Grading the Tigers hitters for 2012

Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera get good marks for their 2012 season.

The champagne has been dried from the visitor’s clubhouse at Comerica Park, the equipment has been packed and stored away for the winter, and the large jumbotron in left field has gone dark. The World Series is over (almost before it got started it seemed), and members of the Detroit Tigers have scattered to the four corners of the United States and beyond the borders.

What now?

As baseball Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby once said when asked what he did in the winter: “I look out my window and wait for spring.”

No need to be that passive, Tigers fans. It’s time for us to look back at the 2012 season, a successful one for our team. We’ll give a grade to every key member of the team. When we’re finished, leave your reactions in the comments section.

Austin Jackson  A-
Jackson took a major step forward in his progress as a big leaguer in 2012, he rebounded from a sophomore slump, he continued to excel in center field with the glove, and he cut down on his strikeouts quite a bit. If there’s one thing we’d like him to work on next spring it’s base stealing. Jackson has the quickness to swipe 30+ bases and he gets on base enough, but he is not an instinctual base stealer. He’s often leaning back to first when the pitcher is delivering the ball, even on a mediocre move. Overall though, AJax is a rising star who should have a Gold Glove and All-Star selection in his future.

Quintin Berry C+
When Jackson went down with an injury early in the season, the unknown Berry was plucked out of the minor league system and inserted as a fill-in. He sparked the team for a brief stretch, and his one defining skill (speed) is something few others have on this team, so he earned a spot on the roster. Who would have thought the 27-year old lifelong minor leaguer would be sdtarting in the World Series? He can fill in adequately in left or right field, but Berry is not a very good defensive outfielder. He fields the ball using improper form, often takes the wrong route, and his arm is below average. He can swipe bases and he has a pretty good knowledge of the strike zone, so if he can post an OBP of about .350 he’s a valuable player – from the bench.

Andy Dirks A
After playing a second straight successful season in winter ball in the Dominican, Dirks just kept right on hitting after coming north to Detroit. Dirks has proven that he can hit both right-handers and lefties. He lacks power that you usually want from a corner outfielder however, and h is prone to slumps, such as the one he experienced in the post-season. After hitting over .320 his value may never be higher, and it might be in Detroit’s interest to shop him around to a team where Dirks can play every day. If he comes back to the Tigers he’s a good part-time or 4th outfielder, or a nice left-handed bat off the bench.

Brennan Boesch F
After showing promise in 2011, Boesch imploded this past season. He couldn’t hit any kind of pitching and eventually he was benched and left off the post-season roster. Some of that apparently had to do with a bad attitude. Boesch probably won’t be back in 2013, so he’ll have to latch on with a new team where a change of scenery may help.

Ryan Raburn F
The only thing different between Raburn and Boesch is that Raburn has at least always been coachable and a good teammate. Still, his offensive production was abysmal in 2012, and the experiment to have him be a second baseman was not only a failure, it was a silly idea. Raburn can (possibly) hit for power against left-handed pitching. But if he’s able to do that again, it will be with another team. It should be noted that it was the complete failures of Boesch and Raburn that contributed most to the Tigers offensive woes in 2012.

Delmon Young B-
It’s cool in some circles to criticize Young, but the man did his job for the most part in 2012. After early season struggles, DY settled in and produced behind Cabrera and Fielder. Most importantly, in the post-season he was the one hot consistent bat the Tigers had (again – he did the same in 2011). Critics groaned every time DY swung at a first pitch, but did you know he batted .362 swinging at the initial offering, with six home runs? Sure, he’s a pretty bad outfielder, but the Tigers knew that when they acquired him – he was coveted for his bat. Few players in baseball hit the ball as hard as Young does on a consistent basis. He’ll sign a fat contract somewhere to DH for an AL team.

Don Kelly C+
What can you say about Kelly? He’s not a very talented big league ballplayer, but he’s a professional, a good guy, and one of Jim Leyland’s favorite toys. He didn’t hit at all in 2012, but he was capable of playing any of six positions if needed, and that has some value. We give him a grade this high because of his epic sacrifice fly that won Game Two of the ALDS. Without that fly ball, the Tigers may have never gotten to the Fall Classic.

Danny Worth C-
At this point in his career, at a still relatively young age, Worth is a utility player and will probably be nothing more. He can make all of the routine big league plays, but he’s not a very good hitter and he’s never going to win a starting job.

Ramon Santiago C
A veteran infielder, Santiago knows his role and he’s pretty good at it. In 2012 he had a down year for him with the stick, but otherwise he was his usual solid self. As a switch-hitter who can bunt well and play either of the middle infield spots, he should be back with Detroit.

