Detroit Tigers 2016: Position Player Locks, Uncertainties and Likely Departures

Somewhat recently, Know Hitter looked at the pitchers that are locks, uncertainties, or likely departures ahead of next season.

Now it’s time to look at the hitters, where there are much fewer uncertainties. This doesn’t mean changes won’t come about for Detroit, but most of the offense is expected to stay put.

Locks

James McCann

McCann was extremely impressive as a rookie. The young backstop hit .264, while also committing zero errors in 114 games. He looks like he’ll be in the Motor City for the next decade. He may not have the offensive acumen of Ivan Rodriguez or Alex Avila (before injuries took their toll), but if he can continue to gradually improve upon his .264 batting average, he has a chance to be special. McCann also hit five triples, a pretty spectacular number for a catcher.

Miguel Cabrera

Come on, too easy.

Ian Kinsler

The former Texas Ranger has quickly become one of Detroit’s most indispensable players. He’s provided elite defense (2.9 and 2.5 dWAR in his two seasons in Motown) while at times carrying the team offensively. Kinsler managed to drive in 73 runs despite an early power outage that saw him hit only three home runs through June. You can make the case that with the exception of J.D. Martinez, Kinsler was the Tigers’ MVP last season.

Jose Iglesias

If a guy can do all this (see video below) and hit .296, you’ve got a keeper for the next decade.


Nick Castellanos

At only 23-years-old, Castellanos has already driven in 139 runs in the big leagues. Some prospects don’t even reach the Majors at that age. While a .255 batting average is nothing to write home about, Castellanos showed flashes of brilliance and greatly improved defensively. He also managed to increase his total number of hits, doubles, triples, home runs, RBI and walks. Kid’s got a bright future.

J.D. Martinez

Maybe we’ll call the Tigers’ MVP award race a tie and hand it to both Kinsler and Martinez. For his part, Martinez proved that 2014 was no fluke. The former Houston Astro snagged a spot on the All-Star team in addition to a .282 batting average, 38 home runs and 102 RBI. Like McCann, Iglesias and Castellanos, you can plug him into the Detroit lineup for the better part of the next decade.

Anthony Gose

Gose only hit .254 for the Tigers, but provided solid defense while stealing 23 bases. He platooned with Rajai Davis in center field last year, expect a similar platoon predicament for Gose next season. The speedy outfielder will likely serve as the team’s primary source of speed.

Victor Martinez

V-Mart struggled last year, hitting .245 in 120 games. The designated hitter’s power numbers were down as well with only 20 doubles, 11 home runs and 64 RBI in those contests. With his massive contract, Martinez isn’t going anywhere. Despite the struggles, look for the Tigers’ DH to bounce back next season.

Andrew Romine

Romine seems a solid bet to make the roster thanks to his ability to play around the infield. He also adds a bit of speed (10 stolen bases) off the bench.

Tyler Collins

Even if it’s as a bench bat, Collins has proved he belongs on the team next season. The outfielder hit .266 with a .732 OPS in 60 games. As it stands, he may be the best bench bat the Tigers employ.

Uncertainties

Dixon Machado

Even if Romine makes the team, fellow infielder Machado stands a good chance of making it as well. The middle infielder’s defense has been big-league ready for years, and he showed promise in limited cup of coffee.

Rajai Davis

Davis would certainly make sense as a bench bat/pinch runner, but another team offering more cash and playing time may come calling. Additionally, the Tigers may opt for a different alternative to Gose in center. The fact remains that Davis is still a fit for the club if the stars align. It would shock no one if Davis is once again wearing an Old English “D” in 2016.

Steven Moya

Moya has all kinds of potential thanks to his famous power. He needs to work on his plate discipline however, and may be better suited at Triple-A Toledo for a season before joining the Tigers for good in 2017. If he shows well in the minors, a mid-season call up certainly isn’t out of the question.

Bryan Holaday

Whether Holaday makes the team or not is probably entirely dependent on whether new general manager Al Avila signs another catcher to backup McCann. If no other backstops are brought in, expect Holaday to serve as McCann’s deputy in 2016.

