Detroit Tigers: Like the Bullpen, Most of the 2015 Bench is Gone
By Ben Rosener
Since the end of last season, the Detroit Tigers have made changes—lots of changes. One of the most prominent areas of change has been the bench, where a significant amount of turnover has occurred.
The Detroit Tigers have gone through some considerable change this offseason. Of course, that will happen when the team finishes 74-87, and in last place in the division.
First and foremost, general manager Al Avila reshaped the pitching staff. Most of the horrendous bullpen was jettisoned, and the starting rotation was overhauled.
The same could be said for the 2015 bench.
Detroit finished the season right around league average with 689 runs scored. It was more than playoff teams like the New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals, but it wasn’t up to the Tigers’ high standards.
Much of the team’s offensive improvement will likely come in the form of previously injured players such as Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez playing full, injury-free seasons. The addition of Justin Upton can’t hurt either.
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However, one area where the team needed to make additions was the bench. Now, bench is a loose word. Thanks to injuries, ineffectiveness and a losing record, the Tigers shuffled through a number of players—21 position players to be exact.
The Tigers didn’t carry all these batters with the team at once. However, at one time or another, these players occupied places on the Major League roster. Most of the bench has been released, waived or traded.
Davis was the most used of the reserves, with 370 plate appearances logged in 112 games. He posted a 1.6 WAR in 2015 to go along with 16 doubles, 11 triples, eight home runs, 30 RBI and 18 stolen bases. The outfielder managed a .258 batting average and .746 in his final season in Motown. Detroit let the veteran walk in free agency.
Cleveland would later sign the 35-year-old.
Even before the addition of Upton, Davis wasn’t likely to return to Detroit thanks to Cameron Maybin’s presence.
Previously one of the longest tenured Tigers, injuries took a toll on Avila’s career. The catcher went to the All-Star Game as recently as 2011, hitting .295 with 19 home runs and 82 RBI. However, his batting average has slipped in every season since. The slide culminated with the catcher managing a mere .191 batting average in 2015. James McCann’s rise to prominence didn’t exactly help.
Like with Davis, Avila left via free agency. Also like Davis, Avila signed with a division rival. Al Avila’s son inked a deal with the Chicago White Sox.
Of the names on this list, Marte was the last to leave Motown. A corner infielder by trade, the 24-year-old was flipped to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for infield prospect Kody Eaves.
In his lone season with the Tigers, Marte swatted four home runs and drove in 11 runs in 80 at-bats. During that span, he hit .213 with a .697 OPS.
The infielder found much more success with Triple-A Toledo, with a .275 batting average, .828 OPS, 25 doubles, 15 home runs and 65 RBI in only 95 games.
A career .229 hitter, Wilson surprised many with a .316 batting average in a 21-game cameo for the Tigers last season. The journeyman utility player collected five RBI, four runs scored and three doubles.
In addition, Wilson appeared in games at second base, third base, shortstop, designated hitter and pitcher. He threw one inning for Detroit, allowing two hits and one run in a blowout loss to the Yankees.
The Tigers’ brass evidently decided Wilson wasn’t part of the team’s plans, as they let him walk in free agency. The fact that he posted 15 strikeouts in 21 games probably didn’t help either.
The last three names on this list were all removed before the season ended. Perez was claimed on waivers in early June by the Brewers. In 90 games with Milwaukee, the infielder hit .270 with 18 extra-base hits, 13 runs scored, 21 RBI and four stolen bases.
Fields was also claimed by the Brewers after appearing in one game for the Tigers. The Michigan native went 1-for-3 with a double, a run scored and two strikeouts in his only game wearing the Old English “D.” The outfielder has been waived twice since Milwaukee picked him up in early September. The Los Angeles Dodgers claimed him on December, before losing him on waivers to the White Sox just a month later. Fields is a .244 career hitter in the minors.
Lastly, Krauss departed Detroit in late August after the Tigers released him. The slugging first baseman only managed one home run and four other hits in 12 games. During those 12 games with the team he also struck out 13 times. The Mets have since signed him to a minors deal.
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More to Come?
Bryan Holaday could be out the door as well. McCann and Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s combined presence could force Holaday out. It’s to the point where it isn’t outrageous to consider the catcher’s trade value.
Additionally, with Mike Aviles’ arrival and Dixon Machado’s defensive ability, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Andrew Romine dealt at some point.