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  1. I’m well aware that Boesch is sustaining his high batting average due to BABIP. But regress it, and you still end up with a .290 hitter with a big ISO and a passable eye. Not the kind of guy you want to take out of the lineup for Carlos Guillen. Boesch will outslug Guillen by .100 points and Guillen’s, say, .020 difference in OBP doesn’t make up for it.

    Comment by Eric Cioe — June 30, 2010 @ 4:23 pm

  2. Also, I think you mean to say “Jacob Turner and Casey Crosby are young pitchers …” etc. rather than “Casey Crosby are.”

    Comment by Eric Cioe — June 30, 2010 @ 4:24 pm

  3. $##@!

    yes I did

    Comment by Matt Klaassen — June 30, 2010 @ 4:27 pm

  4. Please edit. I found three errors.

    Comment by Randy — June 30, 2010 @ 4:28 pm

  5. I second what Randy posted; there were a lot of mistakes.

    Comment by Fan — June 30, 2010 @ 4:29 pm

  6. I also can’t see sitting Boesch now to get more playing time for Raburn or Scott Sizemore.

    Also, Sizemore’s demotion wasn’t just due to his batting. His fielding range was poor, something that struck observers subjectively and comes through in the UZR statistics, to the extent one can trust a small sample size:

    Comment by Detroit Michael — June 30, 2010 @ 4:34 pm

  7. His career minor league ISO is 161 (273/319/434). Regression will likely take a toll on more than just his BABIP.

    Comment by Gopherballs — June 30, 2010 @ 4:36 pm

  8. Thanks for the comment

    BABIP isn’t the only thing that regresses, though. And regression to the mean is just part of the issue — there’s little in Boesch’s minor league history that suggests he is this skilled.

    We don’t need to worry about OBP vs. SLG. woBA (i.e., linear weights) clears it up right away. We don’t have a ZiPS RoS projection posted for Boesch that I can see, which is too bad, but let’s take a look at CHONE’s updated projections from June 1 (Boesch has 100 more PA since then, of course, but while that’s not much of a sample, well, his 225 PA so far this season aren’t, either):

    Boesch: .247/.281/.398, -18 runs (18 below average) per 150 games

    Guillen: .271/.350/.438, +10/150

    Now, CHONE is relying on heavily on MLEs for Boesch, and he does have 100 more MLB since then, but even if you think that’s a significant sample, do you really think it’s enough to make for a 25-30 runs/150 difference?

    I understand why the Tigers are riding Boesch, but trying to define when a “hot streak” is over or merely paused can lead to a lot of waiting… I understand them playing him now, but they need to have a quick hook with him (hey, they ditched Sizemore after 115 PA), as they have better options. A platoon with Raburn (again, this season is only a small part of his performance record) would be a good idea for Boesch as well. His 52 PA reverse platoon split in the major leagues is not close to being significant, and he had pretty typical platoon splits in the minor leagues (they were huge this season in Toledo).

    Comment by Matt Klaassen — June 30, 2010 @ 4:39 pm

  9. sizemore just landed on the DL in AAA ball…

    what does everyone think of porcello’s upside? whats his ceiling?

    Comment by wallin — June 30, 2010 @ 4:41 pm

  10. Toddler care and baseball blogging don’t mix.

    Comment by Matt Klaassen — June 30, 2010 @ 4:46 pm

  11. Sizemore is just one option (when he gets healthy) they should look to for marginal improvements. His UZR sample is small enough to be basically irrelevant, although Guillen has a pretty big sample of being a bad 3B and SS, and 2B won’t be any different. Also important is that it seems like 2B would be a bad idea for an injury-prone player like Guillen, especially if he’s just learning it. His bat is valuable to the Tigers, and losing it could cost them. Not that it’s a terrible idea in the abstract to try him at 2B when the other option is Ryan Raburn…

    Comment by Matt Klaassen — June 30, 2010 @ 4:51 pm

  12. First, I guess by “among others,” you are including the $28 million the Tigers are paying Nate Robertson and Dontrelle Willis to play elsewhere. I would say those are two contracts that are pretty significant coming off the books, and should probably be mentioned specifically. Taking into account those two contracts, and the fact that Cabrera, Verlander, Scherzer, Jackson, and Boesch are under control for so long, the Tigers should NOT be throwing all their eggs into this season. They will have buku bucks to spend in the offseason even with a payroll trim and Magglio’s contract vesting.

