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Detroit Tigers: Tyler Collins’ Opportunity

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Mar 7, 2016; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers left fielder Tyler Collins (18) connects for a base hit during a spring training game against the New York Mets at Tradition Field. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 7, 2016; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers left fielder Tyler Collins (18) connects for a base hit during a spring training game against the New York Mets at Tradition Field. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /
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Detroit Tigers outfielder Justin Upton was placed on the bereavement list on Friday. The team brought Tyler Collins back into the fold, recalling the player from Triple-A. Collins has an opportunity to stick.

Detroit Tigers outfielder Tyler Collins is back with the team after a lengthy spell in Triple-A Toledo. Collins went through a 10-game sting with the Tigers earlier in the season, collecting a pair of hits in just 20 at-bats.

He only recorded a singular extra-base hit and RBI, while striking out six times. It’s a small sample size, but it is anything but encouraging.

Collins went down to Toledo in late April, and continued to struggle. In 257 at-bats for the Mud Hens, the outfielder hit a mere .214 with a .274 on-base percentage and a .597 OPS. He collected just 30 RBI, 29 runs scored, 14 extra-base hits and four stolen bases.

However, things may be turning around for Collins. The outfielder drove in 12 runs over his last eight games with Toledo before being called up to replace Upton.

With Upton away from the team and J.D. Martinez still injured, Collins will get a chance to prove he belongs. If he can play well, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him stick around even when both corner outfielders are back in the lineup.

Detroit has a number of needs at the trade deadline, including a starting pitcher or two, an extra reliever and a bench bat. If Collins can produce, it would mean general manager Al Avila would have one less need to address at the deadline.

The outfielder has long had the potential to be the kind of hitter who could hit 20 home runs and drive in 80 runs in a full season of playing time. Collins showed glimpses of that down the stretch last season when he batted .293 with a .856 OPS. He also added 13 RBI, nine walks, eight runs scored, six doubles two home runs and a triple in 23 games.

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If Collins can produce at anywhere near that, he’d be a welcome addition to the Tigers bench. Offensively, the 26-year-old would be a significant upgrade over Mike Aviles, who has just four extra-base hits and a .540 OPS in 50 games this season. Collins would also provide a better defensive alternative to Steven Moya in the outfield.

However, the fact remains that Collins needs to produce in order to stay up with the Tigers. At 26, he’s running out of time to make good on his potential. More struggles certainly aren’t going to help.

Detroit certainly has other options to turn to on the bench. The Tigers recently signed fellow outfielder Alex Presley to provide depth at Toledo, while JaCoby Jones will be forcing his way onto the Major League roster sooner rather than later.

This is all without mentioning Anthony Gose and Wynton Bernard, who could both potentially factor into the bench situation at some point in time.

Next: Three Trade Targets for the Detroit Tigers

The Detroit Tigers need another bench bat, and Tyler Collins could prove to be the solution, he just needs to produce when given the opportunity.

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