Thursday, June 7, 2012

What's Wrong With the Tigers Offense? - Miguel Cabrera

The 3rd part of "What's Wrong With the Tigers Offense?" series is for the Tigers #3 hitter, and maybe the best hitter in the game, Miguel Cabrera. Now Cabrera is having a great season as always, so for this, Cabrera's numbers aren't a problem, for him, it'll be about his plate discipline.

This season, Cabrera in 56 games has a hitting line of .325/.375/.557 and has 12 home runs, 47 RBI (currently 2nd in the AL), 33 runs scored, and even 3 stolen bases (speed kills). The alarming thing for Tigers fans is his on-base percentage being at .375, in 2010 Cabrera had a .420 on-base percentage and in 2011 it was .448, so .375 is down significantly.

Let's look at reasons that Cabrera's not drawing as many walks this year. First off, he's just walking less in general. shows that Cabrera is walking 7.3% of the time this year, which is down from his career mark of 11.0%, and down from 2010 at 13.7% and 2011 at 15.7%.

Cabrera is swinging out of the zone much more often this season. His O-Swing% (percentage of pitches a batter swings at outside the strike zone) is 36.6% this season, which is up from 32.5% last year and 32.7% in 2010, and up from a career mark of 28.9%. His Z-Swing% (percentage of pitches a batter swings at inside the strike zone) of 71.1% is down from the last two seasons at 74.1% and 75.3%, however, is in line with his career percentage which is also 71.1%.

Cabrera is also not making contact as much this season when he chases a pitch with his O-Contact% (percentage of pitches a batter makes contact with outside the strike zone when swinging the bat) being at 68.2%, which is down from 75.9% last year, however, last season was a career high in O-Contact% for Cabrera. When Cabrera swings at strikes though, this season his Z-Contact% (percentage of pitches a batter makes contact with inside the strike zone when swinging the bat) of 91.5% is up from his career percentage of 86.4.

Cabrera is also seeing more strikes this year, because his Zone% (overall percentage of pitches a batter sees inside the strike zone) of 44.2% is up from the last 2 years when it was 42.4% and 40.0%. So it seems that perhaps he's just not drawing as many walks because he's getting better pitches to hit with Prince Fielder hitting behind him in the lineup now. It may be a case though Cabrera is trying to do more with the struggling offense the Tigers have had this season. With such a large sample size, it seems likely Cabrera's walkrate may be down this year, but will get closer to normal by the end of the season.

The 4th part of this series will feature the 4th batter for Detroit, Prince Fielder.

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