Gerald Laird A-
There are few backup catchers in baseball who are as solid and skilled as Laird. He hit well for Detroit in his second stint with the team, and even delivered some clutch hits here and there. For a stretch in the middle of the season he was a more welcome sight behind the dish than Alex Avila who struggled with the bat and glove. Laird needs to work at throwing out a higher percentage of base stealers, but that’s his only defensive weakness.

Avisail Garcia B+
The young rookie who looks like Miguel Cabrera afforded himself very well in his first taste of the big leagues. He had just 15 hits and three RBI in a short September trial with the team, but he looked so poised and had such obvious raw potential that Detroit put him on their post-season roster. In the ALCS he had three RBI against the Yankees in limited playing time. Overall, “Mini-Miggy” had four RBI in the playoffs and he swiped a base too. He has a bright future in the outfield with the Tigers.

Alex Avila C+
At first glance, it seems that Avila had a bad year, but that’s only when measured against his phenomenal 2011 season. It’s not likely that Avila will slug for that high an average again, and even if he doesn’t hit .295, he’s a valuable offensive talent because he walks quite a bit, enough for a .352 OBP in ’12. His body is way too banged up to catch more than 120 games per season, a figure he did not reach this year. Defensively, Avila is not quick enough to get to errant pitches, which is why he was among league leaders in passed balls. He has a strong arm and has thrown out more than 30% of would-be base stealers in his career.

Omar Infante C+
After coming over from the Marlins at the trade deadline, Infante solidified the chaotic second base situation for the Tigers. He hit about as well as could have been expected and his range was as good as advertised, but Omar had problems with routine defensive plays. He made a whopping 10 errors in 60 games after coming to the Tigers, most of them on bobbles or errant throws. His concentration seems to drift at a times. We give him a C+ because in the post-season he got his swing going and was one of the more consistent performers in the lineup.

Jhonny Peralta D+
Before you get too excited about Jhonny’s resurgent play in the post-season, remember that for five months he was a sloth in the field and hit for little power after having a good offensive season in 2011. Yes, Jhonny only made seven errors in 2012, but he also rarely gets anything hit more than 2-3 steps to either side of him. He is good at charging the ball (as he showed in the playoffs), but he doesn’t hit well enough anymore to make up for his mediocre defense.

Miguel Cabrera A+
The man won the triple crown – the first time that’s been done in 35 years – what else do you want? Was his defense shaky? Yes at times, but overall he was solid at third. His range to his left is not good, but he can get the ball down the line and he has a very strong arm. Teams threatened to bunt on him to make him get that big body moving, but they never really did much damage with that strategy. With the bat he’s a master, the best pure hitter in the game, period.

Prince Fielder B+
He had a very good season, especially considering the fact that he was in a new league with new teammates and playing in a new ballpark – one that isn’t as conducive to his longball swing. No, Prince won’t hit 45 homers as a Tiger (the ballpark is just too big), but he has the right idea – beat the shift by driving the ball into the wide gaps. He got on base 41.2% of the time – easily the best figure on the team. He plays every day and his power numbers (doubles especially) will go up. We mark him below an A because his defense still needs some polishing.

Next: Grading the Tigers pitchers

16 replies on “Grading the Tigers hitters for 2012

  • Lenny 54

    Are you also going to rate the coaches? Curious, as I feel the Tigers deserve a better batting coach……and I’ve felt this way for a couple of years now.

    Reply
  • Dan Holmes

    Interesting idea, Lenny. I’m aware that many people are critical of Lloyd McClendon. Toby Harrah will probably be the hitting coach in 2013, the word is McClendon will serve as bench coach.

    My own opinion is that at the major league level, coaches don’t do much to help or harm. MLB hitters are MLB hitters or they aren’t, and when they get into slumps, they look at tape and work on fundamentals. How much a coach really helps in that situation is debatable. Personally, I think they help very little. And the difference between a good hitting coach and a bad one? None, or very little IMO.

