Grading the Detroit Tigers at the Break: Bench Hitters


July 11, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers left fielder Matt Tuiasosopo (18) hits a two run home run in the second inning against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Grading bench players is tricky because one has to decide whether or not to hold their lack of playing time against them. I’ve decided to simply grade each player against the roles to which they’ve been assigned (i.e. a ‘B’ bench player isn’t necessarily “better” or “more valuable” than a ‘C’ starter).


Matt Tuiasosopo (.329/.447/.624, 1.1 fWAR) – A-

First things first: I’m not a big beliver that Matt Tuiasosopo can keep hitting at a rate anywhere close to this. That being said, I’m loving that he’s doing it and he’s getting the second highest grade of any Tigers hitter (only Miguel Cabrera’s ‘A+’ is better). Credit goes to Jim Leyland for putting Tuiasosopo into spots to maximize his effectiveness.

Don Kelly (.252/.344/.414, 1.0 fWAR) – B+

It’s nearly time for everyone (including me) to eat crow regarding Don Kelly. I don’t know anyone (well, one person actually) who enjoys the idea of him being on the team, but we all have to admit that he’s performed tremendously this season. He can play five or six defensive positions at an adequate-to-above-average level, and his bat has actual been plus so far in 2013. We’re talking small sample size and all that (read: not an endorsement of his true talent level), but Kelly (109 wRC+) has basically matched the overall quality of Austin Jackson (110 wRC+) at the dish so far.

Quick, name the team leaders in isolated power this year: (1) Miguel Cabrera, (2) Matt Tuiasosopo, (3) Prince Fielder, (4) DONALD THOMAS KELLY.

Brayan Pena (.279/.308/.360, 0.3 fWAR) – C-

It seems like everyone in Detroit wants to love Brayan Pena – he’s an amusing personality and an amusing shape – but the fact is that he’s merely a solid catcher and a below average hitter. He’s been better than Alex Avila, that’s for sure, but I don’t want to boost Pena’s grade just because the other guy sucks. I like Pena, I think he’s a fine backup catcher, but don’t be fooled by his solid batting average, there’s little substance to his hitting ability.

Ramon Santiago (.160/.236/.247, -0.5 fWAR) – F

Ramon Santiago has hardly gotten to play, and when he has he hasn’t been good. He’s on the club right now because the organization doesn’t have a compelling reason to replace him, but replacement level is all we can really hope for as he finishes out the final year of his contract.