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Jim Leyland Must Be Fired

September 26, 2012

Baseball

Let’s assume that Jim Leyland won’t be choosing to leave the Tigers after this year. Let’s assume that he’s looking for another contract extension with the team after his 7th season with the Tigers comes to an end, whether that is October 3rd or Detroit wins the World Series. No matter how well the Tigers do this season, Jimmy Smokes should not be allowed back into the clubhouse.

I know, this idea sounds incredibly harsh for a manager that has a .533 winning percentage while in Detroit and he was voted 2nd in the 2011 AL Manager of the Year, behind the sensational and well-loved Joe Maddon of Tampa Bay.

For christsakes, Jim brought us an AL pennant in 2006 right? He got Detroit to the ALCS last year. He brought us our first division title since 1987. NINETEEN EIGHTY SEVEN! He did those things just last year for us; we mustn’t forget what Leyland has brought this team from.

But really, that’s the issue isn’t it? We need more and we deserve more. Those milestones are nice and all, but a team with a payroll of $119 million has a very serious advantage over a division that averages $80 million.

The AL Central division has no ace outside of Comerica Park: The last one I would consider has to be 2009’s version of Zack Greinke. Chris Sale may prove me wrong, he is having a fantastic season and at 23 years old he looks like he’ll be a force for a long time. The Royals haven’t had a pitcher below a 4.0 ERA since Greinke’s 2009 season, yet seem to have us weary every time we play them. This is all despite the Tigers 71-50 record against KC with Leyland as skipper.

Justin Verlander, last year’s MVP, is arguably the best pitcher right now in baseball. Last year, he had an unbelievable season, and this year, fans in Detroit get upset if he doesn’t throw eight shutout innings with two hits, every time out. With greatness like that, you’d think the Motor City would ask for more out of their manager than mediocrity.

The AL Central lacks the kind of hitters that Detroit has. Hell, the whole Major League would love to have a 1-2 punch of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Cabrera may win the Triple Crown and MVP this year. Fielder, is having a “down” year when it comes to home runs at a measly 28, but I think he will become a better hitter in the AL than he was in the NL. His batting average is up to .309, by far the highest of his career and he’s not always swinging for the fences anymore. With a fast Austin Jackson and a slimmed-down Cabrera getting on base, he’s hitting for contact and doing a great job of moving the base runners. If Prince hits a single, Jackson is going score from second most of the time, so he’s learning and changing his game for the betterment of the team.

How can the Detroit Tigers not be in out right first and running away with this division? Well, it’s a team sport and Detroit fans will note many issues that they supposedly see this team failing in, without any supporting evidence. Let’s look at some of those critiques.

“The Tigers just can’t hit the ball.” Oh really? 9.10 hits per game is good for 5th in the AL. The team has the seventh best record in the AL, so this is to be expected and I don’t see it as a major hindrance, as Kansas City sits at 3rd only behind Texas and Los Angeles, and they’re 12 games back. Their team batting average .269 is 3rd in the AL. The rest of the division ranks like this: .266 KC, .262 Minnesota, .255 Chicago, .250 Cleveland.

“The Tigers get runners in scoring position, but can’t bat them in.” This seems to be one of the biggest complaints about Tigers’ hitting. Detroit just can’t get those runners past the plate once they get them in. Well, the Tigers are 3rd best in Major League Baseball at stranding runners…meaning they don’t strand a lot. 3.19 runners per game to be exact. Doesn’t seem like a lot to me. Looking more into it though, there is a problem: The team is 4th worst in the AL in runners left on base (this includes not in scoring position). Is this a stat that really makes a difference? Sure, but with the kind of hitting that Detroit does, it shouldn’t decimate them in such a weak division. For instance, the New York Yankees are below them, leaving 14.71 batters on base per game. Who are the only two AL teams below the Yankees? Well, you know, AL Central rivals the Twins and Indians, of course.

“The Tigers have inconsistent pitching.” I’ve heard this one two, and I’ve felt the same thing through parts of the year. But baseball is all about the slumps and hot streaks. You just have to hope you hit them at the right points. Team ERA: 4th in the AL at 3.75. Walks per game: 2.71, second in the AL. Home runs allowed: 0.95, good for third in the AL. Strikeouts per walk? Barely behind the AL number one Yankees (3.09) with 3.08. Truth is, this team has one of the best corps of starting pitchers in the American League and arguably, the best with Max Scherzer pitching his heart out this year.

