Detroit Tigers fans have seen Mikie Mahtook thrive in his first season in the Motor City. Brought in as part of an under-the-radar deal, Mahtook is the perfect example of why the Tigers should buy-low.
Detroit Tigers front office members have found a few gems in the outfield over the past few seasons.
First there was J.D. Martinez, who signed with the team after being let go by Houston.
Martinez turned in an ISO north of .200 and never saw his wRC+ dip below 135 in his time with the Tigers.
In two of his three full seasons in Detroit, the outfielder had WAR stats of 4.0 and 5.0.
It also didn’t hurt that he mashed 99 home runs for Detroit.
Mikie Mahtook hasn’t quite reached Martinez’ level in terms of impact and WAR, but he’s off to an excellent start.
Mahtook and Martinez are obviously different players, but Mahtook is faring well in his first season in Detroit.
Acquired for minor league reliever Drew Smith, the ex-Rays player is hitting .288 with a .338 on-base percentage and a .464 slugging percentage. He’s sporting a 1.6 WAR, a 112 wRC+, a .341 wOBA and a .176 ISO.
A former first-round pick, Mahtook flashed talent in the Majors with Tampa Bay, notching a .970 OPS, 19 RBI, nine home runs, five doubles and four stolen bases in 114 plate appearances.
That was in part fueled by a .338 BABIP, but the talent was there.
However, Mahtook struggled in his second season. He batted just .195 with a .523 OPS, 12 extra-base hits and 11 RBI in 196 plate appearances.
Again, this was partly due to his BABIP, which ended up at .287.
Detroit acquired Mahtook following that season, and he’s now flourishing with the Tigers.
Players like Martinez and Mahtook aren’t going to become available on a consistent basis in Major League Baseball, but the Detroit Tigers should still be taking fliers off players hitting waivers, or players who can be acquired in minor trades.