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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Detroit Tigers Lineup vs the Texas Rangers 8/21/15

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Detroit Tigers Lineup vs the Chicago Cubs 8/18/15

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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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Detroit Tigers Lineup vs the Kansas City Royals 8/12/15

Here’s the Detroit Tigers’ lineup as Daniel Norris takes the mound in Kansas City against the Royals. 

(RELATED: Tigers must stop being patient with the bullpen).

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3 Stats from the Detroit Tigers 6-4 Win vs the Chicago White Sox

  • Eight

The number of hits by the four-five-six hitters in the Tigers lineup. Both Yoenis Cespedes and Tyler Collins had three hits while J.D. Martinez had two hits. The trio drove in all six of Detroit’s runs.

  • Seven

The number of strikeouts by Detroit starter Alfredo Simon. Simon went eight innings, allowing five hits, four runs (one earned) and two walks.

  • One

The number of it’s allowed by Tigers closer Joakim Soria in an otherwise perfect ninth inning. It was Soria’s 16th save in 18 tries.

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3 Stats from the #Detroit #Tigers 7-5 Loss to the #Oakland #Athletics

  • Eight

The number of hits allowed by Tigers starter Shane Greene. The former Yankee also allowed six runs (four of which were earned) and two hits in 4.1 innings. He struck out two on 81 pitches (48 of which were strikes).

  • Three

The number of runs driven in by Tigers right fielder Tyler Collins. Collins hit a three-run home run in the ninth to pull the Tigers within two, but that was as close as the team got on the day.

  • One

The number of runs allowed by the Tigers bullpen. Pretty good considering the starter only lasted 4.1 innings. Tom Gorzelanny allowed the only run, while Blaine Hardy, Al Alburquerque and Joba Chamberlain all had scoreless appearances.

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Five Stats from the Detroit Tigers 4-0 Loss to the Oakland Athletics

  • Four

The number of hits by the Tigers. This simply isn’t going to cut it against most big league opposition. Detroit also drew a singular walk to add to its baserunner total.

  • Zero

The number of hits by shortstop Dixon Machado in his Major League debut. He saw a total of eight pitches and grounded into a double play.

  • One

The number of Tigers with more than one hit. Tyler Collins accounted for half of the Tigers hits with a 2-for-4 showing at the plate. He’s now hitting .267 on the season. On a day when Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez were out of the lineup, Detroit couldn’t get the rest of the team to generate any offense.

  • 2

The number of innings pitched by Tigers starter Shane Greene. The former Yankee allowed eight hits and four runs while striking out four.

  • Two

The number of strikeouts by Alex Wilson in only an innings of work. Wilson and Blaine Hardy combined to throw 2.1 innings of shutout ball once Greene departed.

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5 Stats from the Detroit Tigers’ 5-2 Win vs the Milwaukee Brewers

  • Four

The number of runs driven in by Nick Castellanos. The third baseman also had two hits, giving Shane Greene and the rest of the team all the run support they would need.

  • Two

The number of runs allowed Tigers starter Greene. He allowed only three hits in 6.1 innings, striking out six.

  • Five

The number of combined hits for J.D. Martinez and Yoenis Cespedes. With Victor Martinez on the disabled list, these two will be heavily leaned upon to drive in more runs in the middle of the order. J.D. Martinez had two hits and scored two runs while Cespedes also scored two runs on three hits and a walk. The duo did not strike out.

  • .282

James McCann’s batting average after the game. The Tigers catcher had an underwhelming day at the plate with just a walk in three plate appearances (two of them via the strikeout), but his solid displays with the bat so far this season will help make up for the temporary loss of V-Mart. The fact that Jose Iglesias, the team’s ninth hitter, is sporting a .328 batting average doesn’t hurt either.

  • One

The number of hits by Tyler Collins, who started at designated hitter. Collins also drew a walk and scored a run in his second game of the season. With J.D. Martinez and Cespedes moving up in the order to fill in for V-Mart, Collins will be counted upon to provide solid production lower in the order. If he continues to turn in displays like he did on Wednesday, he’ll provide much-needed stability.

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Detroit Tigers Links: Spring Training Cuts, Miguel Cabrera, Luke Putkonen

The Tigers have been busy trimming their roster down ahead of Opening Day. Detroit has optioned and cut players who either played a role last season or were thought to me in the mix for a big-league roster spot before Spring Training began.

  • Kyle Lobstein was sent to Triple-A due to a dearth of starting opportunities and will likely be the first name called upon should something happen to one of Detroit’s starters. Joining him in Toledo are relievers Josh Zeid and Alex Wilson, who failed to make the team.

Zeid was claimed off waivers from Houston and was part of the deal that sent Hunter Pence to Philadelphia and Jarred Cosart and John Singleton to Houston. Wilson has also been involved in a blockbuster trade. He came to Detroit in the Rick Porcello/Yoenis Cespedes swap.

  • A previous round of cuts saw the departure of pitchers Drew VerHagen and Jose Valdez. Outfielder Daniel Fields and shortstop Dixon Machado joined the two pitchers in Triple-A.
  • Steven Moya will also start the season in Triple-A.
  • Two significant bench players were optioned to Toledo this morning with outfielder Tyler Collins and last season’s backup catcher Bryan Holaday being sent down. Former O’s outfielder Xavier Avery was sent to minor league camp.

In other news,MLB.com’s Jason Beck passed along news that reliever Luke Putkonen has been released. Putkonen posted solid numbers in 2012 and 2013 with a cumulative 3.35 ERA in 45.2 innings pitched. However he hasn’t found the same success of late and was cut.

And finally, when not stealing the Phillie Phanatic’s keys, Miguel Cabrera is back in the field. The team hopes he and Victor Martinez will be ready for Opening Day.

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