    Second, I think the writers here at Fangraphs are participating in groupthink here when it comes to Ryan Raburn, who has 800 career PAs with a league average bat. Yeah, he had a good year last year. Do you and Dave Cameron really think that he has now broke out and is this above average player at 28, which is what happened in 2009? Personally, I would say he had a career year last year, and would expect him to regress. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great guy to have on the bench, but it’s going to have to be an awfully protracted slump that Boesch is going to have to get into before I’d give his at bats to Raburn, even in a platoon.

    Third, I would argue that with Sborz, Fien, Weinhardt, Schlereth, and Perry down in AAA, there is simply no way that the Tigers should be trading anyone for relief help. That would be very foolish.

    I have to be honest, Matt, I don’t think you did your homework on my ballclub.

    Comment by The Nicker — June 30, 2010 @ 4:52 pm

  13. Well, sometimes good players emerge out of nowhere; someone turns a corner and all of a sudden their histories are irrelevant. Even if it’s not even a 50/50 shot, that possibility is there with Boesch, and if he’s for real, he becomes a massive asset for the Tigers. Why not ride that wave and see if it takes you somewhere?

    Comment by Lucas — June 30, 2010 @ 4:56 pm

  14. I think the budget section is seriously underestimating the amount of salaries coming off the Tigers books for 2011. Verlander is due a $6m raise, but other than that, they are lopping nearly $50 million in salaries (don’t forget Willis, Robertson, Laird and Everett) off the budget at the end of this season. That figure does not even account for Ordonez, which would be $18 million more. Although he is most definitely going to vest his option, barring an injury. In my opinion, that potentially puts the Tigers in a position to take on a contract which extends beyond the 2010 season if the right player was available.

    Comment by mscharer — June 30, 2010 @ 4:57 pm

  15. I concur also. People have been saying that this is only a “hot streak” but it has been going on for 2 months now. Of course,he isn’t a .330 but to predict he is going to fall off the face of the planet (.247 AVG .398 SLG)) is a bit much. Especially when there are zero signs of a regression and his replacements can’t even hit at a replacement level.

    Comment by PJ — June 30, 2010 @ 4:58 pm

  16. Totally agree on the Raburn thing. There is no way he should be taking away any of Boesch’s AB’s. Raburn is what he is, a 4th OF/ Utility guy who is terrible defensively.

    Comment by mscharer — June 30, 2010 @ 5:01 pm

  17. Sorry you didn’t like the post, and although it would have been more clear to list every single contract coming off the books (or not) or linked to Joe P.’s piece from earlier this season on the Tigers budget situation for next year, given the alloted space, I don’t think I deprived anyone of anything.

    Also with regard to your first point: I’m pretty sure I didn’t say the Tigers should throw all their eggs in one basket, but rather that they do have a reasonable shot at the playoffs given their roster and should looks affordable moves _without mortgaging the future_ to take advantage of their situation.

    With regard to the second point: see the points above re: Boesch made by myself and othres, but if you’re going to dismiss Raburn’s 2009 based on it being just one “career’ year, then why exactly should we buy into Boesch being good for two months when he’s had a ~.160 career ISO) in the minors.

    On the third point: again, I’m not saying they need to trade anything significant, and likely disagree about how good some of the other options are.

    I realize that I’m not going to be able to cover every ballclub as well as die-hard fans of those clubs are, so I’m sorry you feel like I blew it. I’m not going spend time defending the effort I put in on these posts, though, since I know what I did do.

    Thanks for dropping by.

    Comment by Matt Klaassen — June 30, 2010 @ 5:02 pm

  18. The Ordonez option is technically only $15 million, as there is a $3 million dollar buyout regardless. Still, I agree with your point.

    Comment by The Nicker — June 30, 2010 @ 5:02 pm

  19. I stand corrected (kinda), it’s $15 million with no buyout. It’s still $15 million though.

    Comment by The Nicker — June 30, 2010 @ 5:03 pm

  20. On the contrary, I very much liked your post. I read everything I can on Fangraphs so naturally I’m happy when they cover my favorite team. Part of the reason I like it is because I get to chime in and add my two cents, and can feel knowledgeable about doing so.

    I guess i came off a little harsh because I only contributed negatively. It’s not that i don’t agree with you on various things you wrote, like the Guillen/Sizemore situation and the holes at the back end of the rotation.

