Grading the Detroit Tigers at the Break: Everyday Hitters
Jul 16, 2013; Flushing, NY, USA; American League third baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) of the Detroit Tigers scores against the National League during the fourth inning of the 2013 All Star Game at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Miguel Cabrera (.365/.458/.674, 6.0 fWAR) – A+
Miguel Cabrera is on track for his second consecutive MVP award, so naturally he’s to be given top marks for his play. He defense at third baseis bad – because of his dreadful range, not because of his glove – but he’s the games best hitter (and has been for a while now) by a significant margin. Cabrera was basically a seven-win bat pre-All Star Break, and that’s just wow.
Jhonny Peralta (.303/.361/.447, 2.7 fWAR) – B
Jhonny Peralta’s .385 BABIP probably won’t last, but his resurgance at the plate has been enjoyable to watch. His range is poor defensively and his arm is weak for the position, but he does make enough plays to retain some value in the field. His defense will never be considered good, but his bat more than makes up for his shortcomings in the field. Since 2011 – his first full year as a Tiger – Jhonny’s bat (108 wRC+) has been equal to those of Brandon Phillips and Jason Heyward.
Omar Infante (.309/.340/.447, 2.4 fWAR) – B
Let’s hope that Omar Infante is able to return from injury soon because he was having a terric first half of the season. He’s not a masher at the plate, but Omar combines great contact skills with enough power to more than get the job done at the dish at a well above average rate. He’s also been rock steady in the field, making him a very valuable commodity.
Austin Jackson (.280/.355/.403, 2.0 fWAR) – B-
Austin Jackson isn’t having quite the same offesive year as he had in 2012, but he’s maintained the reduced strikeout rate and has been a terrific feature in the leadoff spot. He missed basically a month of time in the first half – a fact that prevented him from grading higher – but he found a way to provide plenty of value nonetheless.
Torii Hunter (.315/.352/.458, 1.7 fWAR) – C+
Torii Hunter hasn’t necessarily been the plus glove in right field that many imagined him to be at the time of his signing, but he’s a clear improvement over Brennan Boesch in the field while adding another plus bat to the lineup. In fact, his OBP and SLG are surprisingly similar to those of Prince Fielder.
Andy Dirks (.243/.305/.344, 1.1 fWAR) – C
Despite his meager batting line, Andy Dirks grades out well overall thanks to exemplory fielding marks. Left field isn’t a premium defensive position, but Dirks has good range and a solid arm. He’ll likely need to pick up his hitting if he’s going to hang on to his most-days job (or at least keep the fans from calling for Nick Castellanos), but runs are runs are runs are wins, and saving runs with defense is helpful to the team too.
Prince Fielder (.267/.363/.457, 0.8 fWAR) – C-
Prince Fielder wasn’t a bad hitter in the first half (he was the second best hitter on the team), but he was a bad-for-Prince-Fielder hitter. Prince needs to mash to make up for his poor glove, and he simply didn’t do that. He’s currently on pace to set career lows in batting average, slugging, and home runs per fly ball. Prince isn’t killing the team with his production, but neither is he giving them their $23 million worth.
Alex Avila (.177/.279/.293, -0.4 fWAR) – F
Alex Avila has easily been the worst bat of the first half – and he’s receiving a failing grade for it – but his ability to play a premium defensive position may ultimately be his saving grace, as it has kept him somewhat close to replacement level.
Victor Martinez (.258/.314/.380, -0.5 fWAR) – F
Victor Marinez went on a tear in June and July to finish with a .694 OPS, but that’s not acceptable out of a full-time DH. His only job is to hit, and he has to do a better job of that. An .800-.850 rest-of-season OPS could potentially earn him a passing final grade.