30 Tigers in 30 Days – #22: Daniel Schlereth

Get ready! These are getting done today!

2011: 2-2, 3.49 ERA, 31 BB, 44 K in 49 IP
Career: 5-6, 3.87 ERA, 56 BB, 85 K in 86 IP

2012 Projections
Bill James:
 3-3, 3.70 ERA, 36 BB, 62 K in 56 IP
ZiPS: 3-2, 4.26 ERA, 38 BB, 53 K in 57 IP
RotoChamp: 2-2, 4.68 ERA, 32 BB, 47 K in 50 IP

Expected Role: Lefty reliever

Daniel Schlereth somehow managed a sub-4 ERA with a 5.03 FIP last year, so his numbers are a bit of a mirage. The walks were high but the BABIP was low, and it saved him from a really horrible-looking season. His abnormally high strand rate helped in that department, too. The walks are manageable if he can get the K/9 back over 9 (which didn’t happen last year) and he can keep the ball in the park – and he keeps getting lefties out, which is his primary job anyway. Schlereth’s numbers are misleading, but he’s not a lost cause. With some improvement, he is capable of keeping the ERA below 4 a bit more legitimately.

Next: Brandon Inge

30 Tigers in 30 Days – #21: Rick Porcello

2011: 14-9, 4.75 ERA, 46 BB, 104 K in 182 IP
Career: 38-30, 4.54 ERA, 136 BB, 277 K in 515.1 IP

2012 Projections
Bill James:
 10-11, 4.22 ERA, 49 BB, 105 K in 190 IP
ZiPS: 11-11, 4.57 ERA, 48 BB, 100 K in 173.1 IP
RotoChamp: 11-11, 4.29 ERA, 49 BB, 108 K in 195 IP

I wrote at length about Rick Porcello here, and I encourage everyone to go read that while I keep this short. His FIP dropped for the third consecutive year in 2011 – it was actually his best peripherally – and his K/9 ticked up again. It would be nice to see that get near the 6 mark, but he was looking pretty good toward the end of the season into the postseason. The question remains, of course, if the Tigers’ infield defense will hurt Porcello with his ground ball tendencies, but he seems to be on the right track, if nothing else.

Expected Role: Rotation

30 Tigers in 30 Days – #20: Ryan Raburn

2011: .256/.297/.432, 14 HR, 49 RBI
Career: .269/.323/.456, 53 HR, 204 RBI

2012 Projections

Bill James: .264/.324/.457, 18 HR, 66 RBI
ZiPS: .255/.308/.429, 13 HR, 47 RBI
RotoChamp: .252/.305/.433, 16 HR, 57 RBI

Expected Role: Second base, maybe left field

The more things change, the more they stay the same for Ryan Raburn. He was supposed to have a guarantee on the left field job last year, then Brennan Boesch got hot and Raburn was his usual first half self and that quickly fell by the wayside. Raburn proceeded to make his usual second half recovery, of course, and ended up OPSing over .900 in the postseason.

So here we are, back to the drawing board, as Raburn and the Tigers once again try to figure out why he’s completely useless until about July, and then turns into a very competent major-league hitter. If the Tigers can figure it out and rectify it, they’ll have a solid major league hitter who can play multiple positions to work with.

Of course, there’s the ever present issue with his defense. I’ve said often that Raburn’s range is not the problem, it’s more that he does fantastically stupid things with the baseball once he gets to it. That said, Raburn at second a majority of the time could be an adventure, especially if he can’t justify it by hitting.

I’d love to be more insightful about Raburn, but his season splits continue to be a mystery and I don’t know what the deal is any more than he seems to. Maybe this year?

Next: Rick Porcello

30 Tigers in 30 Days – #19: Ramon Santiago

2011: .260/.311/.384, 5 HR, 30 RBI
Career: .249/.316/.342, 25 HR, 166 RBI

2012 Projections

Bill James: .249/.310/.351, 6 HR, 35 RBI
ZiPS: .258/.321/.364, 5 HR, 26 RBI
RotoChamp: .271/.334/.380, 5 HR, 35 RBI

Expected Role: Second base – PT may vary

By now, Tigers fans should know exactly what’s coming from Ramon Santiago. Decent 9 hitter, good defensive infielder, an effective part-time player but should not be playing a full time role. It’s not any sort of indictment against Santiago, it’s just that he’s utilized far better in a part time role (plus, it’s even more fun when he busts out his Rod Allen-approved sneaky power).

