Tigers or Indians...Who Ya Got?

The Oakland Press put this one out there written by Jim Ingraham titled “Pitching will lead Indians past Tigers in second half”. Obviously, this made my spider senses tingle a bit.

But before we dive into it, let me make it clear that I can honestly see any of the Tigers, Indians, White Sox, or even those jerk Twins somehow winning the Central this year still. There are logical reasons you can list to make a case for each team. Kurt at BYB has done a fine job this week doing just that if you haven’t been paying attention. (And shame on you if you haven’t. Now that there’s no baseball, Kurt’s actually writing about baseball. Ha…ScottSizemoreisawesomejustadmititdammit.)

With that in mind, we’ll take a look at Mr. Ingraham’s thought process on why the Tribe will prevail. Keep in mind, this isn’t just some clown writing this. Jim Ingraham has been an Indians beat writer for twenty-six years. He is a longtime member of the Baseball Writers Association of America and a Baseball Hall of Fame voter and has won several Ohio and and national awards as a columnist.

From that, I can only assume that he is an old, white guy. I don’t tend to play nice with those folks.

But, I’ll make you a deal, Jim. If you make sense, I’ll be nice. If you don’t, I’ll act like a foul-mouthed child. I have issues.

Deal? Deal.

Finally! A year when the Indians and Tigers are both good at the same time!

I hear this statement a lot and just don’t get it. Maybe it’s because I’m right on the Ohio/Michigan border, but someone will say, “Boy, both teams are doing well. Isn’t that great”, anytime Detroit and/or Cleveland aren’t in last place.

No. No it isn’t. I’m a Tigers fan. I don’t want the stupid Tribe to EVER win a game, unless maybe it’s against Boston, New York, or Chicago/Minnesota (depending on their records at the time). I hate the Indians. If it were up to me, they would be contracted from baseball and all of their fans would be individually drowned in Lake Erie, live on pay-per-view. Think of how much of a better world that would be.

So no, Jim. It’s not a good thing. And as an Indian fan, as I’m assuming you are, you should be wishing that Miguel Cabrera gets drunk and runs over Justin Verlander before driving off the Ambassador Bridge. I know I would be if I were in your shoes.

As the Indians and Tigers begin the second half of the season with just a half game separating them in the Central Division, the best thing the Indians have going for them is their advantage over the Tigers in the most important aspect of the game.

White guys I’ve never heard of? They've got a lot of those.



It’s the main reason, 

Main reason? Or are there others?

probably the only reason,

Oh. Okay. You should've just said that.

I like the Indians to win the division over the Tigers.

Gotcha so far. At least you’re not going with something silly like “intangibles” or “grittiness”. We’d have a problem that way. Please continue.

That’s not to say the White Sox couldn’t leap-frog both teams and win the division, 

They probably will.  Godless bastards...

but the discussion here is which team — Cleveland or Detroit — has a better chance to win the division.

Good. I don’t want to think about Chicago either.

I’ll take Cleveland.

You’re crazy. Continue.

The Indians, quite simply, are the least flawed team in a division filled with flawed teams. 

Come on. Cleveland's filled with flaws. For one, they play in Cleveland. And secondly, I've seen their roster. It's awful other than maybe three guys.

I checked the flaw index at Baseball Reference and Cleveland’s at +18. Chicago and Detroit are +11 and +12 and that’s better than the Tribe, Minnesota (+19) or KC (+1323).

Hey, if you’re gonna talk about divisional flaws and not elaborate, I’m going to make up meaningless stats. That’s just how I roll.

What the Indians have going for them most is what the Tigers have going for them least —

What, Cleveland always plays their BEST NINE? Sorry, Jim, I’m still used to Detroit “journalism”.

pitching. The Tigers’ biggest flaw is their pitching — which is the Indians’ biggest strength.

That’s iffy, man. The Tiger pitchers are underachieving quite a bit, other than Verlander. And everyone on the planet knows the Tribe pitchers have been overachieving. I expect Detroit to get better and Cleveland to get worse.

But to be fair to you, when talking just about the first half, you’re right. But to be fair to me, you’re supposed to be talking about the upcoming second half. I think you might be in for a rude awakening.

And for the record, our biggest flaw is the goof playing third base. No matter which goof is there.

And the last time I checked, you win with pitching.

The last time I checked, you win by scoring more runs than the other team. Great pitching helps, sure…just ask San Francisco, but for the most part, it’s the Boston and New York powerhouse teams that tend to win more.

But I’m nitpicking, again, I apologize. Proceed.

The Indians are a prime example of that, because their hitting is horrible. Awful. A rally for them is a 2-0 count on their leadoff hitter.

Sweet. I’m liking the Tigers chances more and more. I love when others do my work for me. Thus all these FJM pieces I do. Harf…

Consider this: In his last 12 starts Tribe pitcher Justin Masterson has a 2.87 earned run average — and a record of 2-6! In those six losses the Indians scored a grand total of six runs. That’s one per game. That’s awful. That’s the Indians’ offense.

The last time I checked, you said you win with pitching. Guess not.

But as bad as their offense is, the Indians still were in first place in the division for most of the first half of the season. 

Key word: most. Who’s in first now? Boo-yah!

EDIT:  Cleveland just beat worthless Baltimore to move back up a 1/2 game.  Doh...

On May 23, Cleveland was 30-15, up seven games on Detroit. The Tigers have yet to click, yet still have overtaken the Tribe in the standings. Leading up to the break, Detroit lost five of their previous six series matchups before taking three of four from KC. They’ve been terrible, and yet have STILL played better than the Indians.

Still so confident?

How? Because their pitching was sensational, especially their bullpen, which is the best, and deepest, in the American League.