“The Tigers can’t turn a double play or play defense.” I don’t want to even touch this one. With Brennan Boesch not in the lineup, the defense isn’t as horrid, but still, the numbers can’t lie. The Tigers are last in the AL with 0.79 double plays a game turned, which doesn’t help ground ball pitchers like Rick Porcello on the mound. The Tigers are in the middle of the pack with errors at 0.62/game, so they’re not just messing up everything.

So where’s the issue on defense? Well, this is my opinion, just like the whole of this article, so I’d say it’s really a problem of a lack of defensive prowess. For instance, using UZR, a measure for total defensive measure that quantifies how many runs a player saved or gave up, we can see that Detroit Tigers only have three regular starters that are even measured as average on the scale, Jhonny Peralta (10.5), Omar Infante (10) and Austin Jackson (2.5). Ok, I’m throwing out UZR because those numbers just do not pass the eye test. Sabermetrics has worn on me for offensive / pitching statistics, but defensive still can be iffy.

Let’s be honest and just say, the Tigers aren’t good on defense.

The last straw: As Detroit fans know, Jimmy Smokes has been dividing us for the better part of his seven years here. Almost as badly as the mediocrity icon himself, Brandon Inge, who finally was let go this year. This organization can be praised for its loyalty, as it seems to stem from its owner, Mike Illitch, but sometimes loyalty has to have bounds. Once it becomes a bad business decision, in a professional sports team, decisions have to be made and the bloodletting must be stopped. Leyland hasn’t brought this team to a status as one of the better baseball teams in the league by himself and many would argue that he has stopped them from getting to their ultimate goal. He has left players on the bench, while opting for lesser players in Don Kelly, Ryan Raburn, and Brandon Inge. This year, he singlehandedly killed Delmon Young’s hot streak, whether you believe in that or not, by sitting him and playing Don Kelly in the lineup instead, while DHing Prince Fielder. Sure, Young had a .150 batting average against Masterson. But Kelly had just over that the whole year (exaggeration, but not much). He over-manages, under-produces and doesn’t get the most out of his team as a collective. He hasn’t since 2006.

I spent the majority of this article writing about where the Tigers stand past 154 games this year. The reason: they should be winning this division easily. And they’re not. They have the seventh best record in the AL, are tied with a Chicago White Sox team they have won 2/3 of their games against this year and have a losing record against the bottom two teams in the division that are 129-181 combined this year.

I have never been a Jim Leyland hater, nor have I ever wished for him to be fired. But this year is the last straw. The continued mediocrity cannot be tolerated in Detroit. The Tigers have three of the best players in Major League Baseball. No other team has anything like that. Jim Leyland has got to go.

On a lighter note. The future is bright for this organization:

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About Mike Gazdik

Born in Detroit, raised in Warren, MI and now located in Grand Rapids, Mike has lived in Michigan his whole life: totaling 22 years. He currently is Vice-President of The Farm Club, a blog that is growing daily with new writers and readers. He enjoys offering research driven articles on many different subjects, but mostly American football. The goal of The Farm Club is to give aspiring college writers the ability to write on what topics really get them ticking, while sharing their insight and feelings with a large reader base. www.thefarmclub.net If you think you'd like to contribute to The Farm Club, contact the blog on Twitter, Facebook or through email. Information is listed on the blog's webpage.

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16 Comments on “Jim Leyland Must Be Fired”

  1. Matthew Milko Says:

    Put a shirt on RanD

    Reply

  2. rand Says:

    MY NAME IS RAN D AND I WILL POST HOWEVER MANU TIMES I WANT THIS IS THE USA LAST TIME I CHECKED

    Reply

    • Mike Gazdik Says:

      Hahahahahahahaha.

