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Detroit Tigers: Breaking Down the Center Field Platoon

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Sep 26, 2015; Miami, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves center fielder Cameron Maybin (25) laughs prior to a game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 26, 2015; Miami, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves center fielder Cameron Maybin (25) laughs prior to a game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /
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Cameron Maybin and Anthony Gose will patrol center field for the Detroit Tigers in 2016. Here’s a breakdown of the duo and what to expect.

Earlier in the offseason, the Detroit Tigers seemed set to head into the 2016 season with an outfield consisting of the newly-acquired Cameron Maybin, Anthony Gose and J.D. Martinez.

The immediate reaction was that the Tigers had two centerfielders slated to play left and center. While Maybin and Gose bring speed and defense to Detroit, neither profiles as a prolific hitter.

However, things changed when Detroit inked Justin Upton to a massive contract. The prolific slugger will take over left field for what could be the next six years. At least for next season, Maybin and Gose will make up platoon pairing in center field. Here’s an in-depth look at the duo’s numbers, and what to expect from the two.

Right-Handed Pitchers

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Maybin is a .255 career hitter against righties, with a .313 on-base percentage and a .678 OPS. Of the outfielder’s career home runs, 32 of 42 have come against right-handed pitching, as have 171 of his 209 RBI.

Despite a .255 career batting average, the former Brave improved in 2015, hitting .276 with a .323 on-base percentage and a .692 OPS. If he can replicate numbers similar to those, the Tigers will be in a good position offensively.

Gose also performed above his career numbers against opposing, right-handed pitching. In 454 plate appearances, the former top prospect produced a .265 batting average, a .330 on-base percentage and a .713 OPS. Like his new platoon partner in center, the majority of Gose’ power came against righties. The centerfielder had 32 extra-base hits and 24 RBI against right-handers.

What’s also interesting is Gose’ stolen base totals. Of the 23 bags he swiped in 2015, 21 of them came against righties.

For his career against right-handed pitchers, the former Toronto Blue Jay is a .252 hitter with a .323 on-base percentage and a .689 OPS.

Left-Handed Pitchers

Both center field options comparatively struggle against left-handed pitching. Maybin is the better off of the two, with a .241 batting average, a .298 on-base percentage and a .645 OPS. Gose’s batting average is more of an eye sore at .202.

To make matters worse, the centerfielder hit only .192 against lefties last season. His on-base percentage (.272) and OPS (.546) weren’t much better.

Even though Maybin is the superior option against righties, it may be that Gose starts against right-handed pitchers. This scenario would likely see Maybin starting against left-handed pitchers in order to prevent Gose from facing lefties.

Aug 17, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Atlanta Braves center fielder Cameron Maybin (25) hits a solo home run during the fourth inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 17, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Atlanta Braves center fielder Cameron Maybin (25) hits a solo home run during the fourth inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

Power 

In terms of pop, Cameron Maybin stands alone as Detroit’s superior option in center field.

The 28-year-old hit a combined 30 extra-base hits in 2015 on his way to posting a .370 slugging percentage. Of the 30 hits, 18 were doubles, 10 were home runs and two were triples. In the only other two seasons in which he’s been a regular, Maybin averaged 22 doubles, six triples, eight home runs and 42 RBI per season. Anthony Gose has averaged 11 doubles, four triples, two home runs and 16 RBI per season.

Advantage Maybin.

Strikeouts and Walks

Both centerfielders posted stat lines that included fewer than 50 walks and over 100 strikeouts. Gose was a bit more of a free swinger than Maybin, with 145 strikeouts compared to the former Atlanta Brave’s 102.

Batting Order

Maybin and Gose tend to hit either at the top of the lineup, or towards the bottom.

The majority of Maybin’s career at-bats have come either first, second, seventh or eighth. Those four are the only places in the order where he received over 260 at-bats.

While Maybin has hit in a variety of positions, Gose has generally been hit leadoff (370 ABs), or ninth (473 ABs). The outfielder doesn’t have more than 100 at-bats from any other place in the lineup.

Running 

Aug 19, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Detroit Tigers center fielder Anthony Gose (12) slides into third base ahead of the throw to Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant (left) for a RBI triple during the eighth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 19, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Detroit Tigers center fielder Anthony Gose (12) slides into third base ahead of the throw to Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant (left) for a RBI triple during the eighth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports /

Despite some shortcomings with the bat, this is the area where Maybin and Gose excel.

As a regular with the Padres from 2011 to 2012, Maybin stole a combined 66 bases. He racked up 23 last season with Atlanta. Gose also logged 23 stolen bases in 2015, and has averaged 14 per season since entering the league.

Defense

While defensive metrics don’t favor either outfielder, each player’s ability to cover significant space will pay dividends. Austin Jackson was an above-average defender in center in large part because he was able to cover ground and track down hard hit balls. Maybin and Gose have similar, if not better speed than Jackson. Expect solid glove work in center field for the Detroit Tigers in 2015.

Projections

While both players are still relatively young, 28 and 25 respectively, don’t expect them to stray too much from their career numbers. If they do this, the Tigers will have an elite outfield.

Detroit’s outfield will be especially productive if Maybin can replicate the success he had in 2015 with the Braves. For Gose, the Tigers are likely going to depend on him more as a threat on the base paths. It wouldn’t be a shock to see the former Jay swipe 40 bases in 2016.

Next: MCB Detroit Prospect Rankings: #20 Artie Lewicki

In Conclusion

If Maybin and Gose can meet or expectations, the Detroit Tigers could very well end up with some kind of trophy at the end of the 2016 season. Detroit’s outfield is that good.

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