This year, it appears Santiago will be sharing time at second base with Ryan Raburn and/or Brandon Inge, depending on how that whole thing works out. Santiago was better against lefty pitching last year, but so were the other two, so that doesn’t help much. Santiago might be the preferable option if Doug Fister or Rick Porcello, the ground ballers on the Tigers staff, are on the mound on any given day. Either way, Jim Leyland has used Santiago nicely the last few years, and the Tigers were wise to keep him in the fold for two more years.

Next: Ryan Raburn

30 Tigers in 30 Days – #18: Collin Balester

2011: 1-4, 4.54 ERA, 14 BB, 34 K in 35.2 IP
Career: 5-16, 5.17 ERA, 67 BB, 132 K in 167 IP

2012 Projections
Bill James:
 2-4, 5.47 ERA, 23 BB, 40 K in 51 IP
ZiPS: 5-6, 5.23 ERA, 38 BB, 62 K in 108 IP
RotoChamp: 3-3, 4.05 ERA, 25 BB, 57 K in 60 IP

Expected Role: Longish reliever

This is the Tigers’ return for Ryan Perry – a bit puzzling, since they seem content to admit that Perry wasn’t a total loss yet, but this was largely a change of scenery move. Balester is a failed starter, once the top prospect in the Washington organization (that’s pre-Strasburg, of course) and the general idea is that he’ll be able to go more than one inning at a time. The projections are pretty dreadful, though, and it’s hard to imagine Balester starting the season in anything other than a mopup role in the bullpen. If he pitches himself into a more prominent role, great. If not, oh well.

Next: Ramon Santiago

30 Tigers in 30 Days – #17: Delmon Young

2011: .268/.302/.393, 12 HR, 64 RBI
Career: .288/.321/.428, 71 HR, 408 RBI

2012 Projections

Bill James: .287/.325/.447, 13 HR, 66 RBI
ZiPS: .283/.317/.441, 18 HR, 86 RBI
RotoChamp: .285/.324/.429, 15 HR, 77 RBI

Expected Role: Left field/possible DH

I’m going to try and take a positive approach to Delmon Young (or Elmon, as I prefer to call him, since he has no D), at least from an offensive standpoint – defending his skills in left field would be like defending the Alex Rios contract. Just admit that he’s a butcher and we’ll move on.

Elmon will more than likely be hitting fifth, directly behind Prince Fielder. I do not ascribe to the theory that this means he’ll be getting more fastballs to hit, especially given the fact that his plate discipline leaves a lot to be desired, but last year was the first year of Young’s career he hit below .284. Like it or not, he’s okay at getting hits. And if Fielder is drawing walks and ripping doubles, Young could be in decent position to knock in a few runs. He won’t hit for a ton of power – his ceiling is probably 20 home runs, and he probably won’t get there – and he won’t walk, but ideally, he’ll get some hits, knock in some runs, and we’ll see how this thing shakes out. If the ZiPS comes close to verifying, that would be more than adequate.

….defending Delmon Young is hard work, I have to say, so let’s end on a negative note – his defense is terrible, his lack of plate discipline is maddening, and it really feels like a guy like him should have a little more power, but it’s not there. Gah, Elmon, you’re a frustrating one.

Next: Collin Balester

30 Tigers in 30 Days – #16: Luis Marte

NOTE: Get ready for a monstrous post dump this weekend. All 30 of these will be up by the end of the day Sunday, largely because I just wanted to knock these all out of the way.

2011/Career: 1-0, 2.45 ERA, 1 BB, 3 K in 3.2 IP

2012 Projections
2-2, 4.50 ERA, 30 BB, 45 K in 54 IP

Expected Role: Minor league/major league borderline

I’m previewing Luis Marte because there are a lot of people out there that like him. He posted good strikeout totals in the minors, but control has been an issue. He dominated AA last year, but that was largely on the strength of a .228 BABIP and an 86.8% LOB rate. That said, if he keeps striking people out at a decent clip, he could possibly find a spot as a major league reliever somewhere. I’m not sure that he’ll have a huge impact on anything this year – depends on how the roster shakes out in spring training, who gets hurt, who stands out at Toledo – but Marte might prove to be worth keeping an eye on to see if he can remain successful in Toledo, assuming he starts the year there. Don’t expect him to turn into Al Alburquerque, though.