Jefry Marte

Another young player who showed flashes of potential, Marte may find himself in Triple-A. His power would certainly help the Detroit bench, but with Romine able to handle both of the positions that Marte plays, the former Oakland Athletics farm hand could be with Toledo. Still, if Marte tears it up in Spring Training, the Tigers will have a tough decision on their hands.

Likely Departures/ Departures

Alex Avila

Avila’s father/Tigers GM Al Avila has already stated that he doesn’t see resigning Alex “as a priority.” In other words, it appears that the younger Avila has played his final game with Detroit. He’ll likely sign elsewhere in search of more playing time.

Josh Wilson

Wilson was outrighted by the Tigers and elected free agency as opposed to staying in the organization. The infielder hit /316 in a 21 game cameo for the Tigers, driving in five runs in the process.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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New Mariners General Manager Jerry Dipoto’s First Priorities

The Seattle Mariners wrapped up a disappointing season on a positive note, claiming a 3-2 win over the Oakland Athletics. The attention now shifts to the offseason, where new general manager Jerry Dipoto will be tasked with turning the team around.

Dipoto has already made it clear that he’s keeping hold of, and building around, “core” players Kyle Seager, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Felix Hernandez.

Thankfully, none of those four players will be leaving the Emerald City any time soon. If the M’s finished 76-86 with that quartet, who knows how they’d fair without the foursome? Odds are it wouldn’t be pretty.

Dipoto has his work cut out for him, but if he can creatively fill some of the team’s needs without losing much either in a trade or in salary, the M’s have a chance to contend next season.

Among the most prominent needs is at catcher. Per Baseball Reference, Seattle catchers collectively finished last season with the worst wins above average by any backstop grouping in the league. Mike Zunino and company were worth -3.9 wins below average. No other catching group was worse than -2.6.

The problem with the situation is that Zunino is only 24-years-old. The Mariners aren’t going to bail on the former third-overall pick that quickly, but he has to start improving offensively. Zunino has a career .193 batting average in 1055 plate appearances. This simply isn’t going to cut it. Adding another catcher to the roster in the same vein as the Wellington Castillo transaction.

In addition to a catcher, Seattle needs a leadoff hitter. Ketel Marte performed atop the order, hitting .283 and stealing eight bases in 57 games. However, the team may find easier to find an outfielder who hits atop the order. Mariners’ center and left fielders both were below league-average in terms of wins above average. Seattle left fielders were worth -0.2 wins below average while centerfielders were worth -1.3 wins below average. Only four teams had worse production from their centerfield groupings, so perhaps someone like Denard Span, Dexter Fowler, or even Rajai Davis, could make sense.

(RELATED: Analyzing Jerry Dipoto’s Top 14 Career Trades).

The M’s could use stand to score more runs. Only six teams scored fewer runs in the league. Another bat would certainly make sense. Mark Trumbo showed flashes of the talent he showed in Anaheim, but only managed to hit .248 against right-handed pitching. Logan Morrison was supposed to fill that role, but he hasn’t hit much either (.241 against righties, .190 against lefties). Justin Morneau could hit free agency and would be a fit. The former Minnesota Twin hit .316 with an .850 OPS in 184 games for the Rockies over the past two years. He’d be a great fit alongside Trumbo, especially considering he’s a career .297 hitter in over 4,000 (4,169) plate appearances against right handed pitching.

Last but not least, Dipoto must fix the bullpen. Generally a strength for Seattle, this year’s bullpen was often an eye soar.

Going back to the “Wins Above Average by Position” leaderboards, the M’s relievers finished fourth-worst in the league. The relievers were worth -3.4 wins below average. The group may get better simply by subtraction. Fernando Rodney has already departed while a number of ineffective relievers could, and should, be jettisoned.

A number of quality relievers (Tyler Clippard, Joakim Soria and Darren O’Day, just to name a few) could hit the free agent market, so Seattle will have its pick should the team chose to spend. Additionally, effective relief pitchers are found on the waiver wire every month, so there’s plenty of options for Dipoto to fix the bullpen.

New M’s general manager Jerry Dipoto has his work cut out for him, but he’s shown he can make shrewd trades. Seattle has a number of issues, but if Dipoto can fix them, the team has a chance.

