Rethinking the Detroit Tigers’ Outfield

J.D. Martinez is on fire. After a three for four night against the Indians, including his seventh home run, Martinez is hitting .317. He has knocked in 25 runs in just 34 games, including 20 in his last 20 games.

Truthfully, when the Tigers brought him up from Toledo after he had hit 10 International League homers in limited playing time, I didn’t expect much. After all, Martinez was a castoff from the Houston Astros, the worst team in the Majors.

Obviously, J.D. is on a hot streak and with as little production as the Tigers have gotten from their outfield this season, he must stay in the line up. The question is, what kind of production can he produce when he’s not hot?

In 2012, Martinez played nearly full-time for the Astros. In 395 at bats, he hit .241 with 11 home runs and 55 runs batted in. This past off-season, J.D. revamped his swing, modeling it after Miguel Cabrera. Only time will tell if the results are long-lasting or if Martinez drifts toward his production levels from his Astros days.

Either way, it’s better than what he Tigers currently have on their roster.

Austin Jackson is giving every indication of putting another lousy season together – 25 RBIs and an OBP of .315 with very little extra base power. Torii Hunter’s biggest contribution of late is not playing. Before hurting his hamstring, Hunter was sporting a OBP under .300 with nine homers and 35 RBIs. At this point, Torii isn’t an everyday player anymore and Austin Jackson may not be either.

If the Tigers are going to continue to contend, they better pray J.D. Martinez’ hot streak isn’t a fluke. Either that, or plan on making a trade. We keep hearing about Andy Dirks, but to my knowledge, he hasn’t even started a rehab assignment. A mid to late July return might be optimistic.

A productive Dirks would help. He could platoon with Raji Davis in left and spell Jackson in center, especially on days where the Tigers face a tough right hander. Dirks would also be a good fit to bat second behind Ian Kinsler, giving Detroit a bit more lineup depth.

Against a right hand starter, the Tigers; lineup might look like this:

  • Kinsler 2B
  • Dirks CF
  • Cabrera 1b
  • V. Martinez DH
  • J.D. Martinez LF
  • Hunter RF
  • Castellanos 3B
  • Avila C
  • Suarez SS

Against lefties:

  • Kinsler 2B
  • Davis LF
  • Cabrera 1B
  • V. Martinez DH
  • J.D. Martinez RF
  • Castellanos 3B
  • Suarez SS
  • Holiday C
  • Jackson CF

 

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