MLB.com beat writer Jason Beck had some news and notes from Dave Dombrowksi in a blog post on Sunday evening. A large chunk of the post is about Bruce Rondon and the closer situation, but he gets into the outfield and the search for a right handed hitter toward the bottom.
When talking about the need for a right-handed hitter off the bench that can play the outfield, especially if Brennan Boesch makes the club, Dombrowski mentioned Danny Worth and Jeff Kobernus. “Jim [Leyland] usually will want a guy that’s a right-handed hitter like that,” Dombrowski said. “And who knows, the guy might not be in camp, but you have guys. Worth has played some outfield. Kobernus can play some outfield. Those are a couple guys that would be candidates to do that.”
I think this is the first time we’ve heard Danny Worth’s name thrown into the mix. The thought with Kobernus has always been that he’d get a shot to be more than just a backup second baseman (and that he’d get a shot in the outfield), but Worth hasn’t typically been discussed in this role.
It’s sort of a silly notion on the face of it. Worth isn’t a great hitter by any stretch and you really want someone that’s plus with the bat in the corner outfield. It seems as if his only qualification is simply hitting right handed. That is sort of true, but he’s not so terrible of a platoon hitter that he couldn’t do a reasonable job.
Defense might be an issue for a guy that’s used to playing the infield, but he has reasonable speed and a decent arm and could probably turn into an average or better defender if given enough reps. There’s really no reason to say that he couldn’t be (at least) average defensively at a position so often filled by an immobile slugger.
That brings us back to hitting and the big question about whether or not Worth would be able to hit enough to hold down the job. Here’s how his career numbers (versus lefties) stack up against his competition for the job:
|Andy Dirks|| |
|Brennan Boesch|| |
|Danny Worth|| |
|Quintin Berry|| |
|Jeff Kobernus|| |
We are running into significant sample size issues here with Worth and Dirks – 120 plate appearances isn’t much at all – but if those sort of numbers are at all representative then there isn’t all that much to choose between the two players. I mean, it is a sizeable gap between the two players but, if Detroit is dead set on Dirks’ body not being able to handle the rigors of a 162 schedule, it’s not that big of a downgrade. And even when compared to Brennan Boesch, there’s a decent chance that Worth turns out to be a much more capable defender which could make up for the gap in hitting.
I would never consider Danny Worth to be a great option (or even a particularly good option) in the outfield, but given the options he might not be all that terrible. It’s scary to pin hopes on the phrases “Danny Worth” and “hitting enough to hold down the job” but there would be little to no reason for him to ever face a right handed pitcher (and he really can’t hit righties at all) as part of the role so he’d at least be given the opportunity to provide some sort of positive offensive value.
Using Worth in this sort of Don Kelly-esque super utility role would give the bench more flexibility, but probably not enough flexibility to also keep both a bat-only guy like Brennan Boesch and a speed-only guy like Quintin Berry on the roster. Even with Worth playing some outfield, the final roster spots still look like they’ll be decided by picking one of Berry and Boesch and two of Worth, Kobernus, and Ramon Santiago.