Saturday, September 4, 2010

Catfight: 2010 Tigers vs. 2003 Tigers (July 26th Lineups Only)


In the first half of 2010, we saw Zach Miner, Bobby Seay, and then Joel Zumaya step into vicious Tiger traps and be taken from us for the season. Tragic as that was, our Motor City Kitties kept marching through the AL Central jungle and hung with the leaders into the second half. Sadly, injuries would then take out Brandon Inge, Magglio Ordonez, and Carlos Guillen (twice) to send Detroit into a downward spiral that they still haven’t completely recovered from. Dreams of a first place finish quickly faded away.

Then it got worse. Although misery had been gathering for Tiger fans quicker than lint in the navel of Todd Jones, the low point of the season came on July 26th against the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays and Matt Garza. Garza, the former Twin (of course), no-hit the depleted Tiger lineup and became the first (Devil) Ray to throw a no-hitter in team history.

The first thing that I could think of after that game was 2003. For those of you that weren’t around before 2006, the 2003 Tigers famously lost more games than any team in American League history going 43-119. They came one loss from tying the ’62 Mets for the most losses in Major League history. It was a horrible time that I wouldn’t wish on anyone…other than White Sox fans. And Yankee fans. And Red Sox fans.

Anyway, I still haven’t completely gotten over it. And for some reason, I started thinking about the no-no and 2003 again tonight at work as I watched our Tiger Hens struggle to defeat the lowly Kansas City Royals in extra innings. Exactly how much worse were the 2003 Tigers than the 2010 version on that particular date?  Can I really compare them? Obviously, this year’s batch of Tigers, overall, is much better than the ’03 Cats. Those guys would kill for a Cabrera, a Scherzer, a Verlander, a Jackson…hell, maybe even a Peralta.

So, I got the idea to have one of my silly Catfights using only the particular lineups from the July 26th, 2010 Tigers against the Detroiters of July 26th, 2003. I intentionally have not looked at either lineup yet before writing this introduction so I go into this unbiased. By the way, I will be consulting the greatest baseball site of all time, www.baseball-reference.com, to retrieve these lineups. Let’s see how it turns out after the jump.




Catcher

2010: Gerald Laird
2003: Matt Walbeck

Analysis: On this date for each team, Laird was hitting .182 and Walbeck .189. Though Matt was clearly out-hitting G-Money at this point (ha), I can’t in good conscience give him the advantage here as Laird is a much better overall player than the lifetime backup Walbeck…he of the lifetime OPS+ of 56. (Laird’s is a robust 72. Yuck.)

Advantage: Laird

First Base

2010: Miguel Cabrera
2003: Carlos Pena

Analysis: Pena would bounce around a bit before turning into a stronger Rob Deer for the Rays. Miguel Cabrera is currently the most feared hitter in the American League, if not all of baseball.

Advantage: Big Mig. Duh.

Second Base

2010: Will Rhymes
2003: Warren Morris

Analysis: Tinkerbell was still searching for his first major league hit at this point. Despite his monster game winning triple against the Royals today, he has yet to win me over yet as I can’t get over the fact that he looks like a homeless midget. Morris had a good rookie year in Pittsburgh in 1999 hitting .288 with 15 homers and 73 RBI, but would never again touch those numbers. He’d finish 2003 with a respectable .272 average in 346 at bats, but would never play in the majors again.

Advantage: Push...though the little bastard could change that if he keeps hitting and quits muffing game-ending double plays like he did yesterday.

Third Base

2010: Don Kelly
2003: Eric Munson

Analysis: Eric Munson was a terrible third baseman, but has carved out a career as a backup catcher with several teams. Don Kelly is horrible at baseball and should be taken to the vet and put to sleep. Munson did manage 18 home runs for Detroit in ’03, while Kelly has managed to make me hate him more than childhood cancer with his miserable play.

Advantage: Munson. I would take anyone in baseball history over Kelly, except perhaps Dane Sardinha.

Shortstop

2010: Danny Worth
2003: Ramon Santiago

Analysis: In 2003, Little Ramon was much like Worth, a rookie trying to make an impression. He’s turned into quite the valuable backup over the years for Detroit, while Worth has done little other than get hurt. He does have quite the odd looking chin, though…that’s something.

Advantage: Santiago

Left Field

2010: Ryan Raburn
2003: Dmitri Young

Analysis: Raburn is an enigma wrapped up in a mystery and covered with question marks. I’ve never seen a guy that can play one week like Joe DiMaggio and then the very next week, resemble Joe Schmo. DY’s one of my all-time Tiger favorites and put up the best season of his steady baseball career in 2003 hitting .297 with 29 homers and 85 RBI.

Advantage: Da Meat Hook

Center Field

2010: Austin Jackson
2003: Alex Sanchez

Analysis: Alex Sanchez, in 2005, was the first guy to be suspended for steroid use after the harsher drug testing was adopted by the league. He was terrible with or without the drugs. AJax has done seemingly the unthinkable and made the loss of Curtis Granderson via trade quite easy to swallow for Tiger fans with his Rookie of the Year (hopefully) showing this year.

Advantage: Action Jackson

Right Field

2010: Brennan Boesch
2003: Bobby Higginson

Analysis: Boesch was red-hot during the first half, but has been terrible since the All-Star break. His future is uncertain right now. Bobby Higginson is the greatest baseball player of all time.

Advantage: Higgy

Designated Hitter

2010: Johnny Damon
2003: Kevin Witt

Analysis: Johnny Damon, though struggling in the second half, has been a wonderful baseball player throughout his career and is the only current Tiger capable of taking a pitch. He’s even a borderline Hall of Famer. Kevin Witt…was not. He would disappear from the Major Leagues for three years after ’03, making 19 appearances for Tampa in 2006. He did manage to play in 93 games for Detroit in ’03…that’s how bad we were.

Advantage: Damon

Starting Pitcher

2010: Max Scherzer
2003: Jeremy Bonderman

Analysis: Max is quietly unseating Justin Verlander as the ace of the current Tiger staff. Jeremy Bonderman is the current #4 or #5 starter and will probably be gone in two months. Bondo would be the winning pitcher in the July 26, 2003 game to raise his record to 4-14, before finishing at 6-19. He hasn’t improved much, though, over the years.  Seriously, dude...how hard is it to learn a f-cking changeup. Scherzer is awesome, and even if he wasn’t a much better pitcher than Jeremy, his mis-matched eyes would still give him the win.

Advantage: Mad Max

Other Players Used That Day

2010: Ramon Santiago, Brad Thomas, Enrique Gonzalez
2003: Shane Halter, Chris Mears

Analysis: Ramon and Halter cancel each other out. Thomas and Gonzalez vs. Mears? Meh.

Advantage: Push. No one wins here.

And your winner, barely, by a score of 5-4 (with 2 ties) is our 2010 Tigers! Sad that it was that close, though…a lot closer than I thought it was going to be.

By the way, the 2003 Tigers beat the Royals that day, 5-1, behind two hits and an RBI by Lord Higginson and a 2-run triple by Santiago. Creepy that Bonderman and Santiago played in both games, and I’m sure Brandon Inge was somewhere around annoying Alan Trammell that day in ’03.

Hopefully only Santiago will still be here next year. Ha.

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