    The Boesch argument you mention is a good one, but there are differences in age (25 v. 29) that make one feel a little bit better about Boesch going beyond Raburn, and I think most people feel that Boesch is better in the OF than Raburn (SSS + eyeball disclaimer). Boesch had a climbing K rate as he moved up that ladder, but still was never at the 26% Raburn has for a career, and their walk rates are actually similar.

    I just personally think that Raburn is not trending up, but rather that his true self is more of an amalgamation of the back and forth years he’s had as a pro. So I say give Boesch a ride for now. After all, if he doesn’t work I can think of a few good corner outfielders to spend money on this offseason (Crawford – pipe dream, Werth – more realistic), rather than letting Raburn run with it, who we can expect will likely be (slightly) below league average.

    Comment by The Nicker — June 30, 2010 @ 5:14 pm

  21. Thanks for the follow-up.

    I don’t think the Tigers should be counting on either Raburn or Boesch for next season, just to clarify, I meant for this season. If Boesch does show that he can keep it up without batted-ball luck, a platoon in left field could work well beside Jackson (whose June very much demonstrates how little the previous two months meant in terms of sample size) and Ordonez (coming back for better or worse; my post made me sound more enthusiastic about it than I am)., given that they both have pretty typical platoon splits (I haven’t regressed Boesch’s, yet, but Raburn’s were last time I checked).

    Still, that’s assuming Boesch shows he’s going to keep the power up, and I have my doubts. Would be happy for Tigers fans if I was wrong… I’m a Royals fan, and I’d like to believe the 2008 Mike Aviles was The Real Him, too.

    Comment by Matt Klaassen — June 30, 2010 @ 5:21 pm

  22. I think a fair comparison is Garrett Jones, who had a career minor league line of .258, .312, .450 (.192 ISO). His partial 2009 season in the minors showed improvement (.307, .348, .502), a 4th year of continuous improvement at AAA. (Note: Jones spent more time in the minors and is 4 years older than Boesch, but I still like the comparison)

    Boesch is a .273, .319, .434 hitter in the minors (.161 ISO), though I think it is fair to point out that his power came around in AA in 2009 (.275, .318, .510 for a .235 ISO). He mashed in 66 PA’s before getting the call to Detroit this season.

    Now, after Jones call up last year, he went on to hit .293, .372, .567 w/ a wOBA .396 over 358 PA’s to finish the season, far exceeding expectations. A regression was anticipated by basically everyone (his HR/FB rate was 21.2% in 2009) and it happened, but that doesn’t make him a poor player, he’s still quite useful. His current line .284, .354, .447 w/ a wOBA of .352 is solid and he has a wRC+ of 119 and a 1.3 WAR to this point in the season. ZIPS rest of schedule predicts a .284, .343, .481 line with a .361 wOBA, so he’s basically meeting those expectatiosn. He isn’t what we saw in a small sample last season, but he has more value than many may have expected.

    Boesch brings a similar skill set to the table, though to this point through 225 PA’s he’s even exceeded what Jones did last season. Time is on his side as well as noted previously. His .373 BABIP is unsustainable (career MiLB mark of ~.305 or so). As that comes down, so will the avg, obp and slg%. He’s also hitting HR on fly balls more than 18% of the time, a number that should regress some over the course of the season.

    That said, I see no reason why Boesch can’t be a slightly better version than what Jones is for the Pirates and produce as an above average player for the Tigers. While regression is very likely to come, it won’t be the end of the world and what will remain is a good baseball player who has moderate on-base ability, good contact skills and solid power, with defense as the only liability.

    Comment by spindoctor — June 30, 2010 @ 5:21 pm

  23. “then why exactly should we buy into Boesch being good for two months when he’s had a ~.160 career ISO) in the minors”

    Because there seemed to be development in 2009. His ISO hovered around .130 until 2009 in AA, when it shot up to .235. In his short time in AAA in 2010, it was around .240, too. This season in MLB it’s around .270. So yeah, he’s probably hitting over his head, not only in his BABIP-driven AVG, but in his SLG, too. But not that far over it, if you believe that he figured something out in 2009 in AA and is continuing that this season.

    To me, Boesch looks like a .290/.325/.525 hitter over time, because I think he figured something out in 2009 at Erie. Scouts who have looked at him recently seem to think he’s cut down his stroke but lost little or no power. .850 OPS from a corner outfielder, especially a cost-controlled one, is pretty good.

