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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

CAPUTO: Can Detroit Tigers compete with Murderers’ Row

Bengough home!

Baseball has had its share of great lineups. Is the Tigers’ current batting order next?

It may not be far-fetched.

...After a dozen games this season, the Tigers have a long way to go to be mentioned in the same breath with “Murder’s Row” and the “Big Red Machine.”

Yet, it does appear the Tigers have put together one of the most formidable lineups in recent baseball history.

The Tigers’ team batting average is .307 - 30 points better than the next best team (Colorado) though Sunday. The major league average is .250. The Tigers’ on-base percentage is .367 - 18 points higher than the next best team (the New York Mets). The Tigers are in the top five in runs scored and OPS. Their power numbers are average, but who doesn’t believe that will change as the whether warms?

...Left fielder Andy Dirks might perceived as the weak link in the lineup, until it is considered he batted .322 last season with an .857 OPS. Dirks, over three seasons, has had roughly a full 162 games of plate appearances in the major leagues (618 and 564 at bats). He is a .287 hitter with 15 home runs and 67 RBI and a .778 OPS. Not exactly a weak link on most clubs. On some, he might be hitting third.

This Tigers’ lineup is capable of true greatness, perhaps setting the measure for its generation.

Repoz Posted: April 16, 2013 at 09:15 AM | 33 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, tigers

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. SG Posted: April 16, 2013 at 09:48 AM (#4415493)
1927 Yankees non-pitcher OPS+: 137
2013 Detroit Tigers after 12 games OPS+: 116
   2. Rants Mulliniks Posted: April 16, 2013 at 10:41 AM (#4415541)
1927 Yankees non-pitcher OPS+: 137


That's just mean, good lord.
   3. Ulysses S. Fairsmith Posted: April 16, 2013 at 10:45 AM (#4415545)
I'm as big a Tiger fan as they come, but Pat Caputo is an idiot. He's even worse on the radio.
   4. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: April 16, 2013 at 10:49 AM (#4415549)
My grandfather used to tell me legends about how the Murderer's Row Yankees and the Big Red Machine sometimes ranked in the top five in runs scored.
   5. DA Baracus Posted: April 16, 2013 at 10:52 AM (#4415553)
This guy knows it's April, right?
   6. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: April 16, 2013 at 11:00 AM (#4415559)
Does Baseball-Reference have any sort of method for searching for team totals over time? E.g. can I use BBRefPI to find the best team OPS+ since 1950 or something like that? I'm failing to do so but it's possible it is there and I'm just a dope.
   7. SG Posted: April 16, 2013 at 11:11 AM (#4415570)
Does Baseball-Reference have any sort of method for searching for team totals over time?


Not really, although you can fudge it by Game Finders -> Team Batting and then checking the radio button for Find Teams with Most Matching Games in a Season and setting PA >= 0. You won't get anything beyond the basic stats though, no OPS+ or WAR or anything.
   8. Rants Mulliniks Posted: April 16, 2013 at 11:26 AM (#4415583)
The Big Red Machine will always be the best for me. They led the league imn every single offensive category.
   9. McCoy Posted: April 16, 2013 at 11:33 AM (#4415589)
Including nose hairs and body odor!
   10. TJ Posted: April 16, 2013 at 11:33 AM (#4415590)
I'm pretty sure I can give Ulysses S. Fairsmith at #3 a run for his money as a Tiger fan, and I agree with him about Caputo. Anyone making allusionss to anything sucha s this after two weeks into a season is an idiot. And Caputo has a HOF vote, too- he's the guy who said he didn't vote for Biggio because he was on the same team at times as Ken Caminiti, Roger Clemens, and Andy Pettitte...
   11. TomH Posted: April 16, 2013 at 11:45 AM (#4415597)
Q: is non-pitcher OPS+ measured against all other non-pitchers (as opposed to league avg including pitchers)?


observation: kind of funny to opine about a potneitally historic lineup when it's only the 3rd best in the league after 2 weeks. "murderers row", when you are 4th to LAST in home runs? Yeesh.
   12. GregD Posted: April 16, 2013 at 11:48 AM (#4415599)
The Big Red Machine will always be the best for me. They led the league imn every single offensive category.
meh, only 6th in HBP
   13. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: April 16, 2013 at 12:10 PM (#4415616)
The '76 Reds were last in the NL in GIDP.
   14. SG Posted: April 16, 2013 at 12:20 PM (#4415629)
Q: is non-pitcher OPS+ measured against all other non-pitchers (as opposed to league avg including pitchers)?


