Ejection gives Leyland new angle on offense

For much of these first five weeks, Tigers manager Jim Leyland has been watching his Tigers offense from the dugout and wondering why a team with so many dangerous bats has been struggling to get going. His first ejection of the season might have given him the angle to figure out why.

It came while he was watching the final six innings on TV.

“When you’re in the dugout, you can’t always tell [plate discipline], but one of our problems — and I was talking with [hitting coach Lloyd McClendon] after the game about it: One of our problems, and we’ve watched some of it, but we swung at a lot of balls,” Leyland said. “We’re not going to hit if we swing at the kind of pitches we swung at tonight after the third or fourth inning. I mean, we just did not show plate discipline, we did not grind out at-bats, and we swung at a lot of balls. We’re too good of a team to do that. Our hitters are too good to do that. We made a lot of outs on balls, and we swung at a lot of bad pitches. So that’s one thing we’re going to have to do a little better at, but we’re very capable of that, and we will.”

Is that a product of a team that’s pressing at the plate, feeling the pressure of expectations for a team that was supposed to pound the ball? Maybe, Leyland said.

“You’re getting a little anxious, wanting to do good,” Leyland continued. “You can’t wait, and that’s what it kind of looked like. But I watched this game like a hawk, sitting here, watching on television, and you can see so much more than you can see from the bench. And it was bad pitch after bad pitch. I mean, everybody that came up pretty much swung at some bad balls. We’ll talk about it. I’m not going to talk about it after this win.”

Of course, it’s the same angle most fans — and more than a few reporters who haven’t been at every game — have been watching all season. So now Leyland can say that he sees it the same way. It’s an angle available to players and coaches when they’re looking at video, but it’s different just watching the normal course of a game as it happens. In the natural sequence of a game, the regularity of the bad at-bats stands out.

It also costs a little perspective — there was one swing and miss from Raburn that Leyland particularly noticed, he said, only to find out later it was a hit-and-run play — but that was a one-pitch difference on the regular theme.

“When you’re just observing a game, sometimes you see things different,” Leyland said. “We’re just swinging at too many balls. We’re not even giving ourselves a chance. We’re not making a guy work.”

Of course, the stats sheet provides another angle, and for the season, they’re not even close to the top of the list in strikeouts. They’re fifth-lowest among the 14 American League teams with 207 strikeouts, compared with 252 from the league-leading White Sox and 239 from the second-place Mariners. Both of those teams are hitting for a lower batting average and on-base percentage than Detroit (.251/.312).

The Tigers rank in the middle of the pack among AL teams in plate appearances per strikeouts at 5.22, eighth-highest among the 14 AL teams according to STATS.

In other specialized categories from STATS, however, the difference shows. They’re taking just 52.6 percent of pitches thrown, the lowest percentage among AL teams. They’re swinging at the first pitch of an at-bat 29.1 percent of the time, which is a league high. They’re missing on 22.1 percent of their swings, sixth-highest in the league.

 

32 Comments

Thanks, Jim. We see it frequently.

It’s time for a new voice in the hitting coach position…

Maybe you should get kicked out more often! Cabrera looks lost at the plate. And, Fielder with his singles…oh yeah, he hit a home run. He will have more dingers than Miguel.

I think cabby losing the amount of weight he has is affecting his swing. he’ll come around but maybe not until he stabilizes his physique/weight. anyone else think that is why he is batting like inge

Nah! No way. I have pictures of him when he first came to the tigers and he was slimmer than he is now.

Did he really say these things? Are you kidding me? He thinks every “Tom, Dick and Harry” are idiots. He doesnt need to be ejected to see these things. Has he not heard of a video room? Give me a break.
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These are the kind of comments that frustrate me with him.
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I am glad that we pulled out the win. Great catch by Kelly.
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Win the series tonight.
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Go Tigers.
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— Bob

Don”t most coaches watch video tape?

Coaches, yes. The manager, not sure. Leyland usually delegates the mechanical analysis and the scouting to the coaches.

hmm with any luck the skipper saw how awful raburn is swinging. does raburn have any toledo options left?

Is it possible for someone with the organization for eleven years to have options left?? In his last ten games he is hitting over .200 and last night he took another pitch to right for a hit. Going the opposite way is key for him.

There are about a million comments one could make on this story and most of them uncomplimentary. I’ll stick with two:
Shouldn’t the coaching staff and manager be looking at video of complete ABs on a regular basis, especially when a team is not hitting?
Hopefully Leyland will drop the “people don’t understand” line from his interviews. Yes we do. We have eyes, and sometimes they’re better than yours, Jim.

Speaking of eyes, I”m going to assume that Cabrera’s eyes are being checked following that orbital fracture. I’m also going to assume that Miguel would say something if there was a problem. There is a healing process involved here that needs to be followed closely for a man in his line of work.

Good point, Rich. Miggy is a gamer and those eyes better be A-OK. #39 had better be in the lineup tomorrow night when Colon starts for Oakland.

I wonder if there is a job title, Hitting Quality Control Video Analyst???

One would wonder if there is really a job called “hitting coach”

You take a video-friendly coach like say, Don Slaught, and it could become a real job. Break down approach rather than swing mechanics.

We been swinging at bad pitches for years, why should this year be different, maybe its Lloyd’s secret weapon, hit bad pitches into the ground until you wear out the shortstop….