    Comment by Eric Cioe — June 30, 2010 @ 5:54 pm

  24. First off, I would like to see the Tigers take a chance and trade for Bedard. He wouldn’t cost much and could help us against the lefties on the twins. Secondly, i vote no on platooning boesch, he crushes lefties

    Comment by Matt — June 30, 2010 @ 6:04 pm

  25. Raburn is not a natural outfielder, he’s a utility player that is still learning to play the outfield. Currently he’s hitting .211 with a .290 OBP. His value for the Tigers is not with his bat, it’s with his defensive versatility. His career is practically hanging by the thread and he probably won’t be the Tigers next year when Ryan Stieby and/or Casper Wells compete for an outfield job. If Don Kelly were gone, Raburn would be the lowest man on the totem pole.

    Comment by Linuxit — June 30, 2010 @ 6:08 pm

  26. Many people are comparing Boesch’s swing to Justin Morneau’s.

    Comment by Linuxit — June 30, 2010 @ 6:11 pm

  27. To Eric’s point, what really frustrates me about the sabermetric community’s opinion on Boesch is that it all seems to be based on numbers. None of the absolutism around his apparent future regression seems to reference what seems to be an abundance of information from scouts that he shortened his swing recently and balanced his batting stance with improved mechanics. Furthermore that absolutism also doesn’t reference his Inside Edge data which suggests that he doesn’t have a cold spot within the strike zone. Yes, his O-Zone swing rates are high and as his BABIP regresses on those balls that he does make contact with he will regress. But why does that regression take him to Jeff Francouer territory? And why is his power (which was rated as 80 by some scouts) a fluke? Why is it so impossible that he won’t plateau as an Ibanez or Cuddyer type hitter or even 2009′s version of Nelson Cruz?

    The only answer to that question I’ve heard so far centers around PECOTA, ZIPS or CHONE if only because sabermaticians never want their models to break least not for a Tiger outfielder.

    Sure if the guy can’t learn to lay off high heat or inside changeups he’s in trouble. But painting the guy as a below replacement level outfielder without doing any research on why he may have improved and simply relying on his minor league numbers seems a bit unfair and slightly lazy.

    Comment by Andrew Stein — June 30, 2010 @ 7:03 pm

  28. Something interesting: CHONE projected eight home runs for Boesch RoS on June 1st. He’s already hit eight since then.

    Also, most are using Boesch’s career minor league numbers to show that he will regress greatly. However, look at his 2009 numbers alone. Obviously there’s still regression to be expected, but maybe not as much as some think. He could be the epitome of a late bloomer.

    Comment by SATW — June 30, 2010 @ 7:22 pm

  29. Agreed…

    It is like the writers here are saying there is no way Boesch can be this good because he doesnt have the track record, YET Raburn is good because he had one good year at age 28??? come on…

    Comment by Jeff — June 30, 2010 @ 7:25 pm

  30. 2nd point:

    Why is everyone so shocked (for the second year in a row) that The Tigers are playing this well?

    Depending on how you look at it they were EXACTLY as good as The Twins last year and I would argue that the team only improved during the off season.

    Currently the superior talent of The Twins has amounted to .003 points of team OPS and less than half a run of team ERA.

    Yes, the Twin pen has performed better but calling the Tiger pen “thin” after Valverde is a bit of a stretch. The maligned Bonine has actually pitched pretty well as has Phil Coke. Even Ryan Perry had an ERA of 2.41 up until his final 4 or 5 appearances where he was likely pitching injured. Without Perry OR Zumaya things begin to get a bit dicey but a healthy Ryan Perry, Casey Fien (who has always had good minor league numbers) and maybe Daniel Schlereth can probably afford The Tigers the benefit of not having to waste a trade on a reliever.

    Comment by Andrew Stein — June 30, 2010 @ 8:08 pm

  31. If this was an article completely about Brennan Boesch, you might have a point. In fact, it was an article about the Tigers in general, so I didn’t want to go into why I’m a bit skeptical of Jason Grey’s scouting report. It’s difficult to give subtle evaluations of every player.

    Comment by Matt Klaassen — June 30, 2010 @ 8:10 pm

  32. I’m hopeful that Andy Oliver may solve any back-of-the-rotation question. The Tigers have shown that they aren’t afraid to push their young guys into key roles. If the Tigers make a trade, I’d bet it will be a minor one, possibly for a short-term upgrade at shortstop or even catcher if Laird and Avila don’t get going.

