The Tigers are a bit cranky at the moment

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From Jesse Sanchez’s game story at MLB.com following last night’s Tigers-A’s game:

But the mood in the clubhouse took a serious turn and tension surfaced when veteran Octavio Dotel told [Miguel] Cabrera to address the media because it was his job as the leader of the team

Cabrera turned down all interview requests and sat at one of the tables in his dress clothes with his arms crossed. Dotel, still in uniform, sat at the other table and shook his head.

I don’t follow the Tigers as closely as some other teams, but I guess I never really thought of Cabrera as a team leader, as he’s not the most vocal dude around.  But I suppose Dotel would be in a better position to know that.  I also wonder why he wouldn’t talk to the press given that, dude, it’s not like he was the goat in this one.

I do know that, in another city, this would be a much bigger deal than it probably is in reality. And that, if the Tigers win tonight, it makes no difference. Heck, even if they lose it doesn’t. Still, interesting to see.

No one pounds the zone anymore

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“Work fast and throw strikes” has long been the top conventional wisdom for those preaching pitching success. The “work fast” part of that has increasingly gone by the wayside, however, as pitchers take more and more time to throw pitches in an effort to max out their effort and, thus, their velocity with each pitch.

Now, as Ben Lindbergh of The Ringer reports, the “throw strikes” part of it is going out of style too:

Pitchers are throwing fewer pitches inside the strike zone than ever previously recorded . . . A decade ago, more than half of all pitches ended up in the strike zone. Today, that rate has fallen below 47 percent.

There are a couple of reasons for this. Most notable among them, Lindbergh says, being pitchers’ increasing reliance on curves, sliders and splitters as primary pitches, with said pitches not being in the zone by design. Lindbergh doesn’t mention it, but I’d guess that an increased emphasis on catchers’ framing plays a role too, with teams increasingly selecting for catchers who can turn balls that are actually out of the zone into strikes. If you have one of those beasts, why bother throwing something directly over the plate?

There is an unintended downside to all of this: a lack of action. As Lindbergh notes — and as you’ve not doubt noticed while watching games — there are more walks and strikeouts, there is more weak contact from guys chasing bad pitches and, as a result, games and at bats are going longer.

As always, such insights are interesting. As is so often the case these days, however, such insights serve as an unpleasant reminder of why the on-field product is so unsatisfying in so many ways in recent years.