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GIF of the day: Everyone was right about Detroit’s defense

Jul 5, 2012, 4:16 PM EDT


Earlier this season I posted some snarky tweet about how few things in life have ever lived up to the hype as much as the Tigers’ terrible defense, which predictably led to tons of Tigers fans telling me that defense hadn’t actually hurt the team very much. Or something, I mostly just remember that there was a lot name-calling involved.

Now that we’re at the halfway point of the season and the Tigers are one of the most disappointing teams in baseball at 40-42 that whole “their defense isn’t that bad” stuff has quieted down, it seems. After all, among AL teams they rank 10th in errors and dead last in both turning balls in play into outs and Ultimate Zone Rating. In other words, the Tigers’ defense has been every bit as bad as everyone expected.

Anyway, today I’ve been watching the Tigers-Twins game and it featured this beauty from Detroit’s defense:

And not to be outdone, the umpires called that a foul ball even though Rick Porcello clearly touched it (and Prince Fielder and Gerald Laird) in fair territory.

Note: If you’d like to send me angry messages on Twitter–about the Tigers’ defense or just life in general–feel free to follow me @AaronGleeman.

  1. seeinred87 - Jul 5, 2012 at 4:19 PM

    I got it, you take it!

    I love my Tigers.

  2. Ben - Jul 5, 2012 at 4:20 PM

    Gerald Laird bounced about as much as you’d expect him to running into Prince Fielder. And that’s the best thing I’ve seen all week.

  3. 18thstreet - Jul 5, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    Defensive efficiency is, as far as I’m concerned, the best defensive stat. Everything has its flaws, but that one works for me.

    • natslady - Jul 5, 2012 at 6:11 PM

      Works for the Nats, too, so can’t argue.

  4. Kyle - Jul 5, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    It was called a FOUL BALL!?

  5. ezthinking - Jul 5, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    It’s where the ball is for fair-foul, not the player. You video shows nothing if not a foul ball.

    PS, why don’t you show Cabrera’s running scoop and on-the-money throw to home to save a run? Oh, I see, that .gif wouldn’t fit your narrative.

    • Kevin Gillman - Jul 5, 2012 at 4:37 PM

      Cabrera still has 8 errors….8 errors.

      • ezthinking - Jul 5, 2012 at 4:44 PM

        and so does David Wright and Mike Moustakas, and Wright has done it in few chances. Middlebrooks has 7 in more than 100 fewer chances. Hanley 7 in fewer chances. Longoria, 6 in just 60 chances. Zimmerman 6 in fewer chances, Beltre 5 in 80 fewer chances with a lower RF.

        Shall I go on…. Shall I go on?

      • Kevin Gillman - Jul 5, 2012 at 5:04 PM

        You have to admit when the ball is hit to him, you never know if he’s going to get to the ball. And between Miggy and Peralta at SS, it’s rather easy for a hitter to hit right between them. As been the case all season long.

      • Jeremy Fox - Jul 5, 2012 at 4:50 PM


        Sure, please do go on. You were just getting to the part about how the Tigers are 10th in errors and last in defensive efficiency and UZR, right?…Oh no, you weren’t? You were going to continue focusing on totally irrelevant stats of individual players on on other teams in a futile attempt to avoid having to admit that the Tigers are a bad defensive team?

      • ezthinking - Jul 5, 2012 at 4:55 PM

        Just meeting Kevin on his analysis error for error.

      • Kevin Gillman - Jul 5, 2012 at 5:09 PM

        And now I am waiting to hear from you after my counter. Go ahead, I’m waiting.

      • ezthinking - Jul 5, 2012 at 6:06 PM

        Kevin, there is no response to your “counter” as you offered nothing other than you think the left side has bad defense. Likely does. So do other teams. Soooo…….

        I just responded when you threw out the 8 errors deal. 8 errors tells you nearly nothing. Thought I would put out some context, like how a few guys with great fielding reputations are faring.

