Tigers call on hot-hitting Mud Hens OF to jump-start ice-cold lineup

The Tigers yet again blew a great start by Jack Flaherty. But this time they're trying to do something about it.
Apr 19, 2024; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Detroit Tigers center fielder Parker Meadows (22) hits a
Apr 19, 2024; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Detroit Tigers center fielder Parker Meadows (22) hits a / Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

One of the best-pitching teams in MLB has been consistently straddled with one of the worst-hitting lineups. After losing to the Guardians 2-1 on Monday night, finally, they've decided to do something about it.

Parker Meadows will be optioned to Triple-A Toledo before the game Tuesday with one of the Mud Hens' more consistent hitters expected to receive the call in return, Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free Press reported on Monday.

That Mud Hen: center fielder Ryan Vilade.

Meadows has consistently been a strength in the outfield for the Tigers. Since making his MLB debut last August, he's made it all the harder for opposing batters to find safe ground in the outfield. He leads Detroit in Fielding Run Value, a Statcast figure "for capturing a player’s measurable defensive performance onto a run-based scale, converting various metrics like (outs above average), blocking, framing, etc."

He's also batting .096 with .224 on-base percentage and .219 slugging. He is near the bottom among MLB batters in quite a few advanced metrics, chasing a lot of pitches and getting few hard hits on his contact. No matter how good he is in the field, there comes a point when he's a net negative to the team when he's batting that bad.

Ryan Vilade will join the Detroit Tigers

At age 25, you can't exactly call Ryan Vilade a prospect at this point though he hasn't spent much time in the major leagues: just three games and seven plate appearances for the Colorado Rockies in 2021, the same year he represented the organization in the Futures Game. He was a second-round draft pick for the Rockies in 2017.

He spent all of 2022 in the minors for the Rockies, who waived him. He then spent all of 2023 in the minor leagues for the Pirates before signing with the Tigers on a minor league deal in November.

Vilade is batting .333 for Toledo through 27 games with .398 on-base percentage and .551 slugging for .949 OPS. He's been relatively consistent across the board with eight doubles and three home runs to go along with eight stolen bases. He's tied with Akil Baddoo for the SB lead.