June 6th, 2011

Ryan Raburn and track records

Teammates congratulate Ryan Raburn (Getty Images)If you read the site — not the blog, the Tigers site — you might have seen the Tigers notes from last Sunday on Ryan Raburn’s slow start and how it compares to previous seasons, especially last year and the similarity of his batting average to this year day to day.

After Raburn hit a grand slam this Sunday to help beat the White Sox, Jim Leyland went to the comparison himself.

“Check what he was hitting last year in May,” Leyland said. “I’m not sure, but I don’t think it was real good. I said the other day I think he’s starting to come around, and I believe it.”

Chronologically, he’s right. As mentioned in last Sunday’s notes, Raburn owned a .186 average on May 29 of last year thanks to a 1-for-22 slump. His .195 average on May 29 this year doesn’t look quite so bad in comparison.

The difference is the number of at-bats. He’s pretty much going at double of last year’s pace on playing time through two months, and he’ll obviously keep that up if he’s playing close to every day at second base. Thus, he has had more opportunity to break out of his slow start this year compared to last.

The Tigers are hoping this is the start of that. He has five straight one-hit games, which have raised his average above the Mendoza line to .201 on the year. As of June 5 last year, he was batting .179. He didn’t top .200 until late June, and he didn’t really heat up until after that. His strikeout pace last year was a little slower than it has been so far in 2011.