      Reply

      • rand Says:

        Hagahahahahahahahahahaha what is up now jimy leyland is beating the yankees 2 o and u still think he should be fured who do u think he should replace with the yankes manager???/ idiots haha ha

        Sent from my iphone

  3. rand Says:

    the ridiculusness of this article is so high it amazes me there are still prople out there hatin on jimy leyland. excuse me who is in the second round of the yoffs and who is the namager of said team?? do u realize there are 30 teams in baseball and there are only going to be 4 left tommorow and the tigers are 1 of them?? look at the tigers: u have 3 good pitchers and 3 respectible hitters. WHAT MORE DO U WANT HIM TO DO.. HE IS USING 6 PLAYERS TO MAKE ARUN AT THE WS…… id love to see u do that idiot

    Reply

    • Mike Gazdik Says:

      Firstly, check the date the article was written.
      Secondly, your comment was quite possibly the most profound thing I’ve ever read. I am so glad that you could contribute to the discussion in such a meaningful and thoughtful manner.
      You have changed my mind. I see the light. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

      Reply

      • rand Says:

        just me sheddin some light into the ridiculisness of youre article bro u high cuz the ricidulisness of your article sure is? no i will not check thr date 1st of all cuz its not relavent at all

      • Mike Gazdik Says:

        Lol. Thanks for reading “rand.” 🙂

        I do appreciate that you took the time to not only comment once, but twice.

  4. knowhitter Says:

    I think this is all a little premature. would you want to fire Leyland after another deep playoff run?

    Reply

    • Mike Gazdik Says:

      As I stated in the article, I’d fire him if the Tigers win the World Series. But he’d be walking out anyway.

      Reply

    • Mike Gazdik Says:

      Well, I just said that’s what I believe he’d be doing at his age. Walking out after a World Series win would be the routine thing to do.

      But, hey, I assumed a lot of things at the beginning of the article. This article was written when the Tigers clawed their ways back into first (or the White Sox lost first place, your call on semantics). And my stance is pretty solid on the issue, to be honest.

      As I said before, I’m not a Leyland hater in any way. If you live in the Detroit area, there’s quite a bit of loudmouths that get on the radio and call for Leyland’s head after a loss. This is a buildup of 7 years of watching, waiting and finally it just feels right.

      Reply

  5. Anonymous Says:

    The day he sat he started Kelly over Delmon that one game is because Delmon asked Leyland himself to be out of the line up because of his history against whoever that particular pitcher was.

    Reply

    • Mike Gazdik Says:

      If you show me the quotation on that, I’ll believe it. But never before. Delmon was 3/20 against that pitcher if I’m not mistaken. And on a ridiculous hot streak. There’s no way a professional player of any caliber would want to sit down while playing the best games of his year. And, never would a player back down from a challenge like that knowing he’s been hitting everything his way.

      I just can’t bring myself to believe that in any way. In fact, if memory serves right, Leyland said that was a game he had pegged for Delmon to possibly sit more than a week in advance..

      Reply

  6. Mark Says:

    The reason the Tigers are bad is because of the bullpen. You didn’t mention it once, but the tigers bullpen is awful and blows to many games. We have great starters and hitters, which you discuss, but you need finishers which the tigers do not have.

    Reply

    • Mike Gazdik Says:

      This wasn’t an extensive piece on what was wrong with the Tigers, more about how they are underachieving. But, I could agree and in hindsight should have mentioned bullpen statistics, which are compounded in the team pitching stats.

      But while the Tigers bullpen annoys and scares fans, it’s really about average when stacked against the MLB. The Tigers complete saves 71% of the time (MLB average: 72%), let 31% of inherited runners score (MLB average: 29%) and bullpen ERA is middle of the pack as well at 3.77 (although 9th in AL). It has actually improved on last year’s total of 3.93.

      Point is: you’re right that the bullpen needs improving. But, I wouldn’t say 1. The Tigers are bad. or 2. That it’s even nearly the whole reason they aren’t where they should be at this point in the season.

      Now, Jose Valverde has had a dreadful season in terms of stats. He ranks tied at 20th for save percentage out of 30 closers that have 15 or more saves this year. He’s still walking too many and has the second worst K/BB ratio in that group. The batting average against is also way too high, so people are hitting and walking their way onto the bases against him. The 5 blown saves are pretty normal, however.

      Who’s near the top in every category? Fernando Rodney. What an odd year it is for baseball.

      Reply

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