Tigers KKKKKKey Ingredrients For October Success.

Without going to Baseball Prospectus’ playoff odd grid (though I will in a moment), barring Cabrera & Fielder being traded to start an uncharacteristic (and something demanding an investigation) rebuild, the Tigers blowing every 9th inning save opportunity for the rest of the year, nor this Upton nonsense helping to mute Verlander’s more typical metahuman performances, I put the Tigers playoff chances at 86%. 

Now, let’s go to BP

I was close. 

Rnk Team
Win

Loss

Expected
Win Pct

Sim
Win

Sim
Loss

Div
Pct

WC
Pct
Sorted Descending
Playoff
Pct

Playoff
Pct (Adj)

WS Win
Pct

1 Day
Delta

7 Day
Delta
1
Detroit 
Tigers
39 31 .576 92.1 69.9 88.5% 4.6% 93.1% 91.1% 21.5% -1.1% -0.9%
2
Cleveland 
Indians
36 35 .502 82.5 79.5 8.5% 16.5% 25.0% 16.5% 1.4% 3.8% 7.1%
3
Kansas City 
Royals
34 36 .478 78.2 83.8 2.1% 4.2% 6.3% 4.1% 0.2% -1.3% 3.0%
4
Minnesota 
Twins
32 36 .450 74.6 87.4 0.6% 0.9% 1.4% 0.9% 0.0% 0.4% 0.4%
5
Chicago 
White Sox
29 40 .466 72.2 89.8 0.3% 0.1% 0.4% 0.3% 0.0% -0.2% -1.3%

Now, onto ESPN’s David Schoenfield’s column about Tom Verducci’s crusade against K’s and how it affects postseason performance. A tease? As capricious as October baseball can be, some elementary statistics  look to put the Tigers in excellent shape for another Series run.

I looked at each postseason game from last year. The team that struck out fewer times went 14-17 (six games had an equal number of strikeouts). So strikeouts don’t matter? Not necessarily. I looked at 2010 and 2011 and the team that struck out fewer times went 44-23 (with three games the same). Over a three-year span in postseason games, the team that struck out less went 58-40.

Currently, the Tigers are 28th 3rd in MLB is avoiding K’s, right behind the Royals and defending champ Giants. 

The Giants starting pitching is not the potent force it’s been the last few years, but it’d be unwise to think Matt Cain’s ERA will remain closer to 5, than 3. Granted, there’s other problems on that staff besides him (Ryan Vogelsong), but at this point it’s mediocre at best. The Giants do seem to awaken in September. If you’re going to pick two months to play your best, while meddling in the race the rest of the year, September and October are those months. 

The Royals on the other hand, as I projected in Spring training due to the arrivals of pitchers who on good days could shut down quality lineups, lead the American League in ERA. Though it may be a bit of a mirage, or at least due to exceptional defense, which is certainly sustainable. The Royals (who got a nice t shirt nod in Man Of Steel) are only behind the Twins when it comes to their pitchers being able to get outs from the mound. That will likely be their kryptonite (see what I did there!) in the end. 

While piling up K’s is a good way to run up a pitch count and has starters walking a fine line between plowing through lineups quickly and coming out in the 6th inning, the Tigers starters do their defense a favor by limiting their need to get outs. In other words, the Tigers pitchers lead all of baseball in accumulating strikeouts. Nearly 70% of the Tigers 674 K’s come from the rotation. 

The upshot of this and how it could portend to another deep playoff run for the Tigers goes back to Schoenfield’s observation of strikeouts, for and against. (See, no advanced stats there!)

You’ve played yourself a quality hand of cards to win October baseball games if you’re team strengths are avoiding K’s (like Little League coach said, make them make a play) in your lineup, but hoarding them while on the mound.

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