As Opening Day quickly approaches, April 4th, we’ve turned to our sports contributors to get their insight on just who we should keep an eye on in what we are dubbing “Tiger Watch.”
The Tigers two best hitters are well known, and they’re going to power the offense. Whether you believe in the value of protection that Fielder and Cabrera will supposedly provide one another, the two big boys can mash and they’re going to be great. But in order for the Tigers offense to score enough to be an elite team (and make up for their sure-to-be terrible team defense) they are going to need a lot of special hitters. Delmon Young has the potential to be that.
He is of course also a main reason the Tigers will be terrible defensively, and not having Delmon DH makes absolutely zero sense, but if Leyland has struck some sort of a deal with the devil that DY can play the field as long as he keeps mashing I’m ok with it. Spring training stats don’t mean very much, but Young’s .436 average is eye-popping and eyewitness accounts have him hitting the ball better than ever. While he still can’t field, it is promising he came into the spring noticeably slimmer. He looks at least a little quicker.
Skeptics of spring training studs can look to Delmon’s .131 drop in OPS last year as a good indicator of a bounce back year. And for every pundit predicting the demise of Alex Avila because of his high BABiP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) last year, the reverse should be noted for Young, whose career-low BABiP of .286 with the Tigers last year should move closer to his .328 career average, and bring his batting average up to his typical .280 or .290. And for those skeptics of statistics, how about the power of a new environment, if Delmon can keep up the .458 slugging percentage he held as a member of the Tigers at the end of last season he’ll provide just the power the Tigers need at the fifth spot.
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