      • Kevin Gillman - Jul 5, 2012 at 6:48 PM

        No, here is the reality. Matthew pointed out that he was right all along on how bad the Detroit Tigers defense has been, and at the center of it all is Cabrera at 3rd base. However, they have no choice, because Prince isn’t going to be a DH, although judging by how poorly he has gone after ablls this season, maybe he should. 10th in the league at defense says all you have to do is hit the ball on the ground, and the Tigers defense will flub it up. But it seems you can’t even admit that. My “counter” was to say that Jhonny and Migue;’s range is bad that they have had many balls go past them, and you say big deal. Well, it’s a big deal when you’re Doug Fister, who is a ground ball pitcher, or Rick Porcello, who counts on those ground balls, yet they find holes from them, and are base hits, and even costs them runs. You want to compare other 3rd basemen? WHO CARES….I was talking about Miguel Cabrera, not Chase Headley, or other 3rd basemen. If I was, then I would have.

      • ezthinking - Jul 5, 2012 at 6:56 PM

        Thanks Kevin, I get it now; you’re angry the 4th was on a Wednesday. I’m pissed about it too.

      • Kevin Gillman - Jul 5, 2012 at 7:11 PM

        Yeah I am pissed about it, but you will never admit that Detroit has weak defense, thank you.

    • klbader - Jul 5, 2012 at 4:43 PM

      I have always been amazed at how bad defensive players can make amazing plays, but then again, if they can hit a 98 mph fastball, they clearly have amazing hand-eye coordination. Still, making amazing plays does not make someone an amazing, or even good, defensive player.

      The facts are that the Tigers make lots of errors. That is only part of the story. They also get to fewer balls in play. So the Tigers are less likely to get to a ball in play, and when they do, they are more likely to commit an error. A few sparkling defensive plays does not change these facts. For example, Jhonny Peralta has made some nice looking plays (diving stops, barehanded plays, etc.). But Elvis Andrus might make those same plays without diving or without needing to go barehanded.

    • justiniodiddly - Jul 5, 2012 at 4:45 PM

      Next thing you know those evil narrative writers are going to point out how the Tigers have allowed a league leading 46 unearned runs. The team that is leading that division has allowed 14 unearned runs. Damn defense matters narratives!

    • Phillies Homer - Jul 5, 2012 at 4:46 PM

      What .gif are you looking at???

      Avila goes to make the catch, basket style, in fair territory, when Porcello attempts his prancing catch… Explain how the flight of the ball could be anything but fair when Porcello goes to catch it, based on Avila’s positioning?

      • dadawg77 - Jul 5, 2012 at 5:50 PM

        Avila was running up the line and was straddling it so the ball could be either fair or foul and could have overran the ball. I can’t tell for certain if his glove arm runs parallel with the line or points towards second base. We also don’t see the flight of the ball off the bat. I don’t think we can judge if that ball was fair or foul as the gifs camera doesn’t show it.

    • Jeremy Fox - Jul 5, 2012 at 4:46 PM

      10th in errors, dead last in defensive efficiency, and dead last in UZR sure does fit the narrative.

      But hey, one guy on the team once made one good play, so that means the team’s defense is awesome!

    • nategearhart - Jul 5, 2012 at 4:54 PM

      This GIF is funny. That GIF wouldn’t be funny.

    • snortwood - Jul 6, 2012 at 11:37 AM

      watch Laird. Assuming he’s a competent fielder with decent eye hand coordination, his feet are crossing over into fair territory and his glove, basket-style, is definitely in fair territory when Fielder clobbers him.

  6. bobulated - Jul 5, 2012 at 4:42 PM

    This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.

  7. darthicarus - Jul 5, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    The philosophy of “we’ll just outscore them” doesn’t seem to be working for the Tigers this year. Sigh.