Next: Delmon Young

30 Tigers in 30 Days – #15: Gerald Laird

2011: .232/.308/.358, 1 HR, 12 RBI
Career: .241/.300/.358, 35 HR, 204 RBI

2012 Projections – N/A

Expected Role: Backup catcher

Gerald Laird’s value goes beyond numbers. There aren’t really any projections for him, because you can’t project Gerald Laird. Throw the career stats out the window. You can harp on the .232 average last year all you want, but that’s the best .232 average in baseball history. When Gerald Laird is on the field, he changes the complexion of the game – no ifs, ands, or buts.

And don’t forget his defensive ability. The man is a legend. Who needs Pudge Rodriguez when you have Gerald Laird? Remember every day when Rod Allen would point out how he grips the baseball when he throws people out at second like laserbeams and stuff? Yeah, get used to seeing that again. We’re bringing it back.

Gerald Laird brings a presence. Why do you think the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series last year? It’s not because of Albert Pujols, or Lance Berkman, or their pitching, or their defense. It’s because Gerald Laird was the heart and soul of that baseball team. When they were out of it in September, Gerald Laird never gave up. He carried them back. He sat there on the bench cheering with gusto, and not many players can cheer with that much gusto, I don’t mind saying. They weren’t even supposed to win the wildcard, and Gerald Laird was the backbone of their World Series run. And he’s gonna do the same here.

Gerald Laird is back, everybody. Kick back, relax, and watch as he leads the Detroit Tigers to the promised land – and then leads the entire City of Detroit in a massive singalong of “Hey, Soul Sister” at the victory parade in Hart Plaza.

Next: Luis Marte

30 Tigers in 30 Days – #14: Miguel Cabrera

Note: I’m just going to dump these out at will since I’m a couple days behind, and hopefully we’ll be wrapped up with this series by March 1st or so.

2011: .344/.448/.586, 30 HR, 105 RBI
Career: .317/.395/.555, 277 HR, 984 RBI

2012 Projections

Bill James: .329/.422/.582, 35 HR, 120 RBI
ZiPS: .310/.406/.548, 31 HR, 99 RBI
RotoChamp: .323/426/.573, 32 HR, 118 RBI

Expected Role: Third base(!!!!)

Can we just take a moment to consider how awesome it is that the Tigers got this guy for what essentially boils down to Cameron Maybin? We should never, ever take this for granted.

Anyway, Miguel Cabrera is batting third this year, and he’s skinny – at least by Miguel Cabrera standards, anyway. Don’t think his offensive production will drop much. He might hit the gaps a bit more than he homers, but it’s hard to go wrong. The big question comes defensively with Cabrera’s move to third. I, for one, don’t think he’ll be as cover-your-eyes bad as some people think he will be. Walkoff Woodward pretty well covered the defensive angle with a conclusive and honest “we really don’t know, but based on the raw numbers, he’s really not going to be staggeringly worse than what the Tigers had there before.” Now, that’s not to say he’ll win a Gold Glove or anything, and we’ll have to see how he responds to bunts and weak ground balls and the like, but frankly, I think Cabrera’s offensive prowess combined with Prince Fielder’s will be worth the defensive downgrade.

And don’t forget, Cabrera has a lot of pride and an excellent work ethic. I think he wants this, and I have no reason to believe that he won’t work his rear end off to make sure he’s at least competent at it. He did the same at first base, after all. Cabrera has a legitimate chance of winning the MVP Award next year. Hey, I have to say something bold in these posts, don’t I?

Next: Our Namesake, G-Money

30 Tigers in 30 Days – #13: Octavio Dotel

2011: 5-4, 3 saves, 3.50 ERA, 17 BB, 62 K in 54 IP
Career: 54-47, 108 saves, 3.74 ERA, 396 BB, 1077 K in 888.1 IP

2012 Projections
Bill James:
 4-3, 0 saves, 3.30 ERA, 24 BB, 73 K in 60 IP
RotoChamp: 2-2, 0 saves, 3.44 ERA, 22 BB, 65 K in 55 IP 

Expected Role: 7th inning setup

The Octavio Dotel move is going to fly under the radar, but he could be an extremely valuable bullpen piece this year, especially with Al Alburquerque out until God knows when. He posts healthy strikeout totals, has AL Central experience…really the only thing is he should never ever be allowed to face lefties, because he’s terrible against them. Dominates right handers, though, and will provide a valuable bridge to the Benoit/Valverde combo. His walk rate was way down last year for some reason – wouldn’t expect it to continue, but Dotel will probably do exactly what the Tigers are hoping he’ll do – get them through the 7th more often than not. And that’s going to be a pretty big help.

Next: Miguel Cabrera