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Basestealing helping Tigers distract opposing pitchers

Basestealing helping Tigers distract opposing pitchers

DETROIT -- Part of the reason for the Tigers' aggressiveness on the bases this season was to create more consistent scoring opportunities at different spots in the lineup. Part of it, too, was to potentially distract pitchers in run-production situations.

It's hard to find data to tell definitively whether that's happening, but manager Brad Ausmus believes having Ian Kinsler and Rajai Davis on base has had an effect on how his RBI producers are pitched.

"I don't know if there are any hard numbers on it," Ausmus said. "It seems to me with Rajai and Kinsler on base, some of the pitchers' attention is being diverted from the hitter. But it's kind of a difficult thing to put a stat on.

"I'm not writing down every single pitch they throw with Rajai Davis on first. It just seems that some of the pitchers, not all of them, become more distracted with those guys on base, which theoretically should improve the odds of getting a pitch to hit."

Pitch selection stats from Fangraphs are mixed on that. For Miguel Cabrera, who has hit one or two spots behind Kinsler all season, the ratio of fastballs is nearly identical to the past three years, right around 58 percent. Separated by two- and four-seamers, Cabrera might be getting a slight uptick in four-seamers, about 40.7 percent compared to 37 percent the previous few seasons according to Pitch f/x.

Torii Hunter, who often bats directly behind Kinsler and Davis, has seen a more noticeable increase in fastballs, now comprising a career-high 64 percent of his pitches. By comparison, he's seeing fewer sliders and curveballs.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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