They’re not grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr-eat. At all. By any means. But, I have to say, as I see how this season is setting up, I won’t be surprised if I wind up with a lot of Tigers tickets as the season goes along. I think that there is a lot of hidden value in this team if we are responsible about it. I’m also not going to be surprised if the Tigers finish third in the AL Central. That’s right, I said it.
This was a bad team last season, but there were a lot of guys learning on the job and a lot of pitching hiccups to deal with. Also, Miguel Cabrera basically missed the entire year again. In a perfect world, Miggy is back, working on the hidden ball trick and hitting missiles off of pitchers. That would go a long way in aiding my Tigers positions.
This was a team that lost 98 games last season, but there are some signs of life. The Tigers were 45-74 against right-handed starters, but 19-24 against left-handed starters. Also, the Tigers were 43-45 against teams with losing records. They were 21-53 against teams .500 or better. Detroit was also 38-43 at home and 26-55 on the road.
Money Line Spots
Which means you know where I’m going with this. The Tigers at home against bad teams will be a pretty popular play for me this season. Comerica Park has certain advantages for the Tigers and disadvantages for other teams. The outfield is a vast expanse of territory. It is huge. As a result, the Tigers ranked 28th in home runs.
I mentioned how well Rogers Centre in Toronto played on fly balls and line drives and how that was a reason to back the Jays at home in certain spots. Well, Comerica Park ranked 29th in wOBA on fly balls and line drives. Yes, this is a pedestrian Tigers rotation, but guys like Matt Boyd and Matt Moore have a much better chance at home than on the road. We’ll see if Michael Fulmer can get healthy, but these conditions should even help Jordan Zimmermann and wild card Tyson Ross.
Overall, the Tigers staff was 23rd in ERA, 25th in FIP, and 25th in xFIP. The Tigers were 20th in home ERA, but more than half a run lower than on the road. The Tigers were .29 runs better in FIP at home.
On the other side, anytime the price is right, we’ll be looking to fade the Tigers on the road.
The Tigers were a stone cold under team. They were 83-71-8 to the under. Tigers home games averaged 8.55 runs. With a pitching staff that bad, we can assume that the markets aren’t taking home field advantage into the equation enough and the Tigers likely stayed under a lot of 9 and 9.5 totals. Per the KillerSports database, the under was 42-34-5 at Comerica Park with an average line of 8.8 runs. I would expect that to be even better this season.
The Tigers actually allowed 299 runs over their last 54 games of the season. Things really fell apart badly in that area. Maybe we get some early-season value, especially at home and especially when the weather is still cold in Motown.
Individual Players to Watch
Matt Boyd – I highlighted Matt Boyd at length in my season win total preview. That was one guy I had to elaborate on. Boyd had a 1.96/.257/.347 slash against at home with a .263 wOBA and a 2.63 ERA in his 78.2 innings. On the road, Boyd had a .250/.324/.462 slash against with a .338 wOBA and a 5.89 ERA in his 91.2 innings. I think he can be better on the road this year, as he had a 4.71 xFIP and dealt with a 66.7 percent LOB%, but he’ll clearly be a spot play guy in big parks or at home.
Matt Moore – I’m really intrigued by Matt Moore here. He was in Texas last season, which is an awful ballpark for a guy like him. He posted a 6.79 ERA with a 5.25 FIP and a 5.06 xFIP in 102 innings. What gives me pause is that Moore was really bad for San Francisco in 2017 over 174.1 innings with a 5.52/4.75/5.10 pitcher slash.
If we dig deeper, we see that Moore allowed a .318 wOBA at then AT&T Park with a 4.21 ERA over 98.1 innings. On the road, he allowed a .396 wOBA with a 7.22 ERA in 76 innings. I can’t help but wonder if we see Moore post numbers like that at Comerica Park. It isn’t quite on the level of now Oracle Park as a haven for pitchers, but it is probably the best park in the AL at this point. I think we may get some really nice underdog numbers at plus money on Moore at home to play some 1st 5 bets.
Miguel Cabrera – What will Miguel Cabrera provide in 2019? We’re talking about some major injury issues the last two years for Miggy. Last season’s ailment was a ruptured biceps tendon. Cabrera slashed .299/.395/.448 in 38 games before his season ended. He had a 128 wRC+. Miggy’s not going to return to the elite hitter he once was, but before his season ended, he had a 14 percent BB% and he increased his exit velocity from 91.3 mph in 2017 to 94.4 mph in 2018. There’s some thunder left in that bat. His presence would obviously help this Tigers lineup a ton and make me a lot more excited to play the Tigers.