    I disagree with a number of things in this piece, but I agree with the assessment of Wilkin Ramirez as a good trade chip. He’s just good enough to be intriguing to someone but not good enough to worry about losing.

    Comment by Brian Hammond — June 30, 2010 @ 8:42 pm

  33. I’m having trouble understanding why Boesch is dismissed as lucky. I see his .373 BABIP, but is there a way he could bat .333 without having a BABIP around there? If that’s true, then no matter what, if Boesch hits for a shockingly high average he is called lucky. I’d just like someone to explain why Boesch is called lucky, considering what I’ve said above.

    Comment by Nick — June 30, 2010 @ 9:04 pm

  34. Because a .300+ AVG for him is luck, and no, its not completely his BABIP. I’m not one expecting him to fall below replacement level, I think (as mentioned way above this post) that he will be a better version of Garrett Jones. I think the regression will come in AVG, OBP and SLG. He doesn’t walk enough to maintain a high OBP — its tied to his batting average, which is currently high due to some luck. He strikes out quite a bit (we should expect 20-25% esp. with him swinging for the fences. His HR/FB rate is pretty high.

    He’s not a bad player — he is what he is. The Garrett Jones comp is the best one I can think of, and I do think he could end up better than Jones because he has time on his side (4 years younger). He won’t fall off a cliff, but I would temper expectations to him being a .260-.280 hitter, .315-.335 OBP, and a .460-.500 SLG%. Many teams can make use of such a player.

    Comment by spindoctor — June 30, 2010 @ 10:37 pm

  35. Another explanation for batters that do better as they move up levels could be that the pitchers are, generally, more consistent … Specifically, they are “around the plate more”.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — June 30, 2010 @ 10:43 pm

  36. I’m not sure why the Tigers would be considered to have an older roster. The only contributors that I would be consider old are Damon, Guillen, and Ordonez. Inge, Laird, and Santiago are vets too but not really a part of the core. Their 2 best players are in their prime, and they have 2 ROY candidates featuring in the lineup. And a kid named Porcello, with whom you never know what might happen.

    So I don’t think there’s any plan to ‘go for it’ this year or any feeling that the window is closing, as the entire off-season was focusing on 2011 and beyond. That said, I think they would entertain going after a contract like Haren’s or a shortstop like Theriot, as they could use these guys, and they would be around the next couple years as well.

    Comment by the fume — June 30, 2010 @ 10:46 pm

  37. He is just centering a lot of pitches right now. Who knows why…..the only thing that is obvious is that this is not the same player that was somewhat struggling in the minors in 2008. He’s the rare case that you can’t really trust what you’re seeing because the numbers say that nobody keeps it up. But you can’t really trust the numbers either because the numbers say what he’s doing right now is essentially impossible.

    Comment by the fume — June 30, 2010 @ 10:51 pm

  38. I don’t think I’ve ever pulled for a rookie position player to make and make it big than Brennan Boesch. I hope he gives the Church of Sabermetics’ parishioners the vapors.

    Comment by catholiclutheran — June 30, 2010 @ 11:07 pm

  39. Is Brennan Boesch another Chris Shelton?

    Comment by Bronnt — June 30, 2010 @ 11:37 pm

  40. exactly. Common sense tells me that anyone who is hitting .340 is likely to have a high BABIP also.
    Only Barry Bonds has hit above .340 with a low BABIP. Does that make Bonds unlucky?

    I find that BABIP analysis is wrong half the time, the other 50% is just lucky analysis. :-)

    Comment by Linuxit — July 1, 2010 @ 2:58 am

  41. If nothing else, the comments sections suggests that The BB needs his own article.

    Comment by ToddM — July 1, 2010 @ 3:57 am

  42. Here was the only error i saw:

    “they have some a few good players and one great one (Miguel Cabrera)”

    Comment by Steve — July 1, 2010 @ 8:27 am

  43. Austin Jackson is more interesting than Boesch, how about an article on both of them. Fangraphs can call them lucky, Tigers fans can leave angry comments, I would enjoy reading that.