Big deal. Bullpens are like the weather. They can change overnight. And the Valverde/Benoit/AlAl/Coke combination isn’t something to overlook, either. With Phil in the pen, I think the Tigers will be quite fine when they settle eventually on a #5 starter. Nate Robertson could come in and pitch better than Fausto Carmona has for Cleveland this year.

As for the kids in Cleveland, it’s only going to get harder on them in the second half. Especially with the league a lot more familiar with those young arms now.

Consider this: Joe Smith hasn’t allowed an earned run since May 8, his ERA for the season overall is 0.85 — and he’s probably only the Indians’ fifth-best reliever!

Consider this: The last two seasons, Joe Smith has thrown 34 and 40 innings. This year, he’s already up to almost 32. In the four years before this, his career best ERA was 3.44. Also, one bad inning or two and that ERA will skyrocket. Ask Joaquin Benoit.

I do not fear the mighty Joe Smith. And while Chris Perez, Rafeal Perez, Tony Sipp, and whoever Vinnie Pestano is are all having fine seasons, none of those guys scare me, either, with Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Alex Avila, Brennan Boesch, a healthy Magglio Ordonez, and Jhonny Peralta around.

For most of the first half the Indians had four relievers with ERAs under 2.00. All-Star closer Chris Perez has 21 saves, and going back to August 12 of last year his saves-to-blown-saves ratio is 31 to 1.

Jose Valverde is perfect this year in save opportunities. Also, Perez has four losses. He can be hit.

The Indians rank first in the division and third in the league with a bullpen ERA of 3.18 ERA. Their bullpen won-loss record of 15-9 is the best in the league.

Won-loss record with relief pitchers? Please tell me you have something more. Bring up the starters. After Josh Tomlin’s 10-4 record, the next most impressive W-L record is Carlos Carrasco’s 8-6. My point, if I have one, is win-loss records don’t tell you much.

The Tigers’ bullpen? A 4.68 ERA — second worst in the league — and a record of 12-13.

Brad Thomas and Enrique Gonzelez allowed 21 earned runs in 20 innings. They’re both gone. Phil Coke is currently back where he’s comfortable and where has something to prove…the bullpen. I have an inkling that that 4.68 number will come down a bit in the second half.

Also, to steal from Kurt’s nice work, the Tigers are 37-2 after leading after 6 innings. They’re 40-0 when leading after 7. And they’re 43-0 when leading after 8. The terrible Tiger bullpen isn’t as terrible as you think.

Detroit does have the single best pitcher in the division and probably in the league in Justin Verlander, but he can only pitch one out of every five games. Tigers starting pitchers have a 4.08 ERA, but if you take out Verlander, that ERA jumps to 4.80.

Cleveland has a young pitcher pitching way over his head in Justin Masterson, but he can only pitch one out of every five games. The other starters? Tomlin’s ERA is at 3.81, Fausto Carmona’s at 5.78, Carrasco is at 4.28, and Mitch Talbot sits at 6.33.

I’ll take Max, Rick, Brad, and whoever Dave goes out and buys.

You’re forgetting that, you know. We’re going to add someone. Cleveland’s owner is only going to add more apathy to the fanbase.

The three winningest starters for Detroit — Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Rick Porcello — are a combined 30-14 with a 3.64 ERA.

The three winningest Indians starters — Josh Tomlin, Carlos Carrasco, and Masterson — are a combined 25-16 with a 3.53 ERA.

That’s a wash.

So that’s a wash.

Beat ya.

The Indians’ team ERA — starters and relievers— is 3.96, which is ninth in the league. The Tigers — even with the best pitcher in the league and maybe in both leagues — are at 4.27, which ranks 11th in the league.

Dude, I’m gonna fall asleep. Get to the offense. You guys can’t hit. That’s why you’re going to lose.

Where the Tigers have a huge advantage is offensively. It’s no contest. 


Or is it?

No. It’s not.

Detroit is fifth in the league in runs scored, Cleveland seventh. The Tigers are sixth in the league in home runs, the Indians ninth. The Tigers do have a major advantage in batting average — fourth in the AL to the Indians’ 10th — but let’s go to the stat that many baseball people feel is the single most important way to judge team strength:

Don’t say it…

Run differential.

Darn it. Dude, if you have a bad game and lose 18-1, that is going to skew those numbers to hell. Especially when you have Brad Thomas pitching from time to time.

The Indians are at plus-4. They have scored four more runs than they have allowed.

The Tigers are at minus-7.

You’ve still got some games left to play with the Red Sox. We don’t. Get back to me after that.

Also, Magglio’s health(ier)y now. Guillen’s coming back. August is coming, and Ryan Raburn is about to turn into Superman. Add that to Mig, VMart, Jhonny, Boesch and company. The Injuns aren’t going to be able to match up to that with Pronk, Asdrubal , and their supporting cast of Jack Hannahan, Austin Kearns, and Matt LaPorta.

Not exactly a landslide — but to win a division you only have to win one more game than the second place team.

To win THIS division, it’s going probably be who wins more against each other. The Tigers and Indians play each other 12 more times this year. I guess we’ll find out then.

I also like the Indians because they have won several games the way teams that win divisions frequently win games when it’s their year. The Indians have 14 wins in their last at bat, the most in the American League. Ten of those 14 have come at Progressive Field, four of those 10 on home runs, two of those four on walkoff GRAND SLAMS.

Oh. So you’ve been lucky. Even better. Luck eventually tends to run out. Good luck hitting GRAND SLAMS every game.

Can you say karma?

I’d rather say LeBron James. (Still funny.)

See? I can be civil when I want to. I didn’t even curse once. It was a pleasure speaking with you, Jim.

That changes next time. In a day or two, I wage war…with the troll army.