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.
Jul 7, 2015, 11:05 PM EDT
It doesn’t appear Justin Morneau will be returning to the Rockies anytime soon.
Jul 7, 2015, 10:15 PM EDT
On Tuesday, Miguel Sano hit the first of what should be many major league home runs.
Jul 7, 2015, 9:25 PM EDT
Hunter Pence is back from his second major injury this season. Maybe this time he’ll stick.
Jul 7, 2015, 8:35 PM EDT
The Phillies’ GM was pretty blunt about who would be playing second base when Chase Utley returns. It ain’t Chase Utley.
Jul 7, 2015, 7:45 PM EDT
Albert Pujols will participate in the 2015 Home Run Derby. It will be his fourth career appearance in the Derby.
Jul 7, 2015, 6:55 PM EDT
Jenrry Mejia is back with the Mets after missing 80 games due to a positive test for Stanozolol.
Jul 7, 2015, 6:05 PM EDT
Paulo Orlando did what kids pretend to do in their backyards: he hit a walk-off grand slam.
Jul 7, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT
On the bright side: he has his velocity back.
Jul 7, 2015, 4:10 PM EDT
Two key players are ready to rejoin the Yankees after missing extended time with injuries.
Jul 7, 2015, 3:57 PM EDT
He’ll likely be evaluated for a concussion.
Jul 7, 2015, 3:20 PM EDT
Yes, those are real people.
Jul 7, 2015, 2:25 PM EDT
He went 0-3 with a 6.56 ERA in five starts.
Jul 7, 2015, 1:17 PM EDT
Can you feel the excitement?
Jul 7, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT
There are guys who check stuff these days, Dave. So better to be vague.
Jul 7, 2015, 11:44 AM EDT
Jaso has been out since Opening Day with a bruised left wrist.
Jul 7, 2015, 11:20 AM EDT
Many have sured Major League Baseball over such things in the past.
Jul 7, 2015, 10:47 AM EDT
“I’ve always been straightforward that I want to go play for a contender and I’m not going to shy away from it.”
Jul 7, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT
And even Andrelton Simmons, the best defensive player in baseball, says he wouldn’t sit as close as that without protective netting.
Jul 7, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT
Odorizzi threw 5.2 shutout innings on 73 pitches in a minor-league rehab start Monday.
Jul 7, 2015, 8:58 AM EDT
Not that I’m gonna try to tell you how to play this game.
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