    Reply
  • RON STECKO

    PLAYERS STAY PLAYERS GONE
    JACKSON BERRY
    DIRKS BOESCH
    KELLY RABURN
    SANTIAGO WORTH
    LAIRD AVILA
    GARCIA INFANTE
    CABRERA/FIELDER PERALTA

    Reply
  • Cliff Parker

    I feel that the grade for Avisal Garcia was overrated and the grade for Quintin Berry was underrated, because Quintin Berry had hit two homeruns this season with the Tigers; one against the Pirates and one against the White Sox, and Q also had some of the most tremendous base steals on the field this season for the Tigers. Also, Garcia didn’t hit any homeruns at all out of the park; as a matter of fact, Quintin’s batting average was way better than Garcia’s batting average. Just Avisail looks like the great triple crown winner Miguel Cabrera, he doesn’t hit like Miguel Cabrera! The grades for both batters should have been Quintin Berry, B, and Avisail Garcia, C+. Also, the grade for Jhonny Peralta was outrageous, because his defense and his hitting for the Tigers this year was tremendous; his grade should have been B+. Also, Omar Infante’s grade should have been higher like a B+, because Omar had some clutch hits like Delmon Young, who the Tigers need to resign, that backed up both Miguel and Prince on the field. Most important, the thing that messed the Tigers up in the World Series was, unfortunately, the pitching; don’t get me wrong, the line up of Justin Verlander, Max, and Fister are great. The thing is that they need some more ace pitching in the Tigers line up like Greinke and since he is available for free agency the Tigers should go after him and add him to the line up. A good example of this scenario is the 1995 pitching line up for Atlanta, they had the pitching great of Glavine, Maddox, and Smoltz, and this pitching line up beat heavily favorite Cleveland, that had a great hitting line up, in the ’95 World Series. The Tigers should keep the majority of their hitting line up and go after more pitching, like Greinke, that way they can win the World Series in 2013 and 2014.

    Reply
  • Dan Holmes

    Cliff,

    Respectfully disagree about Quintin vs. Garcia. BTW, Garcia hit .319 and Berry hit .258. But more important (since BA is not that important), Garcia’s on-base percentage was .373 while Berry’s was .330 … Garcia is a much better player than QB, it’s not even close. The difference was Berry got more playing time and can do ONE THING well. Players who do one thing well are usually overrated. Berry is a good example of that. If he’s even on the Tigers in 2013 it will be as a pinch-runner and 5th outfielder.

    Not sure why you think the Tigers need to improve their pitching. They ranked 4th in ERA, 1st in K’s, and walked teh second fewest batters in the league. Their pitching was their strength in 2013. It can always be improved, but their pitching was great.

    The offense ranked 6th, and I think we can all agree that Detroit was expected to score a lot more runs. They need to get a deeper lineup. They had essentially three above average offensive lineup spots in 2012 – 1B, 3B, and CF. Every other position they were BELOW league average, in some cases WAY below (2B, RF, LF).

    They will not sign Young because Victor Martinez is coming back. There’s no way they will sign Grienke, they just don’t need a starting pitcher that will cost that much, especially another RHP. I think they will sign 1-2 offensive players, probably a corner outfielder or two.

    Thanks for reading – debate is what this is all about and you’re a great Tigers fan.

    Reply
  • Gary Steinke

    There’s only 1 grade I disagree with you, and that would be Peralta. You gave other players higher grades then what they really deserved because of what they did in the playoffs, but didn’t do that for Jhonny. Now why I’m really commenting, Gerald Laird. I was kind of disappointed when the Tigers brought him back to the team, but am MORE disappointed that the team has decided to let him go. I feel the guy had a great year and is worthy of at least another year with the team. The Tigers traded away their best catching prospect to get Sanchez and Infante. Should Avila get hurt (God forbid) next season this team is going to be in trouble at catcher, unless something happens this off season. Two more things, someone please let Cliff know that BA IS IMPORTANT, and the next time the Tigers are in the WS watch the games. If you think it was the Tigers pitching that lost them the WS then you didn’t watch any of the games (maybe you did watch game 1) or you just don’t know anything about baseball.

    Reply
  • Gary Steinke

    Sorry to comment again, but I just can’t get over someone saying it was the Tigers pitching that lost the World Series for them. Sorry Cliff but maybe you should start watching a sport you understand, because you done have a clue about baseball. Let’s look at the scores of all for games (for confused people like Cliff, the last number after each game is the Tigers runs scored and the first number are the runs the Giants scored. You following me Cliff?). Game 1, 8-5, being as MLB average ERA was 4.01, I’d say the pitching was poor for that game, but the MLB average run scored per game was 4.3 runs, the Tigers hitters also didn’t do their part in that game. Game 2, 2-0, bad pitching? only someone who knows nothing about baseball would blame that loss on the pitching, giving up 2 runs is 2 runs below the MLB average. 0 runs scored, guess what Cliff, I never saw a team win a game by scoring 0 runs. Game 3, 2-0 (see game 2 comments). Game 4, 4-3, the pitching was at the MLB average. 3 run scored, 1.3 BELOW the MLB average. Out of the 4 games played in the WS the pitchers stayed below the MLB average in 3 of those games (that’s a good thing Cliff) and the hitter didn’t score above the MLB average in 1 game, NOT 1 GAME (that’s a bad thing Cliff). To help you understand this game of baseball here’s a couple of things to know, when it comes to the run pitchers give up 9ERA) you want a low number. When it comes to the hitters scoring runs (runs scored), you want a high number. Do you understand the game a little better Cliff? I think Curling season is starting, maybe that’s the game for you Cliff.