Detroit Tigers Lineup vs the Houston Astros 8/14/15

Miguel Cabrera is back. Rejoice! Here’s the lineup as the Detroit Tigers take on the Houston Astros and starter Dallas Keuchel.

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Should the Tigers Take a Flier on Garrett Jones?

The New York Yankees recently designated first baseman/corner outfielder/pinch-hitter extraordinaire Garrett Jones for assignment. Should the Tigers take a chance on the one-time Minnesota Twin?

The book on Jones is pretty straight forward. He mashes right-handed pitching (.265 career batting average .473 career slugging percentage and .803 career OPS) and plays first base as well as both corner outfield spots. His defense isn’t anything to write home about, but his offense is what keeps him around.

Detroit could have used him when Miguel Cabrera was out injured, but with Cabrera set to return to the lineup on Friday, the team’s need isn’t as dire. Still, Jones could provide the Tigers with a feared bench bat that has been missing in Detroit for a number of years.

Jones would likely be used in a timeshare with Tyler Collins and Rajai Davis in left field, but mainly as a pinch hitter.

One thing that stood out, among others, during last season’s American League Division Series sweep at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles was the team’s lack of bench depth. After Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez brought the Tigers within a run thanks to back-to-back doubles, the team sent Bryan Holaday, Nick Castellanos and Hernan Perez to the plate. Holaday struck out, Castellanos was walked and Perez promptly grounded into a double play.

With the season on the line, the team sent Hernan Perez to the plate. Hernan Perez! Now, Perez has some potential, but he isn’t with the team any more.

We’ve seen a number of baseball teams (looking at you Kansas City) build deep benches that help them succeed in October. Adding Jones would give Tigers a somewhat deep bench. The team would have their go-to pinch-hitter in Jones, a go-to pinch-runner in Davis, as well as a super utility option in Andrew Romine.

Jefry Marte has hit well for the Tigers while filling in for Cabrera at first (.271 batting average, seven extra-base-hits and seven RBI in 19 games), but if he isn’t playing full-time, you might as well send him to Triple-A Toledo to receive some at-bats and then recall him when rosters expand in a few weeks.

There’s also the fact that Cabrera won’t be completely ready to play full-time when he returns, so Brad Ausmus will have to spell him at first base on occasion. While Jones isn’t a Gold Glove winner at first, he has played 489 games at the position in the big leagues and can be considered a first baseman by trade. The same cannot be said of the Cabrera’s injury replacements Marte (naturally a third baseman), Romine (utility infielder, better suited for the other three infield positions) and Alex Avila (a catcher).

Throw in Jones’ .306 batting average at Comerica Park (also seven extra-base hits and two stolen bases in 11 games) and you have a solid bench option for the Tigers. He’s at least worth a look.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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Take flier on following Ben on Twitter. He promises that he doesn’t always refer to himself in the third person.

Detroit Tigers News: Miguel Cabrera, Rajai Davis, Shane Greene and the Trade Deadline

Here’s the latest Detroit Tigers news from the Twitter as the team gets ready to start a road series against the Tampa Bay Rays.

In major news, Miguel Cabrera is apparently already taking batting practice and could return in a few weeks.

In other news, Rajai Davis isn’t going anywhere.

David Price and the Tigers are confident in their chances.

Also, Buck Farmer is replacing Shane Greene in the rotation. Greene will move to the bullpen.

There are also a number of scouts at the Tigers/Rays game.

To see the Tigers’ lineup for the series opener against the Rays, click here. 

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3 Stats from the Detroit Tigers 4-0 Win vs the Cleveland Indians

  • 44

David Price’s ERA after the game. The Detroit ace threw a complete-game shutout, limiting the Indians to seven hits while striking out eight. He threw an economical 93 total pitches.

  • Five

The number of hits by the top third of the Tigers batting order. Miguel Cabrera and Rajai Davis had two hits apiece while Ian Kinsler also had a base knock. The trio combined for the majority of the team’s total hits (nine) while driving in all four runs.

  • One

The number of Tigers starters after the game with a batting average below .272. Nick Castellanos’ average following the game was .227.

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Three Stats from the Detroit Tigers 3-2 Loss vs the Houston Astros

  • Seven

The total number of baserunners by the Tigers. The team had six hits and a walk. Jose Iglesias and Miguel Cabrera each reached base twice with Iglesias notching two hits while Cabrera had a hit and a walk.

