When the Detroit Tigers acquired Matt Vierling from the Philadelphia Philles as part of the Gregory Soto trade last offseason, many people —myself included — were encouraged by some of his underlying metrics. His baseball savant page had a lot of red circles, which seemed like a good indicator for future success.
We are now almost through his first full season in Detroit, and we're left with more questions than answers about Vierling's future.
Let's start with what he does well. He's one of the fastest players in the league, ranking in the 93rd percentile in sprint speed on baseball savant. He doesn't swing and miss a whole lot, and his strikeout rate in under 20%. He also plays pretty good defense in the outfield, so long as he's playing in a corner.
Sadly, that's about it. Offensively, Vierling does not offer much. He rarely — and I mean RARELY — hits the ball hard. He's in the seventh percentile in barrel rate.
His power has been virtually nonexistent the past two months. His ISO on the season is down to .108, which is just dreadul for an outfielder unless he's hitting over .300 and walking a boatload, which Vierling is not.
His last home run came on June 16, when hit two in one game against the Twins. We're almost into September. This was a problem for him in Philly as well. He had just a .105 ISO in 357 plate appearances last season.
Yet, for some reason, A.J. Hinch consistently bats him in the middle of the order. I get options for power are slim outside of Tork/Greene/Carpenter, and Jake Rogers to a lesser extent, but Vierling? I would rather see Miggy bat in that spot. He might at least find a gap or a corner.
And for a guy with as much speed as Vierling has, you'd think he would steal a lot more bases. He has just five on the season — in 11 attempts. He's been caught more than he's been successful. He's going to need to work on getting better jumps this offseason. It would make him a bit more valuable as a player.
So where are we at with Matt Vierling? Well, he's not an everyday player. He can't be, unless he starts hitting for more power. He recently started playing more third base, and he's been solid over there, but again, third base is a position where you want some power from offensively.
Vierling is fine as a fourth outfielder/utility player long term. But he should not be getting everyday ABs going forward.