MLB Season in Review: Detroit Tigers Hitters

By Jonah Keri //

Biggest Surprise: Austin Jackson

One could easily make a case for Jackson as a regression candidate,
as his sky-high .399 batting average on balls in play is unsustainable
over the long haul, and suggests a possible pullback from his .295
average this year. But Jackson’s 103 runs scored and 26 steals to go
with the high average gave fantasy owners a big lift, and at just 23
years old, he could see gains in power and speed to help offset that
batting average regression, both next year and beyond.

Biggest Bust: Johnny Damon

We knew Damon’s numbers would pull back significantly from 2009
levels, going from possibly the friendliest park in baseball for his
slashing, left-handed swing to the vast expanses of Comerica Park, and
from the Yankees’ killer lineup to the Tigers’ collection of Miguel
Cabrera and a band of no-names. But the plunge was far more dramatic
than expected: 24 homers, 82 RBI and 107 runs scored in ’09, 8 homers,
50 RBI and 81 runs scored this year. Damon isn’t much of a basestealing
threat anymore either, swiping just 11 bags in 2010. Avoid him at next
year’s draft table.

2011 Keeper Alert: Ryan Raburn

First the negatives: Raburn’s .333 batting average on balls in play
might regress next year, making him a risk for a somewhat lower batting
average. He’s got a sizable platoon split on his track record and could
be vulnerable to tough right-handed pitching if given 600 plate
appearances. And he only qualifies at OF heading into next season. On
the other hand, Raburn should play meet the typical 5- or 10-game
in-season minimums needed to qualify at second base next year, and he’s
swatted 31 homers over about 700 plate appearances in the last two
seasons with the Tigers. Stash him as a cheap keeper at OF or UT, then
slide him to 2B when he qualifies there next year and you’ll have cheap
power at a position that doesn’t have a lot of it.

2011 Regression Alert: None

Miguel Cabrera was the only Tigers hitter to put up big
numbers this season, and he’s in his prime at age 27 and improving by
the year — meaning it’s tough to find a Tigers hitter due for a big
pullback. By the same token, few Tigers performed so poorly relative to
expectations that you’d expect a big positive regression either. You
could be generous and argue that Scott Sizemore is better than
the .224/.296/.336 line he mustered this season. But the man Detroit
originally ticketed for the starting second base job in 2010 sports a
track record of mediocre power and high strikeout rates in the minor
leagues; he may well be unable to hit enough to hold down an everyday
job, let alone help you in even a deeper mixed league. 

For more on Austin Jackson and the Detroit Tigers lineup, check out Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy kits.

 

2 Comments

I agree with you overall, including on the potential for Raburn to be a worthwhile cheap keeper. But considering he played 18 games at 2B this year, wouldn’t he qualify at 2B already? If not, I’m not sure he’ll get there next year. It depends on what moves the Tigers make, but it sounds like he’s more likely to earn a full-time OF spot and be less of a super-utility guy than he has been.

Hi Brian,

The eligibility threshold for most standard leagues coming into a season is 20 games at a position. In-season it’s either 5 or 10. So yeah, Raburn should qualify during the 2011 season. It’d be nice if he played enough games at 2B next year to subsequently qualify for 2012 too.

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