Quintin Berry is fast, let’s get that one out of the way quickly, but speed only gets a player so far in the game of baseball.
Berry’s speed doesn’t automatically make him a quality outfielder, as some often insist. He doesn’t read the ball well off the bat and doesn’t have a strong throwing arm so he’s limited to being average-at-best in the corners and well below in center. He wouldn’t kill a team defensively in left field, but he’s not going to save many runs either.
Offensively Berry’s speed brings a new dimension to the Tigers’ station-to-station offense. But I think his speed was over-credited for his early season success. Before the All-Star break, Berry started 35 games and scored 28 times. After the break, he started another 35 games but scored only 16 times. He had the same speed in both halves of the season, but he found himself on base much more frequently in the first half (.388) than in the second half (.270). Berry can use his speed to his (and the team’s) advantage once he reaches base, but once his fluky first-month BABIP calmed down, he found it very difficult to get on base in the first place.
Fun fact: Quintin Berry hit .224/.285/.312 from July through the end of the regular season and continued to play in the playoffs in a platoon role. Brennan Boesch hit .253/.312/.409 over the same timeframe and was not invited to play in October. I wouldn’t argue that Boesch was a better player over the stretch or that he should have been on the playoff roster – his defense was atrocious – but Berry being 124 OPS points worse than him over a prolonged stretch is a notable achievement (and not a positive one).
The question remains which Berry is the real one: the guy with the .805 OPS in his first 168 PA, or the guy with the .563 OPS in his next 162 PA? The answer is probably neither, but his true-talent BABIP is almost certainly closer to the .284 mark he put up in the second half than the .416 mark of the first half.
Quintin Berry could perhaps provide value to the Tigers’ major league club as a 25th man pinch runner type player, but he shouldn’t be in the mix for an everyday outfield spot or even a platoon spot. The Tigers will almost certainly sign an everyday outfielder to handle one of the outfield position, but Berry shouldn’t be handed the other spot over the likes of Andy Dirks.