Nov 14, 2012, 11:21 PM EDT
It’s not hard to see why the Tigers were regular-season disappointments in 2012; the bottom half of the lineup, which was so productive the year before, stumbled badly:
OPS by lineup spot, from 2011 to 2012
No. 5: .797 to .671
No. 6: .842 to .654
No. 7: .720 to .700
No. 8: .768 to .695
No. 9: .637 to .603
Victor Martinez was supposed to hit fifth, but he missed the entire season. Delmon Young, Jhonny Peralta, Alex Avila, Brennan Boesch and a lousy assortment of second basemen all contributed to the funk.
In adding Torii Hunter on a two-year, $26 million contract on Wednesday, the Tigers took a step towards lengthening their lineup, even if the plan is to hit Hunter second initially. Martinez is expected to DH regularly and hit fifth. Andy Dirks, who will be moving from right to left, figures to hit sixth against righties.
That Hunter is an upgrade for the Tigers seems pretty obvious. For all of the praise heaped on youngster Avisail Garcia, there’s little reason to think he’s ready to be a full-time player in the majors.
I’m just not at all convinced that Hunter was the right upgrade for the Tigers. He’s worth the $13 million per year and more if he has two more seasons at his 2012 level, but the chances of that happening are very slim.
Before suddenly hitting a career-best .313 last year, Hunter had never in his entire career deviated more than 25 points away from a .275 average; his high was .299 and his low was .250. He came in at .281 in 2010 and .262 in 2011.
Going along with the fluky average was a career-low isolated slugging percentage. Hunter hit just 16 homers after finishing with at least 20 in every full season of his career. He hit 23 in both 2010 and ’11. He didn’t make up for it with extra doubles, either; he hit just 24.
Hunter also had one of the lowest walk rates of his career, with just 38 bases on balls in his 140 games.
One might say he was cutting down on his swing in an attempt to stroke more singles. But if that were the case, how would one explain his career-high strikeout rate? Hunter fanned in 23 percent of his plate appearances last season, up from 16 in 2010 and 19 in 2011.
Everything except Hunter’s batting average on balls in play suggests he was on the decline, and no hitting statistic is more prone to random variation that BABIP. If Hunter had hit his usual .300-.310 on balls in play instead of a ridiculously high .389, he would have had his worst season since 1999.
Maybe the whole thing was a fluke. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hunter hit a few more homers and strike out a bit less next season. But his average is coming down, probably way down. If he hits his usual .270, then he’s not going to be all that great of a No. 2 hitter. And if he falls to .250-.260, hardly an unlikely possibility at age 37, he’s really more of a No. 6 or No. 7 hitter.
It’s not a signing worth condemning, not when it’s only two years. Hunter still plays very good defense in right field. He gets all kinds of points for leadership. He’s just not likely to be quite the upgrade the Tigers think they’re getting.
Sep 23, 2014, 11:53 PM EDT
Orioles slugger Steve Pearce hasn’t appeared in a game since last Friday night because of soreness in his right wrist, but he was given a cortisone shot over the weekend and is beginning to feel much better.
Sep 23, 2014, 11:21 PM EDT
Things got a little testy in the bottom of the first inning Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium after Giants starter Madison Bumgarner struck Yasiel Puig in the left foot with a low-and-inside pitch …
Sep 23, 2014, 10:47 PM EDT
Pittsburgh is headed to baseball’s postseason for a second straight year after not sniffing the playoffs between 1993-2012.
Sep 23, 2014, 10:22 PM EDT
The ride might be over for the 2014 Mariners. Felix Hernandez was lit up for eight earned runs in just 4 2/3 innings and Seattle’s offense didn’t make any noise beyond the top of the third as the M’s fell 10-2 to the host Blue Jays on Tuesday evening in Toronto. It’s the fourth straight loss for Seattle.
Sep 23, 2014, 9:35 PM EDT
Michael Young spoke with Rangers general manager Jon Daniels about replacing Ron Washington, but the recently-retired 37-year-old has decided against pursuing the position so that he can focus on his family.
Sep 23, 2014, 8:49 PM EDT
heck out Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons pull off this stellar diving grab Tuesday night against the Pirates …
Sep 23, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT
Whatever playoff run the Giants have in them this season will have to be without center fielder Angel Pagan.
Sep 23, 2014, 8:15 PM EDT
Nationals center fielder Denard Span made a nice diving catch to rob Mets outfielder Matt den Dekker of a hit, but it may prove costly because he exited the game with an injury in the next half-inning.
Sep 23, 2014, 8:02 PM EDT
You can watch here as Bud Selig presents the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award to retiring shortstop Derek Jeter on Tuesday evening in the Yankee Stadium press room …
Sep 23, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT
Jurickson Profar’s nightmarish 2014 continues, as Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest reports that he will be shut down for the next 2-3 months due to renewed discomfort in his right shoulder.
Sep 23, 2014, 6:48 PM EDT
Chicago owes him $11 million in 2015 and $11 million in 2016.
Sep 23, 2014, 6:31 PM EDT
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays will bring back manager John Gibbons for the 2015 season.
Sep 23, 2014, 5:47 PM EDT
David Hale will start in Minor’s place Thursday against the Pirates.
Sep 23, 2014, 5:17 PM EDT
Lagares finishes his sophomore season hitting .283 with four homers and a .706 OPS in 115 games, which along with spectacular defense makes him one of the 10 most valuable all-around center fielders in baseball according to Wins Above Replacement.
Sep 23, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT
And he’s the Phillies’ closer again
Sep 23, 2014, 4:46 PM EDT
This season can’t end soon enough for some teams.
Sep 23, 2014, 4:25 PM EDT
Every day brings us another bit of weird Derek Jeter weirdness and excess. Why should today be any different?
Sep 23, 2014, 4:06 PM EDT
Out since last Wednesday when he was hit on the left thumb by a pitch, Jason Heyward is back in the Braves’ lineup for tonight’s game against the Pirates.
Sep 23, 2014, 3:12 PM EDT
Not that he didn’t have a point in the criticisms to begin with.
- Felix Hernandez pounded as Mariners lose fourth straight 6
- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons will return in 2015 4
- HBT Daily: Why did Frank Wren get the axe? 2
- John Schuerholz defines “The Braves Way.” And it’s a pretty big pile of crap. 57
- And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights 26
- Frank Wren fired as Braves GM, John Hart to take over on an interim basis 42
- AND DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME! Sizing up the final week of the regular season 36
- Must-Click Link: Derek Jeter opens up. Seriously, he really does. 46
- Geddy Lee’s baseball obsession makes it really hard for me to hate Rush (124)
- It certainly looks like Barry Bonds’ criminal conviction is going to be overturned (111)
- Ron Washington claims he resigned because he cheated on his wife (103)
- Giants CEO Larry Baer thinks advertisements on uniforms are coming soon (89)
- Umpire ejects jackwagon fan heckling Bryce Harper in Atlanta last night (87)