    Comment by Steve — July 1, 2010 @ 8:49 am

  44. I did some “clean up” after I posted.

    Comment by Matt Klaassen — July 1, 2010 @ 8:52 am

  45. Is there a statistic that measures how hard baseballs are hit? Perhaps what the Saber-crew is labeling as luck has something to do with the fact that harder hit balls are more likely to translate into hits. Boesch hits the ball as hard as anyone.

    Comment by catholiclutheran — July 1, 2010 @ 10:04 am

  46. I don’t think anyone expects boesch to 330/380/600 over the long term, but the more I watch what he’s doing the more I think it’s reasonable to expect him to settle in as a 275/330/500+ type of guy over the next few years. That’s a legit #5 hitter you can stick in RF and pay the minimum and is a guy you can build around.

    He has supposedly cut down his swing a bit from the when he was in the minors and has retained his massive power:

    To people who watch the kid everyday, it just sounds silly to suggest he sit to make room for sizemore, guillen or raburn.

    Comment by don — July 1, 2010 @ 10:31 am

  47. The garrett jones comp is just lazy. yeah, they both burst onto the scene and nobody really saw either guy coming. similarities end there.

    garrett jones, 28, was a 14th round pick that had stalled out at at AAA for the previous 4 full season and had almost 2500 AAA at bats and been released by two organizations before he made splash for a couple months last year. Boesch, 25 was a 3rd round pick that had progressed a level each year and only had 66 AAA at bats before tearing up the better league.

    The difference is that boesch has room for improvement to his game that jones doesn’t. I don’t think he’s much more than a 275/330/500 guy over the next few years, but I do think he’s got a good chance of putting up a couple few 30/100 seasons and that’s a legit guy.

    Comment by don — July 1, 2010 @ 10:51 am

  48. I’m a Tigers fan and I really did enjoy this article and I agree with most of it but I have to disagree with a couple things namely the Boesch thing and the part about Sizemore. The Boesch thing has already been beaten to death by comments on here so there isn’t much I can add to that so I’ll just leave it be.

    As far as Sizemore goes I would just like to point out that by actually watching him I thought it was clear that he wasn’t ready. I don’t want to be one of those guys that dismisses the stats and just tells people you have to actually see him play but in this situation I think it’s the case. Yes Sizemore had a low BABIP which hurt him but I’m 90% sure that’s not why the Tigers sent him down. If you actually watched him play he really did look lost out there, he just didn’t look like he belonged. He was recovering from an ankle injury so he might not have been 100% but it just looked like he wasn’t ready yet. And I’m pretty sure that’s what the Tigers seen.

    I mean the Tigers have kept the likes of Don Kelly, Dane Sardhina, Clete Thomas, Ryan Raburn(when he was struggling) and now Danny Worth among others on their roster before and all of which aren’t exactly offensive juggernauts so it’s not like they just look at a players .avg. and get rid of him if it’s bad. They clearly thought by watching him that he either wasn’t 100% healed or that he needed more time which is why they sent him down.

    So I do think that Sizemore will be part of their long term plans as he should be I just don’t think he should be on the big league roster right now and I certainly don’t think he should take away any ABs from Boesch or Guillen. Even though he would be a slight upgrade defensively over Carlos I think this team needs offense even more and even though Guillen isn’t the same hitter he was in 06 I still think he’s a better offensive player than Sizemore at this point in Sizemore’s career.

    Comment by Dwight S. — July 1, 2010 @ 10:55 am

  49. Hit F/X should give us more details when it’s fully implemented and available. It will be extremely valuable for understanding hitting and everything else.

    Of course, there are batted-ball classifications into GB/LD/FB right now available from a variety of sources, although there are issues with it: big buckets for a variety of balls, observer bias from park-to-park, etc. Moreover, as you rightly get at, there is a difference between a David Eckstein’s average line drive and Ryan Howard’s! That’s what pitch f/x will hopefully get at.

    I don’t want to get too into this, because the issue with Boesch is not just his BABIP in the majors — it’s his career performance in the minors in various categories.

    Having said that, researchers have found a fairly robust relationship (relative to the difficulty of projecting BABIP in general) between line drive rate (LD%) and BABIP. Obviously, more sophisticated expected batted ball (e.g. xBABIP) estimators incorporate player speed, handedness, park adjustments, and so on, but for the sake of a crude investigation, let’s just investigate the notion that Boesch hits the ball hard enough to support his current level of performance.

    Boesch currently has a line drive rate of 16.7% (.167) in the 2010 MLB season. His BABIP is .372. Subtracting LD rate from BABIP, we get .205.

