Andy Dirks has earned a chance to play every day. (Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

Andy Dirks Doesn’t Need a Platoon Partner

The Detroit Tigers have shown interest this off-season in acquiring a right-handed batter to share time with Andy Dirks in left field. Ken Rosenthal of reported this in early December, floating free agent Scott Hairston as a possibility. Adam Rubin of ESPN nixed that when he tweeted “Hairston will not be a Tiger” later the same day. Still, there’s no sign Detroit has abandoned the pursuit of a right-handed outfielder in general. Unless they dive deep into the bargain bin for one, they can stop looking; Dirks can play full-time.

For a 26-year-old eighth-round pick of the 2008 draft, Dirks has an impressive resume. In two partial major league seasons totaling 166 games, he has hit .293 with 15 home runs with solid defense. He made a name for himself in the Dominican Republic last winter with clutch playoff hits, leading his team to a championship. Most importantly, he has shown more than adequate ability to hit same-handed pitching throughout his professional career.

In an admittedly meager 114 plate appearances against left-handers at the big league level, Dirks has hit for a .288/.345/.442/.787 slash line. To compare; major league left-handed batters as a whole hit .232/.294/.353/.648 against left-handed pitching in 2012.

Those numbers don’t shatter records and, considering the small sample, they don’t mean much alone. But, Dirks’ minor league performance supports them. In 295 appearances against lefties from 2008 to 2010, 247 of those coming between Double and Triple-A, he hit .274/.319/.343/.662.

Once upon a time, the Tigers would have liked another right-handed batter regardless of his position. With five righties and a switch-hitter now projected to make their opening day lineup, two being outfielders, those days are passed.

As our Matt Snyder outlined this morning, Detroit has few options left if they feel the need to add an outfield bat before the season. Of the nine free agent options still available, three are Tiger outcasts, one is Hairston, and three more posted negative FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement this year.

While there’s no harm in inviting a few minor leaguers to spring training to challenge for a role, Andy Dirks has easily earned a shot at an everyday job. Left field is not broken; let’s not fix it.

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  • Jeff Roberts

    LF might not be broken, but our bench is…at least as far as good hitting. Santiago, Worth, Kobernus and Berry have no power. Garcia showed no power when he was called up and needs more time in AAA. Boesch has shown some power, but he’s yet again another left-handed hitter. Getting a right-handed power threat off the bench wouldn’t be a bad thing to get and having it be insurance for the OF in case of injury seems to be the way to go.

    • Kiran Hoeffner-Shah

      I would trust Berry to fill in for Dirks in left. His speed is always a nice addition. If Dirks is injured than Berry is good short term, unfortunately Berry is a lefty with little to no power. However currently Berry is the Tigers best option as the backup left/center fielder.

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  • Michael Caligiuri

    Andy’s stats are good against rhp and lhp in both the majors and the minors, I don’t think that’s up for debate. It’s been said many times by Dombrowski and JL that the organization isn’t convinced that Dirks can hold up to the rigors of everyday baseball without injury, and 2012 did nothing to alleviate that concern. A righty OF would serve the same purpose G-Money was intended to serve for Avila – keeping him rested. I STILL feel that Boesch is the most talented major league corner OF we have and I’m comfortable using him as the 4th OF because he also hits lhp well and there’s at least a chance that all of his physical gifts will click for him and he can push our other guys to start on their toes.

  • Scott Cunningham

    I hate this platooning crap. Let him start full time and stop trying to play matchup all the time. He did nothing negative last year to even warrant a platoon situation.

  • chrisHannum

    If you stop planning a bench based on matchups, Boesch makes a lot more sense as a reserve option