We’re only eight games into the season, so Andy Dirks’ poor .136/.310/.136 batting line means something between diddly and squat, but it does serve as a re-entry into the discussion about his ability to hold down the (pretty much) everyday left field job.
He has a platoon partner in Matt Tuiasosopo, so he isn’t the every everyday guy, but he will be getting 90%+ of the starts against right handed pitching, so he’s still looking at 100+ starts for the season. The Tigers don’t need Andy Dirks to be a potent offensive force – they have plenty of offense in other places – but they’re going to want him to be at least league-average as they pursue a World Series.
Dirks has just over 600 to his name – basically one full season’s worth – so he has some experience, even but 600 plate appearances isn’t an overly significant number in a statistical sense. Brennan Boesch had nearly 1,000 plate appearances (and an accompanying 106 OPS+) leading up to last season when he could hardly hit a lick. What I mean to be saying is: while we know Andy Dirks is probably good enough to be a major leaguer, we don’t yet know that he’s good enough to be a regular on a championship team.
The .136 early season batting average isn’t good – though the .310 OBP shows that he’s not been that bad – and, while it doesn’t carry much in itself, it does remind us that Dirks is still a relatively unknown quantity. If we’re counting on him to repeat his 2012 season we’ll likely be sorely disappointed, but neither will he be the marginal rookie we saw in 2011.
For what it’s worth, his ZiPS “rest of season” slash line puts him at .273/.320/.412 (102 wRC+). This would make him basically an MLB average hitter, but a below average hitter for the corner outfield position.
This is the part where a conclusion might be offered, but I have none at the moment. Just that Andy Dirks’ production level is far from a known quantity, and that there’s a not-insignificant chance that his batting numbers end up being either worse or significantly worse than we’re expecting.