    Now let’s look at the top three qualified LD% hitters from 2008-2010 (get a good sample size) to see how he stacks up to other “hard hitters.” This is merely a anecdote, of course, not a full study, but as a crude tool, it might show us something.

    Boesch 2010: .372 (BABIP) – .167 (LD) = .205

    LD leaders 2008-2010 present day:

    David Wright .365 (BABIP) – .251 (LD) = .114
    Todd Helton .329 (BABIP) – .245 (LD) = .084
    Ryan Howard .320 (BABIP) – .235 (LD) = .085

    Again, this doesn’t prove anything on its own, but as an anecdote, let’s check is out — these guys all have much higher LD rates over a much longer period than Boesch’s 2010 MLB. He might hit the ball harder in a way the big buckets can’t get at, but do you think his (less frequent) line drives are hit _that_ much harder (and it would be a lot) than David Wright’s, Todd Helton’s, and Ryan Howards?

    Comment by Matt Klaassen — July 1, 2010 @ 11:03 am

  50. don:

    I said they should “be ready” to make room to give other his PAs if/when he starts to drop off. And might I add that while one can make good arguments against Sizemore and Raburn taking them, Carlos Guillen is another case entirely. Boesch should not be taking PAs from Guillen (if that’s a choice they have to make, which isn’t necessarily the case).

    Comment by Matt Klaassen — July 1, 2010 @ 11:06 am

  51. Thanks, but I didn’t suggest Sizemore should get PAs over Guillen, I said (or meant to say) that it might be a good idea to move Guillen off of 2B to preserve his health, and that they shouldn’t be afraid to give Boesch’s PAs to Guillen.

    Comment by Matt Klaassen — July 1, 2010 @ 11:08 am

  52. Whoops, yes you did say that, sorry I don’t know what I was reading the first time. My mistake.

    Comment by Dwight S. — July 1, 2010 @ 11:23 am

  53. I appreciate your response. Thanks for attempting to answer my question without having the proper statistics to do so. Couple of things…

    I’m no physicist, so I may be incorrect, but Todd Helton gains an extra advantage as all balls tend to decelerate at a slower rate in thinner air, correct? It probably doesn’t effect his LD rate, but perhaps disqualifies him from being a comparative example in attempting to measure the speed of batted balls.

    Also, is there a way to find out if Boesch’s ground balls tend to translate into hits at a greater rate than average? Again, I’m not a math guy either, and it’s essentially a cursory investigative effort from just watching every Tigers game so far, but I seem to recall plenty of groundballs either through the infield or ruled a hit as the fielder couldn’t come up with it?

    Comment by catholiclutheran — July 1, 2010 @ 12:58 pm

  54. I did discover that Boesch has a pretty high IFH% for someone who also has pretty strong slug% and home run rates. The top of the IFH% list is filled with slap hitters and speedsters. As I think about it, left handed hitters that pull the ball at a higher average would have a harder time converting ground balls into hits as the right side of the infield has less distance to throw the ball which allows more time to knock a ball down and still get the out. Perhaps this is a round about way of saying he is hitting the ball hard. Too many variables for me.

    Comment by catholiclutheran — July 1, 2010 @ 1:37 pm

  55. I wonder how prudent it is for the Tigers to continue to add salary. Detroit is fast becoming one of the poorest cities as the auto industry relocates and you see abandoned buildings and factories everywhere.

    Could this affect Detroit’s deadline moves.

    Comment by BX — July 1, 2010 @ 2:33 pm

  56. Peter Gammons is that you? Mike Ilitch bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars a year through a casino industry is probably not as worried about the economy and ticket sales to pay for his baseball team as most people think.

    Comment by TheSuperRichArentPoor — July 1, 2010 @ 2:58 pm

  57. Seems you haven’t been paying much attention to Raburn’s career. He’s had two good (partial) seasons in the MLB, and has an outstanding minor league track record. His track record is considerably superior to Boesch’s, save that he never peaked as high as Boesch has thus far.

    Comment by Larry Smith Jr. — July 1, 2010 @ 3:25 pm

  58. I would agree with this. It seemed to me objectively that the Twins (sans Nathan), White Sox, and Tigers were roughly equal heading into the season. I ranked them MIN, DET, CHI, but I felt that it would be reasonable to argue for any alignment of those three teams. As a Tiger fan I didn’t go into the season expecting to win the division, but it would shock me none if we won the division. I don’t see it as some kind of coup.

