Within the last week Andy Dirks has become a household name amongst Tigers fans.
His performance both at bat and in the outfield has certainly won me over. I’ve observed him make amazing catches in the field look routine. Dirks also continues to put together solid at bats. While many players are still knocking the rust off their bats Dirks appears to be in mid-season form.
So who is this Andy Dirks guy?
Last season between AA-Erie and AAA-Toledo Dirks posted a respectable .296/.352/.466 line. His 15 home runs, 30 doubles and 63 RBI suggest that he has a little bit of pop in his bat. The speedy outfielder also managed to rack up 22 stolen bases.
Meh, it’s spring and it’s early… cue the “small sample size” argument. Or perhaps you prefer the route of claiming that Dirks just had a lucky season last year. You are entitled to your opinion, I take it like I take my french fries. With a small grain of salt-or in my case perhaps to much salt. Don’t be mistaken though, last season wasn’t exactly a fluke year for Andy Dirks. In three seasons of professional ball Dirks has a solid .287/.349/.416 line. The back of his baseball card is filled with positive numbers suggesting that Mr. Dirks can in fact play baseball.
Bringing us to the proverbial question, when could Andy Dirks make it to the show?
According to Jim Leyland, Dirks is “definitely in the mix” for a backup outfield position on the Tigers opening day roster.
However, technically Dirks is currently not even on the Tigers 40 man roster, so some tinkering would be required. Adding him to the roster is not an impossible task, crazier things have happened. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though it’s pretty early, there’s no need to put the horse before the buggy.
Aside from the roster technicality, perhaps his biggest road block is the human string bean also known as Don Kelly. The versatility of Kelly defensively seems to outweigh his horrific bat. Without any other realistic options to spell Brandon Inge at third base Kelly seems to be a lock. Still, the overabundance of quality outfielders battling for a spot on the bench is pretty amazing. If all else fails and things are still this close, I suggest they either A.) draw straws or B.) have a steel cage match.
On a serious note-Regardless of the outcome, Andy Dirks has taken full advantage of his invite to spring training this season. He has impressed fans. He has impressed the hell out of me. More importantly, he has the attention of Jim Leyland. If nothing else, Dirks has earned himself a spot on the skippers short list of players to call upon. As we all know at some point due to lack of performance or injury that short list of the skippers gets brought out.
There is a lot more spring baseball to be played before the regular season is officially underway. However, from what I’ve seen in Lakeland, part of me is now pulling for this guy named Andy Dirks.