  • Zero

Another clean day for the bullpen as Al Alburquerque, Tom Gorzelanny and Blaine Hardy all pitched scoreless innings. They combined to strike out seven hitters in just 3.1 innings pitched.

  • One

The number of triple plays grounded into by the Tigers, who couldn’t seem to get their offense going against the ‘Stros.

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Three Stats from the Detroit Tigers 6-2 Win vs the Houston Astros

  • Three

The number of RBI by cleanup hitter J.D. Martinez. The outfielder also added two hits and scored a run.

  • Five

The number of Tigers hitters with multiple hits in the game. Anthony Gose, Miguel Cabrera, Martinez, Rajai Davis and James McCann all had two hits apiece. Detroit totaled 12 hits on the day.

  • Zero

The number of runs allowed by the Tigers bullpen. Joba Chamberlain and Tom Gorzelanny each threw perfect innings. Each had a strikeout as well.

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10 Stats from the #Detroit #Tigers 13-1 Win vs the #Minnesota #Twins

Because I missed the last game, here are twice the stats from the Detroit Tigers blowout win over the Minnesota Twins.

  • Five

The number of runs driven in by Miguel Cabrera. Miggy went yard twice and scored three runs on three hits. He went 3-for-5.

  • Zero

The number of runs allowed by the Tigers bullpen. The ‘pen accounted for only one inning, but Al Alburquerque threw a scoreless ninth, striking out one in the process.

  • Eight

The number of innings pitched by Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez. The former Marlin was superb in a start that suggests his troubles could be behind him. Sanchez allowed five hits, a walk and a run (it was earned) to go along with nine strikeouts. He’s back.

  • Four

The number of Tigers with three or more hits. Forget multiple hits in general, Rajai Davis, Bryan Holaday, Cabrera and Ian Kinsler all had at least three base hits. Gose led the way with four.

  • One

The number of Tigers starters who didn’t score a run. That starter would be Jose Iglesias, who went 1-for-5. While he didn’t score a run, he did drive one in.

  • 20

The number of hits by the Tigers as a team, four times more than the Twins hit total.

  • 1/1

J.D. Martinez’ strikeout-to-walk ratio for the game. The slugger struck out 126 times last season compared to only 30 walks. He’s already earned 13 base-on-balls this season in only 34 games. He had 30 walks in 123 games last season. His batting average may be down, but his walk total certainly looks to be on the rise.

  • .348

Anthony Gose’s batting average on the season. Gose isn’t starting every day, but is making the most of limited playing time. The centerfielder has 16 runs scored, ten extra-base hits, and six stolen bases in only 92 at-bats.

  • 4/5

The Tigers’ strikeout-to-walk ratio on the day. By comparison, the Twins strikeout-to-walk ratio was 10/1 in favor of strikeouts.

  • .240

Nick Castellanos’ batting average after the game. Castellanos stuffed the stat sheet with two hits, two runs scored, an RBI and two walks.

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5 Stats from the Detroit #Tigers’ 2-1 Win over the Minnesota Twins

  • One

Reliever Angel Nesbitt’s win total after the game. It was the reliever’s first big-league win. Ironically, he picked up the loss in the previous game.

  • Three

The number of players subbed into the game after Nick Castellanos was removed. Andrew Romine came in as a defensive replacement before making way for pinch-hitter Rajai Davis. Hernan Perez later entered to play third base.

  • Zero

The number of runs allowed by the Tigers bullpen after another strong showing from Alfredo Simon. Joba Chamberlain, Joakim Soria and Nesbitt combined to throw 2.1 scoreless innings with four strikeouts. They collectively allowed only one hit.

  • Six

The number of hits allowed by Alfredo Simon in 7.2 innings pitched. Simon allowed a run and a walk while striking out six.

  • Five

The number of Tigers regulars with a batting average above .280 following the game. Yoenis Cespedes is the low man on the totem pole with a .281 average, but Ian Kinsler, Anthony Gose, Miguel Cabrera and Jose Iglesias are all hitting over .300. Iglesias leads the way with a stellar .349 mark.

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