Blog Entry

Revisiting the 2009 AL Central Finish

Posted on: March 31, 2010 3:12 pm

With Opening Day creeping closer and closer, I began to think again about how 2009 ended for my Detroit Tigers.

A solid six game division lead over the Minnesota with a month to go.  A huge series in the final week of the season that ended in 2-2 split with the Twins.  “Game 163” that was so epic, even the fans on the losing end could appreciate how great it was.

That’s a tough way to end a season.

Then I started looking at the numbers.  Lots of people accused the Detroit Tigers of collapsing in the final month of the 2009 season.  How else could you define blowing that six game lead?  Here I will attempt to present the counter-argument:

Heading into the last month of the season (September 5th to October 4th) the Tigers record was 73-61, and they held a 6 game lead over the Twins (67-67).  To that point in the season, the Tigers had played with .530 winning percentage, while the Twins had an even .500 record.

From that point forward, the “collapse” began.  Over the next 28 games, the Twins began a tear including separate five and six game win streaks.  Their winning percentage jumped over 175 points, from .500 to .679, winning 19 out of the last 28 games they played.  The Twins had 10 games of 7+ runs scored, and five games allowing one or zero runs over the last month.

During that time, the Tigers winning percentage dropped only 66 points, from .530 to .464.  The last month did include their longest losing streak of the season, 5 games, but they had previously had two 4-game losing streaks.  The Tigers season average was 4.56 Runs Scored per game, yet in the last 28 games that number dropped only 0.24, to 4.32 RS per game.

I could go on and on with stats like these.  The more you look at it, the more the numbers spell out one simple fact: the Twins came and got the division far more then the Tigers choked it away.

I’m not trying to twist statistics to make myself feel better.  I realize that had the Tigers won only one more game in the last week of the season, there would have been no Game 163.  They would have gone on to face the Yankees, and probably suffered the same fate as the boys from the Twin Cities.  I’m just trying to present the facts from a different angle.

The Tigers 2009 season was a classic case of a team overachieving, and making people believe they were better than they actually were.  Heading into the season with a 20 year old starter, and a ton of other question marks, finishing only a game out of the division lead wasn’t a bad end result when you look at the big picture.

That being said, from this point forward I will not refer the end of Detroit’s 2009 season as a choke job, but simply as “The Twins Tear”.

Category: MLB

Since: Apr 2, 2009
Posted on: April 1, 2010 5:24 pm

Revisiting the 2009 AL Central Finish

The Tigers 2009 season was a classic case of a team overachieving, and making people believe they were better than they actually were. Right on Lazy!  Last year on April 1st who would have thought the Tigers were the best team in the central?  Not me, not you, and not many who follow either the Twins, White Sox or Indians.  But Mauer was out at the start, and the Twins pitching in the first half was boarderline awful, the White Sox stumbled, and the Indians, well... before they traded most of their franchise, the DL welcomed most of their offense.  So our Tigers took the lead in the division before summer and somehow held out to almost the very end.  Almost.
Everybody seems to only remember September, and thats too bad.  It was a good season, from start to finish.  Just unfortunate for all of us Detroit fans that Minny had a poor start and a great finish.  Game 163 was ridiculous, and painful, so, so, painful.
It still cracks me up that the same guys who wanted Maggs cut, were calling for Leylands head when he gave the man a day off in September!
Looking forward to another year of Tigers baseball, its almost here.

Since: Nov 26, 2006
Posted on: March 31, 2010 7:21 pm

Revisiting the 2009 AL Central Finish

When I read your blog I immediately thought of the Miricle Mariners of 1995.  The 1995 M's have been credited by fans and announcers with "saving baseball in Seattle".  What the team accomplished was amazing as they rallied from a 13 game hole in early August to win the division in a 1-game playoff.  They played very good baseball, but like the Tigers they cannot take sole credit for their tear.  The Angels, who at one point had kept pace with Cleveland as one of the teams to beat, suffered two 9-game losing streaks in the stretch run.  As awesome as the M's run was, it took an epic collapse on the part of Anahiem to allow them to even become a factor in the division race.  This link has an article to a few of the biggest collapses in baseball history.

Detroit was disappointing down the stretch, but their poor play is hardly a collapse by baseball standards.  The Mets of recent memory are much better examples as they were expected to be competing for the World Series.  I agree with you that the Tigers were victims of the percentages catching up to them mixed with a red hot Twins team.

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