Pingback: Jim Leyland IS ‘Old School Baseball’, You Guys | Walkoff Woodward

Glad to see that Leyland recognizes the problem.
Tigers are second in the league, tied with Chicago in swing pct on balls outside the strike zone, at 30.9 pct. Only the Angels are worse.

The Tigers also lead the league in swing pct on balls in the zone at 67.2 pct.
Overall, the 47.7 pct swing rate is the highest in the league. The Tigers are ninth in the league with an 80 pct contact rate on all swings. Information is from fangraphs.

Jason, was there a higher strike out rate overall in MLB this April as compared to last April???

The fact o he matter is none of us knows what’s going on behind the scenes. Maybe Leyland doesn’t watch video but I would assume Llyod is. And maybe it was just an interesting vantage or perspective he is getting, that he appearently made a mistake sharing?. I think Cabby is fine, he has hit plenty of balls hard they just aren’t finding holes or hitting them right at people. And I assume if you are all going to crucify Llyod you are going to give him credit for Jackson or Dirks? Or credit last year when they hit so well? Why does nobody. Ever give credit?

i’m not getting on llyod for our hitting woahs. I think that there are reasons for why certain guys aren’t hitting quite as good as they should…like Prince being in the AL now, Delmon and Ryan hit well in ST and now are struggling (that’s baseball), Cabby has lost weight and had the eye injury, and alex and boesch aren’t particularly veteran hitters yet and will continue be streaky until they mature.
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The important thing is some part of the offense is working…enough that you can get enough offense to win series. I think JL’s way of sparking guys (i.e. sticking people in spots they don’t belong in – in order to get them going) has hindered us from getting guys scored. That’s partially why, IMO, we have had so many men left on base this season so far.

There was a write-up a while back that Austin was working with Reggie Jackson. I refuse to give not-so-legendary Lloyd credit for anything on the tigers. Dirks was a gamer long before he reached the Show. Cabrera is fine, he will hit 400+ at the end of the season and everyone will say “See i told you he was fine”. You can’t expect Prince and the big cat Cabrera to do everything eventually my arch-nemesis, Mr. Second Half Ryan Raburn is going to HAVE to hit. Right now he’s just rally killer #1 just like the 3rd baseman we catapulted out of town was.

If you go back and read the artical it said he worked with him when he was with the Yankees several years ago. He tried to get him to get rid of the leg kick. But Austin brought it back. Lloyd got him to get rid of it again. And Dirks as much as I like has had about 20 minutes in the show, he is not a 340 hitter, as much as Raburn is not a 150 hitter or whatever he is right now. I love how if a player does well the player gets all the credit, while the coach has nothing to do with it, while if they do bad it’s all the coaches fault, not the player!

I’m sure i haven’t seen as many years of ball as you GK but i agree AJ and Raburn aren’t at their statistcal averages. Raburn always decides to show after the All Star Break, AJ being more aggressive at the plate will end up better than last year. Dirks I am all in on, the guy is an old school gamer that knows how to hit at the top of the order. I saw flashes last year but i told the missus last Sunday when we were at the game that I was real close to buying his jersey. JL makes the lineups day to day, Jeff Jones rolls out the pitchers, and its Lloyd’s job to get these hitters to make adjustments according to the pitcher they’re facing. Despite the numbers during the our unbelievable streak ending the season the once fired Jeff Jones has not inspired the Pen. Lloyd hasn’t prepared anyone for any pitcher since he’s he’s been there, and JL continues to roll out lineups based on past performance as opposed to the right now. You are right that the burden ultimately falls on the individual players but a coaching staff should be able to distinguish flaws, problems, and adjust accordingly. The pieces may fall in place by act of a higher power and talent of the players but you cannot honestly thing the Pittsburgh trio plus Jeff Jones are doing much to better the team do you?

Rich, good one on Don Slaught. Why did he leave? What about Andy VanSlyke? Dirks was hitting long before he met Lloyd. I will give him credit for working with AJ. We need a leader on this team. Everyone seems so “polite” I would like to see something more. Like Justin, I am glad he showed some emotion and got mad. Go Tigers! –Dave

Somewhere, it was mentioned that JL kept these same coaches around. My first thought was Andy VanSlyke. I really liked him, but I think with Jim, it’s his way or the highway. Don’t forget about the pitching coach that was relieved of his duties mid-season.
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Idk, has CC ever lost it on the mound? We know Weaver has. Maybe it’s just their makeup or in their genes. I wonder if Fister has ever lost his cool.
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As Jim Price would say: they still look discombobulated. Go Tigers!!!

I don’t think it can be said that “all” are crucifying Lloyd. Disparaging the coaches is just the easy way out for some people who have nothing better to say. Don’t mean to offend anyone but “that’s just the way it is.” The fact is, Lloyd is the hitting coach and every team has one the past 40 years or so. Before that, they didn’t exist. Bottom line, the players go up to the plate, not the coaches.

talking about Llyod….does anyone agree that Gene would be a better manager when JL gets booted than Llyod? I mean, I know we will miss him terribly as 3rd base coach during those games…..or can the 3rd base coach even turn into the stand in manager?

gosh i didn’t want to look but….ugh……in the past 25abs…… cabby has a .392 OPS

You can’t quantify the loss of Victor. We can all see how his absence has affected our team.

This isn’t on victor, This team is trying too hard. Boesch wants homers on every swing. Officiating hasn’t helped much so far BUT the boys look frustrated in most of their AB’s. The worm will turn, but we’ll all keep griping until it does.

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