Nope, too lazy for that.
   15. cardsfanboy Posted: April 16, 2013 at 12:30 PM (#4415639)
I thought we had graduated past the point that people look at batting average as an evaluation tool for quality of a teams offense. The Tigers aren't even as good as the Mets offensively. And even by runs per game they are behind Oakland in the AL (two NL teams are ahead of them, one is the Mets, and the other is the Cardinals who's offense has been clutch godlike this season, and not really that great on the whole)

Is there any reason, anyone would seriously think that the Tigers = Murderers row? You have Prince, Cabrera and Jackson...and hopefully Hunter and Martinez....but that still isn't really the same level.
   16. Ulysses S. Fairsmith Posted: April 16, 2013 at 01:02 PM (#4415699)
Caputo's idiocy aside, Prince Fielder's hot start got me wondering if there were any teams that had three different players win league MVP awards in three consecutive seasons. I was surprised to find that it has happened several times.
   17. BDC Posted: April 16, 2013 at 02:39 PM (#4415853)
Anyone making allusionss to anything such as this after two weeks into a season is an idiot

But, the 2012 Rangers were the greatest team since the 1998 Yankees. They were just misunderstood.
   18. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 16, 2013 at 02:59 PM (#4415890)
Who on the Tigers is going to out-homer every other team in the league? Out-homer any team?
   19. TDF, situational idiot Posted: April 16, 2013 at 03:07 PM (#4415903)
Who on the Tigers is going to out-homer every other team in the league? Out-homer any team?

Fielder (4) has as many HRs as the Marlins; he has more than, and Avila has as many as, KC (2). For being the "next Murderer's Row", the Tigers only have 10 HRs - only 3 AL teams have fewer.
   20. Long Time Listener, First Time Caller Posted: April 16, 2013 at 03:23 PM (#4415936)
But, the 2012 Rangers were the greatest team since the 1998 Yankees. They were just misunderstood.


They were good in the beginning of the season...
   21. SG Posted: April 16, 2013 at 03:27 PM (#4415946)
They were good in the beginning of the season...


Then they went too far.
   22. jdennis Posted: April 16, 2013 at 03:28 PM (#4415947)
just looked up the 27 yanks. thought dickey was already their catcher. guess not.

just imagine their team ops+ non-pitcher, non-joe dugan! so weird, the 3b was clearly the worst hitter. that was one heck of an outfield though. and a really solid staff too.
   23. Sean Forman Posted: April 16, 2013 at 03:57 PM (#4415974)
Q: is non-pitcher OPS+ measured against all other non-pitchers (as opposed to league avg including pitchers)?


Nope, too lazy for that.


B-R's OPS+ exclude pitchers from the league level, but we don't exclude them for the team.

if you want to do a team search on the play index use the total split on the team split finder. Works back to 1916.
   24. Pingu Posted: April 16, 2013 at 04:14 PM (#4415994)
The '27 Yankees are what I build in OOTP when I dont follow my self-imposed rule of not ripping off the AI in trades.

The '13 Tigers are what I build in OOTP when I follow my self-imposed rule of not ripping off the AI in trades.
   25. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: April 16, 2013 at 04:17 PM (#4415998)
just imagine their team ops+ non-pitcher, non-joe dugan! so weird, the 3b was clearly the worst hitter. that was one heck of an outfield though. and a really solid staff too.


I wonder if Dugan was the worst player to be a starter for 5 different World Series teams. BBRef has him worth a hair under 1 WAR/year for his career. Not many dynasties are going to have a starter so thoroughly and consistently below average.
   26. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 16, 2013 at 04:23 PM (#4416005)
I wonder if Dugan was the worst player to be a starter for 5 different World Series teams. BBRef has him worth a hair under 1 WAR/year for his career. Not many dynasties are going to have a starter so thoroughly and consistently below average.

