Over the winter, the Detroit Tigers signed Robbie Grossman, the 31-year-old switching-hitting outfielder who most recently played with the Oakland Athletics. Grossman perfectly represents the type of player that the Tigers were targeting all off-season: short-term, low-risk, veterans.
"“Robbie is a proven major league hitter and will bring consistent, competitive at-bats to our lineup,” Detroit general manager Al Avila said. “His name quickly came up when our front office began planning potential offseason additions, and all of us are looking forward to having his veteran presence both on the field and in the clubhouse.”"
With that said, during the short 2020 season, Grossman showed a vast improvement with his power and he has continuously gotten better defensively. Some even called him the A’s best hitter in 2020. The biggest question for me was if the power surge was sustainable? Let’s take a look.
Contract Status with the Detroit Tigers
Two years worth $10 million
Robbie Grossman’s Game
During his eight-year career with the Houston Astros and Oakland A’s, Grossman hit a modest .252 with 50 home runs and 37 stolen bases. However, last year Grossman saw an uptick in power and he credits his old hitting coach for helping him with his mechanics.
"“I have to give a lot of credit to (A’s hitting coach Darren Bush),” Grossman explained, “he’s given me all the information, everything I need to become the player I want to be, and shown me the position I need to be in every time to make hard contact and that’s my goal every time.“Just my body position, to use my legs and use the ground as force and I have stuck with it and continued to get better at it. It’s helping me consistently square up the ball.”"
During the abbreviated 2020 season, Grossman increased his hard-hit percentage from 30.7% to 37.5% and barrel percentage from 2.1% to 5.5% while increasing his average exit velocity from 87.7mph to 89.0mph. He also increased his ISO from .107 to .241. From a plate discipline perspective, Grossman does a very good job of drawing walks without striking out too much. Both of these attributes help make Grossman a good candidate to lead off for the Tigers in 2021. At the top of the order, he should be able to get on base and steal some bases.
Over 483 plate appearances in 2021, ATC projects Grossman will slash .249/.342/.400 with twelve home runs, 59 runs, 48 RBI with twelve stolen bases.
My Take on Robbie Grossman
Grossman should be the starting left fielder for the Tigers and I believe the top of the order is the best place for him to hit because of his plate approach and sneaky base running skills. The biggest question for me is whether or not the power is for real? And I believe it is. Just this week, Grossman hit a bomb off Hector Rodon with an exit velocity of 102.6mph combined with a launch angle of 30 degrees. Or, in other words, he barreled a home run. These are exactly the type of hits we need to see to believe his approach is sustainable for 2021.
At the end of the day, Grossman is a clear upgrade from what the Tigers had in left field last year. For Grossman, he finally has all of the playing time he could ask for so this could be the best season of his career. This will all depend on whether or not he is able to sustain his power gains.