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.
Apr 28, 2015, 3:20 PM EDT
Mookie Betts has started 18 of 20 games in center field.
Apr 28, 2015, 2:49 PM EDT
The disruption to the Orioles’ schedule is pretty darn interesting.
Apr 28, 2015, 1:42 PM EDT
The former All-Star and former prospect is back in the bush leagues.
Apr 28, 2015, 1:21 PM EDT
Howie Kendrick Lamar.
Apr 28, 2015, 12:32 PM EDT
Awful news for one of baseball’s toughest customers.
Apr 28, 2015, 12:16 PM EDT
Crawford may be joining Yasiel Puig on the shelf.
Apr 28, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT
Turning back into a pumpkin?
Apr 28, 2015, 11:36 AM EDT
Baseball takes a back seat as unrest continues in Baltimore.
Apr 28, 2015, 11:19 AM EDT
CSNBaltimore.com’s Orioles beat reporter Rich Dubroff on his experience Monday night.
Apr 28, 2015, 10:47 AM EDT
Returning to Houston as a free agent on a three-year, $23 million contract, Lowrie is off to a very strong start.
Apr 28, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT
The fan was taken from Wrigley Field in an ambulance.
Apr 28, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT
In calling up Cole for his debut the Nationals bypassed Tanner Roark.
Apr 28, 2015, 9:31 AM EDT
They’re right not to be.
Apr 28, 2015, 8:59 AM EDT
Note to Nori Aoki: if the ball is heading to center field against the Dodgers, you want to get back to the bag more quickly.
Apr 28, 2015, 7:21 AM EDT
The Mets continue to be Amazin’.
Apr 28, 2015, 12:17 AM EDT
Jose Reyes has been trying to play through a small crack in his left rib, but he’ll now get an extended absence.
Apr 27, 2015, 11:01 PM EDT
The Mets are now 15-5 on the young season and already hold an eight-game lead over the Nationals in the National League East.
Apr 27, 2015, 10:03 PM EDT
The Nationals mapped out a plan that could have had Rendon make his season debut as soon as Thursday against the Mets, but that’s on hold for now.
Apr 27, 2015, 9:04 PM EDT
The Diamondbacks are reportedly among the potential landing spots for Saltalamacchia.
Apr 27, 2015, 8:10 PM EDT
Bailey is coming off flexor tendon surgery. Could Tommy John surgery be next?
- And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights 115
- Monday’s White Sox/Orioles game postponed due to ongoing protests and violence in Baltimore 155
- Cardinals confirm Adam Wainwright is done for season with torn Achilles 22
- Source: Josh Hamilton rejected a trade to a National League team because he wanted to go back to Texas 52
- Deal done: Josh Hamilton traded to the Texas Rangers for cash considerations 56
- Pitchers batting is dumb and the DH should be universal 356
- And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights 88
- Alex Rodriguez hits 659th career home run, now one shy of tying Willie Mays 60
- Pitchers batting is dumb and the DH should be universal (356)
- Comment of the Day: do not underestimate the seriousness of the anti-DH crowd (199)
- The Royals and White Sox had a benches-clearing fracas, five players ejected (173)
- The early leaders in MLB’s “Franchise Four” thing have been announced (166)
- Monday’s White Sox/Orioles game postponed due to ongoing protests and violence in Baltimore (155)