Twenty-five year old Detroit Tigers rookie, Tyler Collins, is by no means a candidate for rookie of the year in the American League. Collins had some very limited play in 2014 with 18 games and hit .250 with one HR and four RBI and didn’t really make a lasting impression on anyone. In fact, he probably reminded us all as another Andy Dirks. Yet another perennial Tiger up and comer that would be a flash in the pan and gone.
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But 2015 has been a different story for Tyler Collins and a different Tyler Collins. While he has hopped on and off the tour bus back and forth from Toledo several times this year, he has seized the late season opportunity that has presented himself with the departure of Yoenis Cespedes and the magical disappearing act of Rajai Davis.
Collins brings a much needed left hand stick to the Tigers lineup with some power and consistency. His early season numbers in May and June were good for a rookie when he platooned on an as needed basis. He hit .261 in May and .286 in June. Then when he was asked to contribute more regularly in August he dove to .227. His slash was .227/.239/.288. Numbers all close to the Mendoza line and nothing to keep you playing in Comerica Park and off the Toledo tour bus. Now that September is here, he has been on a roll hitting .409/.409/.682 in the last seven games with a home run.
This recent run has Tiers fans and the media excited about his future contribution to the team especially since Rajai Davis has been missing in action. “Where Are You” Davis hit .192/.208/.308 in July and .172/.210/.345.
So once again, are Tigers fans playing the “better than…” or “the best for” game. If it’s better than Rajai Davis, I vote to keep him on the island. If the question is can he play every day and contribute daily in 2016 to the Tigers in their quest to becoming a contender again? I vote for no. He is not a player that the Tigers can build their left field around. They need someone that brings more than just an average game to the lineup. Do we really want to watch a kid go on a run, Tigers management convince themselves that Collins is the future and do nothing in the off season to fill the void in left field?
No. I’ll answer the question decisively. Tyler Collins is not the everyday left fielder. He could make a great platoon outfielder that gives the core outfield a break and a left handed stick to insert as DH on occasion, but he’s not our everyday guy.
Al Avila will be looking at all parts of the lineup for the Tigers’ “reboot”. One of his must fills will be the outfield and filling the left field gap. Yoenis Cespedes might be a candidate to return. The Tigers don’t have the pocket book to get Justin Upton. The Tigers certainly don’t want Matt Joyce or Don Kelly back. The options for pure left fielders aren’t great in the free agent market. The Tigers might need to go for a center fielder or right fielder and either convert Gose to left field or move a right fielder to left field. Possibly Denard Span, Jason Heyward or even a homecoming for Austin Jackson might be a good move. How about Ben Zobrist, Alex Rios or Chris Denorfia in the Old English D? Lots of great options that are economical, strategic and contributory.
But if all Al Avila has in his bag of tricks is Tyler Collins for left field…we might as well call this experiment what it is – a rebuild.