Detroit Tigers IF/OF Niko Goodrum
Hard to believe that Niko Goodrum is working through his fourth season with the Detroit Tigers as the club’s swiss army knife, but after 2.4 bWAR across 2018 and 2019, Goodrum hasn’t been the same player as a combination of regression and injuries have hindered his overall output across the last two seasons.
The Detroit Tigers have to decide, assuming roster improvements are made, whether Goodrum’s experience would be favored over some more affordable and younger routes.
The Case for the Detroit Tigers Keeping Niko Goodrum
Goodrum has experience on his side and 2021 is the first year that Goodrum has been below replacement level, according to Baseball-Reference. Some of his peripheral metrics would suggest this may be the anomaly rather than a trend downward. His Outs Above Average ranks in the 90th percentile and his sprint speed remains in the 84th percentile across baseball.
Likewise, although a switch-hitter, Goodrum’s numbers are exponentially better against left-handed batters (.260/.341/.325 vs .190/.273/.331), which may present an opportunity for him to either hit right-handed exclusively or be a platoon partner for a different left-handed bat that struggles against same-sided pitching.
The Case for the Detroit Tigers moving on from Niko Goodrum
Unlike the first couple of players, Goodrum doesn’t hold the affordability or control of Harold or Willi Castro. According to Spotrac, Goodrum has arbitration years in 2022 and 2023 before hitting the open market for 2024 and is nearing the other side of 30 years of age.
Additionally, it is fair to question if Goodrum’s strikeout numbers are too high to overcome. This is the second straight season where his strikeout rate is north of 30 percent, and if it weren’t for his solid walk rate (around 10 percent the last two years), this type of swing-and-miss would be tough to retain.