    Reply
  • Gary Steinke

    Sorry for the mistakes above. I’ve got to start reading things over before I send them… you DON’T have a clue, not done have a clue… scores of all FOUR games, not for games… runs pitchers give up (ERA), not give up 9EAR). Sorry Mr Holmes for taking up so much space.

    Reply
  • Dan Holmes

    Thanks, Gary, for being such a loyal reader. I think Cliff has a right to his opinion, so no need to insult.

    Good points on the World Series – pitching was not the problem. Tigers scored three runs total in the final 27 innings of the series. That won’t cut it.

    Reply
  • Cliff Parker

    To Gary Steinke, I do have a clue to the sport of baseball since I watched ALL of the Tigers games this year, because by the time the Tigers got to the World Series, everyone that commented on the issue on the Fox Network of the Tigers is the depth of their bullpen, because the Tigers do not have the depth of a championship bullpen. Their top pitchers were wornout like Verlander that gave up all of those runs in game one of the World Series if you were paying attention. Also, true it pays to have a good batting lineup but YOU NEED PITCHING to win championships. The Tigers need some more pitching in their lineup to go with JV, Max, and Fister, who all 3 are great pitcher, to have their strength saved for the playoffs and to have Coke be the new closer, because Valverde gave up too many critical games this season that he should have closed and this goes for Smyly as well as was shown in the World Series. One more thing to my friend Dan, who writes some of the best articles on these blogs, I still would put Q over Avisail, because in the long run Q, if given a chance, will show you that he has the all around talents to be a MLB Player for the Tigers. Also, to Gary, no disrespect to the sport of Curling, but I don’t play a lame game like that so I will leave that to you buddy.

    Reply
  • Gary Steinke

    Thanks Cliff, maybe if we both understood Curling we might like the game or sport or whatever it is. No hockey this year (really starting to look that way) so I was just going for something else played on ice. Sorry for any hard feelings I may have caused, but I’ll disagree and debate anyone who says the Tigers lost the World Series because of their pitching. Dan as long as you keep writing the way you do I’ll stay a loyal reader.

    Reply
  • Cliff Parker

    No problem Gary, but I’ll say this, all of us as dedicated Tigers fans will see a World Series Championship at Comerica Park by 2013 or 2014, because all of us will agree that the Detroit Tigers have improved and are improving from starting from 2011-result AL Central Champs, 2012-AL Champs. Thus, the third time is the charm as they say, and this will be great not only for the city of Detroit, but the state of Michigan as well; this will help bring back memories of the days at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull. By the way, if anyone gets a chance Dan or any Tigers fan, another great story for the blog would be to do a story on the voluntary crew that helps keeps the field preserved at Michigan and Trumbull. I did not know that the field was at the original specs from the year of 1912 and they help keep the grass cut, help keep the dirt nice and fresh, and protect the field from unnecessary weeds from growing. I believe they call themselves the Navin Field Voluntary Grounds Crew, and I saw their story during the World Series on yahoo.com. The only problem is that yahoo.com only had the story on their site for about 5-7 minutes or so and not to knock yahoo.com, but I’ll feel that if Dan or a Detroit commentator from the Detroit Athletic Bloggers can catch up with each of the individuals that helps takes care of the old field at Michigan and Trumbull and share their story for their passion to help preserve the field at Michigan and Trumbull, I feel that the story can be told in depth. Their goal is to not have the city build on the site for anything commercial, which is justified, because 8 championships happened on that site not only for the Tigers(1935, 1945, 1968, and 1984), but for Lions as well (in 1935, 1952, 1953, 1957). All and all, Dan keep up the great work on the blogs. GO TIGERS AND GO LIONS!!

    Reply
  • Gary Steinke

    There you go Mr. Cliff, we do agree on one thing (I’m sure we agree on a lot more then one), I also believe we will see a World Series Championship in the next couple of years. If the Tigers can stay healthy we might even see back to back WS victories. Wouldn’t that be great?

    Reply
  • Cliff Parker

    Sorry Dan, I don’t use facebook, but I do like your stories on the Detroit Athletic Blog much better; they are well presented and done well. That is why I didn’t know about the story of the Navin Field Crew being done by you already on your facebook account. Thanks, and yes it would be great if the Tigers won back to back in 2013 and 2014; thanks Gary!

    Reply

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