The Detroit Tigers need to decide who will be their utilityman next year, and they are using the end of the season as a tryout
It is no secret that Detroit Tigers manager AJ Hinch appreciates versatility. Outside of Dustin Garneau and Miguel Cabrera (unless first base and designated hitter count), each player on the active roster can play multiple positions. This type of versatility, even with everyday players, affords the Tigers and Hinch to be creative with playing time and off days.
The issue? It also limits the necessity for utility types; bench players that can move around the field but are not consistent or proficient enough to play on an everyday basis. Rather than use a lesser quality player, why not use a regular with more offensive upside, even if the defense suffers slightly at a different spot?
As you may recall, I wrote about the Detroit Tigers’ obsession with versatility and how I thought it was hurting the rebuild. But these times are different–not just because the club is winning, but because they now have legitimate, everyday players who can actually move around. For example, Robbie Grossman can legitimately play both corners of the outfield, he’s roughly the same defender at both spots. Schoop, likewise, can legitimately play first and second base, although the metrics like him slightly better at second base (I agree with the metrics on this).
Conversely, they’ve finally admitted Candelario is best at third base and Spencer Torkelson is best at first base. They are no longer forcing players into positions where they are compromised consistently–it’s finally about doing what is best for the player, and in doing so, now helping the team.
Unfortunately, there are still plenty of holdovers and newcomers who fit this below-average, utility bill and the need for these types of players dwindles when the starters can move around. Whether in the minors or on the big league club, the Detroit Tigers appear to be holding open and public tryouts on the field to see who will fill these limited roster spots on next years’ club. Let’s examine each and their case for and against them making the team next year.