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 11, 2014, 5:17 PM EDT
Jerry Sands was in line for expanded playing time for the Rays when he went down with a wrist injury three weeks ago and today the team announced that he’ll require season-ending surgery.
Jul 11, 2014, 5:04 PM EDT
Dirt may be turning soon at Wrigley Field
Jul 11, 2014, 4:52 PM EDT
Released earlier this week by the Astros, right-hander Jerome Williams has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Rangers.
Jul 11, 2014, 4:46 PM EDT
“He stepped in a hole in the parking lot” is a new one, as far as weird injuries go.
Jul 11, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT
Not something you see players do every day.
Jul 11, 2014, 4:16 PM EDT
Joe Kelly is back off the disabled list and ready to rejoin the Cardinals’ rotation tonight against the Brewers after missing the past two-plus months with a hamstring injury that was supposed to involve a much speedier recovery.
Jul 11, 2014, 3:45 PM EDT
Philadelphia’s usual center fielder and leadoff man, Ben Revere, is out of the starting lineup for the second straight game because of an ankle injury.
Jul 11, 2014, 3:26 PM EDT
Too bad he didn’t sign with Seattle or Colorado.
Jul 11, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
Who’s more screwed?
Jul 11, 2014, 2:14 PM EDT
They may still make another move to add catching help following news that Yadier Molina will be out 8-12 weeks with a torn thumb ligament, but in the meantime the Cardinals have claimed veteran catcher George Kottaras off waivers from the Indians.
Jul 11, 2014, 1:48 PM EDT
Needing some emergency pitching depth following the Masahiro Tanaka injury news, the Yankees have acquired veteran left-hander Jeff Francis from the A’s.
Jul 11, 2014, 1:40 PM EDT
Including one that is actually interested in Byrd.
Jul 11, 2014, 12:48 PM EDT
Joe Mauer is two weeks into what is usually at least a month-long recovery for a strained oblique muscle and there’s no timetable yet for the Twins first baseman’s return to the lineup.
Jul 11, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT
He could be a good fit in Seattle.
Jul 11, 2014, 12:16 PM EDT
Dan Johnson, perpetually bouncing back and forth from Triple-A to the majors, is now in the big leagues again with the Blue Jays.
Jul 11, 2014, 11:51 AM EDT
Dodgers prospect Alex Guerrero returned to game action yesterday, nearly two months after Triple-A teammate Miguel Olivo bit his ear off during a dugout incident. And in his first game back, Guerrero homered.
Jul 11, 2014, 11:19 AM EDT
Astros prospect Mark Appel had seemingly gotten on track after a rough, injury plagued start to his second pro season, putting together a decent stretch of games at Single-A, but the No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft got knocked around in a big way last night.
Jul 11, 2014, 10:47 AM EDT
Oh, and he even struck out a pretty good hitter in C.J. Cron!
Jul 11, 2014, 10:32 AM EDT
This is not the first violent incident outside of AT&T Park
Jul 11, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT
Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino started (or, more accurately, re-started) a minor-league rehab assignment yesterday at Single-A, going 0-for-2 with two strikeouts at the plate and playing five innings defensively in right field.
- Rangers catcher Geovany Soto arrested for marijuana possession 32
- Babe Ruth made his major league debut 100 years ago today 40
- Rockies owner: “maybe Denver doesn’t deserve a franchise . . . maybe time for it to find a new home” 68
- And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights 33
- Masahiro Tanaka diagnosed with partially-torn UCL in elbow 111
- Yadier Molina to miss 8-12 weeks with a torn thumb ligament 31
- Carlos Beltran placed on concussion disabled list after batting practice mishap 16
- Derek Jeter is the most popular MLB jersey this year 16
- Shocker: the Red Sox publicly criticize A.J. Pierzynski after cutting him (189)
- John Lackey on Nelson Cruz: “Not even going to comment … I’ve got nothing to say about him” (143)
- Masahiro Tanaka diagnosed with partially-torn UCL in elbow (111)
- The 2014 All-Star rosters have been announced (103)
- Giants broadcaster says Angel Hernandez “does not belong in the big leagues” (102)