    Comment by Larry Smith Jr. — July 1, 2010 @ 3:33 pm

  59. I agree with this. To me, it’s almost worthwhile to table projecting or expecting anything from Boesch until the end of 2011 when he has something of an MLB track record. You put it the best that I’ve seen it…… can’t trust what you’re seeing but you can’t trust the numbers.

    Comment by Larry Smith Jr. — July 1, 2010 @ 3:36 pm

  60. I agree with Dwight on Sizemore — Although while agreeing with him, I also thought that once he went back to Toledo and began dominating again he should’ve been back in Detroit fairly quickly at Don Kelly’s expense. Sizemore looked like a player playing without confidence when he was up, but one glance at his track record shows that he didn’t have much more to prove at AAA, and I figured that to send him down to work on whatever ailed him in the MLB was prudent but once he went a couple of weeks destroying the ball, he should’ve been back.

    I still think his future in Detroit is bright. And on the bright side of that, by sending him back down to the minors Detroit delayed his free agency. So it ought to work out.

    Comment by Larry Smith Jr. — July 1, 2010 @ 3:43 pm

  61. First, my condolences on your Royals fanhood.

    Second, Brennan Boesch isn’t much of a hot topic for Tigers fans is he?

    I really don’t see a problem with suggesting that the Tigers get prepared to offer Raburn more at bats if/when Boesch cools off, but I think my fellow Detroiters are so hopeful that he becomes the lefty power hitter we’ve always wanted, that we’ve become a bit hypersensitive to the suggestion that he might not be Roy Hobbs.

    I will say, though, that those of us who are lucky to see the kid play on a regular basis see something a bit different about him. He never looks scared or confused, and when he hits the ball, he hits it really, really hard…like, Miggy Cabrera hard. That said, I think teams are starting to play on his aggressive tendencies by pitching him 6-8 inches inside. The Twins did it all series, and if I’m not mistaken, it was the first series this year in which he didn’t hit a homer.

    On a macro level, I’m wondering about the Tigers offense as a whole. I’ve mentioned this in other forums, but I’ll try it again here. They rank:

    5th in the AL in AVG (.272)
    5th in the AL in OBP (.341)
    6th in the AL in SLG (.418)
    5th in the AL in OPS (.758)
    Yet they rank 9th in the AL in runs scored (347), and 7th in runs per game (4.51).

    Does this suggest that they are due for an offensive upturn, or is it an indication of a bad bottom of the lineup and an inability to come through in the clutch? They are the 3rd worst team in the AL when it comes to scoring a guy from 3rd with fewer than 2 outs (48% success rate).

    Comment by Chris Brown — July 1, 2010 @ 4:33 pm

  62. Nice look at the Tigers, Matt. I definitely think we should go for it this year too as I suggested they go out and get Stephen Drew way back in May and now it appears they are looking into that very option. I wouldn’t be averse to moving Crosby or Turner in a deal that netted Haren, Oswalt or Lee either.

    As for the Boesch analysis, it’s been beaten to death a bit and I didn’t make it through all 60+ comments ahead of mine, but it illustrates how stats-only analysis can be a bit misleading or at least lead to an obvious conclusion. If I didn’t see Boesch every single day, I’m sure I would come to the same conclusions, but watching him play makes it hard to believe he will fall off the table & hit sub-.250 the rest of way.

    I do believe there will be some regression from a .340 batting average, but not 90 points worth. And the power is legitimate. And as someone else had mentioned, though his composite minor league numbers aren’t overwhelming, there was clearly a development step from 2008 to 2009 that you (& the CHONE figures) *seem* to wholly discount based on the analysis.

    Of course it’s easier and safer to project that someone riding high without the minor league pedigree to do so will fade because if you say he will remain very productive and he doesn’t, the naysayers come back with, “well his minor league number said this fade was coming, you idiot!” so I understand going the safe route, but it isn’t without flaws, either.

    Overall, I agree with some parts and disagree with others. I’m just glad my favorite team is in the thick of it with a real shot to make it to the postseason. The Twins won’t be easy to beat, but the disparity isn’t as large as many make it out to be, either. Thanks for the piece, Matt.

    Comment by Paul — July 8, 2010 @ 10:56 am

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