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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

League-wide offensive struggles don't faze Leyland

If you thought the Tigers’ team batting average — which has crept up to .255 with a pair of nine-run outbursts in the first two games of the series vs. Chicago — was a localized problem, rest assured, it’s not.

The White Sox (8-13) haven’t hit a lick so far, either, contributing to their slide of 1-9 slide. Chicago came into Sunday’s game having hit .197 in their last 11 games, with just 32 runs scored.

The topic came up when Tigers manager Jim Leyland was talking with White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker, who’d played for Chicago when Leyland was a coach there.

“He said they really haven’t hit yet, and they’re fourth in league in runs scored. But he was making the point that, ‘Well, we saw (Oakland’s Brett) Anderson, (Trevor) Cahill, (Anaheim’s Jered) Weaver, (Justin) Verlander ... I mean, that’s got something to do with some of that stuff. I mean, pitching’s pretty good. That’s got something to do with what happens,” Leyland said, pointing to the Tigers’ recent outburst almost being an anomaly.
“What gets lost in the shuffle sometimes is that we beat two good pitchers. We’re going to face another real good one today (John Danks), and then we’re going to face (Seattle’s Felix) Hernandez, and then we’re going to face that new phenom they got (Michael Pineda). It doesn’t let up. That’s just the way it is. Go to Cleveland, we’ll probably see (Justin) Masterson, who’s really tuned it up, going to come home and play the Yankees ... and so, it’s just a never-ending thing."

It’s not just these two teams, either.

If the American League’s current league batting average of .248 held up, it would be the lowest since 1972. MLB’s also on pace to have its lowest-scoring April since 1992.

“I think there’s a lot of factors. The pitchers are good, the weather’s been horse(bleep). ... I don’t think the offense will be what it was, during the slow-pitch time in the American League,” Leyland said.

The trend isn’t a huge concern to the manager, though.

“I don’t care about anybody else in baseball, I only care about my own team. But it’s encouraging to me, because we have track records. That’s what I’ve said all along, and I’m not going to deviate from that. That’s what we have, that’s what we’re banking on, like everybody else is,” he said.
“So I’m banking on track records. Victor Martinez is going to hit, if the book doesn’t lie — and the book doesn’t lie. Magglio Ordonez is going to hit. I think everybody probably has a feeling right now that they’re looking forward to when it happens, because all teams have guys with track records. I mean, the White Sox are going to hit, the Twins are going to hit. I mean, when you say hit, is it going to be back to four or five years ago? Probably not. But they’ll hit. I mean, it’s in the book, and I’m a big believer in the book.”

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