    • ezthinking - Jul 5, 2012 at 5:51 PM

      4.5 back in the central, 4 back in the wildcard; 79 games left. Don’t get too worried just yet.

  8. jdd428 - Jul 5, 2012 at 4:58 PM

    As much as this provides evidence for how bad the Detroit defense has been, it’s more evidence by how bad the umpiring has been at times. Foul ball?!? Ridiculous.

    • dadawg77 - Jul 5, 2012 at 5:44 PM

      By rule the fielder position has nothing to do with the call of fair or foul. All that matters is the location of the ball when touched. That pop up was right on the line and the camera angle is horrible view to determine if the ball was in fair or foul territory.

  9. weaselpuppy - Jul 5, 2012 at 6:45 PM

    The biggest issue on D as a Tigs fan and watching most every game has been Prince Fielder at 1b. He’s short, immobile and is just plain a bad defensive player in every way. He drops throws, his footwork is meh, it’s all bad. Peralta we know-low range, accurate arm, good hands. Miggy?- A guy that big being as athletic as he is is crazy to watch. He’s very inconsistent with his throws while on the move and his range is notsomuch…but he has really great hands and a good arm. He’s been better than most thought. Raburn’s glove is a skillet. Brutal. Santiago behind him is fine but he’s proven forever he’s a 300PA a year guy ( as is Raburn, just all after June 15). Delmon Young is the worst LF I’ve ever seen and I started watching baseball in 1973. Avila loses focus and lets a lot of balls get by him, but he does make a lot of nice throws to 2nd base, as does Laird. Austin Jackson is a monster in CF, should be a GG guy and Berry seems average in LF, as did Dirks and Raburn maybe a shade better even though he gets fooled a lot on balls at him. Boesch is a weak defender in most every phase, even his good arm is short circuited by bad form.

    So yeah, they are a bad fielding team, and will be a little better next year with more reps at 3b by Miggy and replacing Delmon in LF. The long term MUST be Fielder to DH in 2014 though…he’s really the weakest link. But boy is he fun to watch hit….

    They will still win the Central but a World Series this yr, notsomuch. Starters are too inconsistent along with the bad D even as the O heats up means out in rd 2 again.

  10. Tim's Neighbor - Jul 5, 2012 at 11:51 PM

    If someone says ‘clearly’, it’s definitely never clear.

    • 18thstreet - Jul 6, 2012 at 8:54 AM

      Also, if someone says, “frankly,” that person is lying.

  11. cintiphil - Jul 6, 2012 at 9:11 AM

    WOW! They are about as bad as the redbirds. However, this is a case where no one is talking out there. What is the pitcher doing there? He should let the other guys take care of it. Even then, Fielder and Laird were not talking. Al Kaline would not approve.

    • snortwood - Jul 6, 2012 at 11:42 AM

      watch Laird. Assuming he’s a competent fielder with decent eye hand coordination, his feet are crossing over into fair territory and his glove, basket-style, is definitely in fair territory when Fielder clobbers him.

      also, in response to cintiphil, live replay in HD shows the opposite, in that all 3 players were calling for it. The problem with the play is that all three of them were doing the right thing. Fielder was aggressively charging a 1st and 2nd no out bunt by the #9 hitter, Porcello had responsibility for the 3rd base line in the way Detroit was defending it, and Laird had a play on it and was looking up and couldn’t expect 1/2 the infield would be there to make a play on a ball 20 feet from his jurisdiction.

      This is what happens when everyone is in the right and screaming on their own behalf and the appointed arbiter (the pitcher) has taken responsibility for resolving the situation – disaster in the field, and a missed call by the secondary judges watching the event.

  12. highump - Jul 6, 2012 at 11:51 AM

    You can’t even see the line in the picture as the ball hits the glove, which is the point it is judged fair/foul. Not to mention this is the worst angle possible to decide if it is “clearly” anything.

    The only thing I see “clearly” is another idiotic fan writing without a clue about officiating.

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