Sunday, March 30, 2008

One More Day...

One more day and our defense of the American League Central Crown begins. There has been much written early about the improvements that Detroit made over the winter and you must admit that they look very strong. Many "experts" have picked the Tigers as the team to beat in the Central. They are strong defensively and their lineup is solid from top to bottom. Their biggest question mark will be pitching, both starting and relief. The Indians on the other hand have brought back basically the same team that won 96 games last year and were one game away from going to the World Series.

Most baseball execs and fans will take little notice of spring training results, mainly because of the infusion of minor leaguers into the games. But look at the impact the minor leaguers had on the 2007 Indians team.
For the fun of it, lets do a little light examination of the spring for Cleveland and Detroit.

Both teams finished the spring with records of 15 wins and 14 losses.
Let's compare other spring numbers (the numbers in parenthesis are the American League ranking for spring 2008):
  1. AVG Cle .270 (10) Det .291 (3)
  2. Runs Cle 175 (4) Det 171 (5)
  3. Hits Cle 286 (8) Det 334 (1)
  4. 2B Cle 60 (11) Det 71 (2)
  5. 3B Cle 7 (8) Det 11 (4)
  6. HR Cle 43 (2) Det 44 (1)
  7. RBI Cle 171 (3) Det 166 (4)
  8. SB Cle 10 (10) Det 9 (11)
  9. OBP Cle .352 (6) Det .356 (5)
  10. SLG Cle .461 (5) Det .487 (1)

If we add up the offensive numbers in parenthesis and dividing by 10, the Tigers are ranked at 4th and the Indians are at 7th.

How about some pitching numbers:

  1. ERA Cle 4.61 (9) Det 5.59 (8)
  2. HR Cle 10 (5) Det 13 (7)
  3. BB Cle 96 (6) Det 115 (12)
  4. SO Cle 188 (6) Det 170 (10)
  5. Hits Cle 309 (12) Det 304 (11)
  6. Runs Cle 157 (9) Det 158 (10)

Again, adding up the Pitching number in parenthesis and dividing by 6, the Indians come in at 8th and the Tigers at 10th.

Overall, The Tigers come in at 6th and the Indians at 7th.

Cause for alarm? Absolutely, but the panic was raised when the Tigers acquired Cabrera and Willis, then they got Reteria, a proven "Indian Killer!" Looking further at spring stats, it appears that the Tigers played their regulars far more than the Indians did in a "get to know each other" manner. The Indians took long looks at many minor leaguers and invitees this spring.

So, on paper and in spring training, the Tigers look to be the team to beat. But I love our chances. This has the look and feel of a down-to-the-wire race for the Central Crown. Honestly, think back to one year ago as we were about to embark on the 2007 season and answer the question, "Where did you pick the 2007 Indians to finish?"

Go Tribe! Win the World Series after a 60 year drought!

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