Was he known as a great defender? Maybe the stats are missing something.
   27. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: April 16, 2013 at 04:43 PM (#4416030)
Was he known as a great defender? Maybe the stats are missing something.


He was a converted SS playing 3B for the Yankees, so this is possible. His bio suggests that he was known as a good fielder, but he also hurt his knee in 1924 and had surgery on it, and had a "trick" knee the rest of his career. So he probably wasn't especially rangy. A couple of descriptions suggest a strong arm. I wonder if Dugan was really good at charging bunts and stuff like that, things that had been very valuable at the beginning of his career but not so important by the mid-1920s, even though managers and writers still valued them.
   28. Walt Davis Posted: April 16, 2013 at 05:04 PM (#4416050)
Not many dynasties are going to have a starter so thoroughly and consistently below average.

That's a rather torturous question ... how are we defining dynasty?

The 71-75 A's were pretty good and while they didn't have a consistent starter there, they had a long run of lousy 2B. The Reds and the early 70s O's fit your description though. The Braves were always an interesting mish-mash from one year to the next and such a long run that I'll let somebody else work through them.

   29. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: April 16, 2013 at 05:14 PM (#4416061)
The phrase "Keith Lockhart" leaps to mind, but my memory betrays me as he never started more than 89 games in a season in his long Braves career of mediocrity.
   30. Moeball Posted: April 16, 2013 at 05:26 PM (#4416072)
Was he known as a great defender? Maybe the stats are missing something.


Dugan was known as "Jumpin Joe" so he was thought of as quite athletic and a whiz on defense. His hitting, however, was rather poor. Really sticks out in a lineup like the '27 Yankees Murderer's Row.

The dominance of that team is really shown by their 4 best players all being incredibly healthy. Ruth, Gehrig, Combs and Lazzeri all played at least 151 games of a 155-game schedule (they had one tie that year and, obviously, Gehrig played every game). So the original "core 4" in NYY history were really out there every day all season long, which has certainly got to help, especially when they are all at about peak performance level.

Looked at the WAR leaders for 1927 AL (position players) and Ruth finished 1st, Gehrig 2nd, Combs 4th, Lazzeri 5th. Only Harry Heilmann in 3rd place kept the Yankees from having the top 4 players in the league all in the same lineup. Remarkable.

And, as I mentioned over in the latest Bill James thread, Ruth and Gehrig both had WAA above 9 that year - meaning that, if the entire team had played at the same level they did, NY wouldn't have lost a game all year. Truly historic performance levels.

Of the modern teams, I'm with those who say the Big Red Machine was about the most dominant lineup I've seen in my lifetime. From 1970-77 - a stretch of 8 years - the NL MVP was won by a Red 6 times. It wasn't a Bondsian kind of thing, either, where one guy won the award a bunch of times - those 6 MVPs were spread among 4 different players (Bench twice, Morgan twice, and also Rose and Foster once each). Think about being able to say you probably have the best player in the league on your team - but you could be talking about any one of 4 of your teammates!

As to Caputo - whose brain is apparently Kaput-o - that a voting member of the BBWAA in 2013 still evaluates batters based on batting average - and in ridiculously small sample sizes, no less - is just insane. He's the sort who points to guys who get hot for a few games - especially if they are games in October - and therefore raves about what a "clutch" player this is. By that kind of logic one of the greatest players I've ever seen must have been Ruben Rivera - why, he had an .800 batting average in the 1998 World Series!
   31. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: April 16, 2013 at 05:58 PM (#4416099)
Hector Lopez?
   32. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: April 16, 2013 at 06:02 PM (#4416101)
I never noticed 1927 salary information was on B-R. Dugan was the fifth-highest paid Yankee that year.
   33. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 16, 2013 at 06:12 PM (#4416108)
From 1970-77 - a stretch of 8 years - the NL MVP was won by a Red 6 times. It wasn't a Bondsian kind of thing, either, where one guy won the award a bunch of times - those 6 MVPs were spread among 4 different players (Bench twice, Morgan twice, and also Rose and Foster once each).

From 1954 - 63, 4 Yankees won 8 of 10 AL MVP awards (Berra 2, Mantle 3, Maris 2, and Howard 1). Mantle should also have won in 1958.

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