rodriguez
Pudge has certainly not been all that he can be so far this year, particularly in May where his BA, OBP and SLG have all dipped and his K-rate has risen. He’s shown spurts of offense and is just working his way out of a slump currently which we’ll just have to wait out. More worrysome than his recent struggles at the plate are some of the decling play behind the plate. This is the topic of a recent article over at scout.com:
The caught stealing percentage isnâ€™t the only stat that is turned upside down for Pudge this season, as he already has three passed balls – only one less than all of last season. There have been many other instances this season when balls he should have blocked or caught have lead to the runners advancing, and though these mistakes donâ€™t show up on his stat sheet they have to be a concern.
His issues at the plate or even behind the plate aren’t of serious concern at this point though since there is nobody who could even take over if that was wanted. It isn’t wanted and he’ll likely surpass most projections that had him hitting around .288/.321/.425.
Pudge will be back next here in all likelihood but the Tigers will need to eye a longer term solution at this position. We’ve been pretty spoiled the last few years.
First Base – Sean Casey
Sean Casey has been a big topic of conversation around Detroit by fans who would like to see a slugger holding down first-base. It’s true that Casey is not that but he’s he’s holding his own this May after having an April that only fueled the dissent. This May has him hitting .338/.379/.413 which is more inline with what he is capable of. He’s one of the few batters who sticks in there with long at-bats and doesn’t strikeout often.
If this play continues a large change won’t come, especially with the success of the Casey-Thames tandem at first. If change eventually is needed this year Chris Shelton is a good option now though that might not last as he’s very streaky. The Tigers have Casey through this year and I doubt we’ll see him back next year and he’ll hit the free-agent market. Last word from Dombrowski was he is the first-baseman of the future:
The Tigers insist that Shelton is in the team’s long-term plans. And while Shelton may never recreate the success he had last April, he might become a hitter similar to Casey, who doesn’t hit for power but compensates with high batting and on-base percentages.
Craig Monroe is close but in all actuality his production isn’t far from his production lifetime and last year. This is a highly powerful offense as they are proving this year with players leading in Doubles, Triples and RBI’s.