Thursday, December 20, 2012

Torii Hunter to the Tigers

What can you say about outfielder Torii Hunter?  A savvy veteran that puts up above average offense numbers across the board, plays great defense still at age 37 and by all accounts is a great clubhouse knew that some team would overpay for him, but you really didn't mind if it was your team.

Hunter was so interested in the Tigers, that he actually had his agents set up the meeting with Tiger's GM Dave Dombrowski.  By the end of the day, Torii Hunter was a Tiger.  To the casual fan, this was a match made in heaven, but what does the contract details and Torii Hunter's advanced statistics say about how he will fit in with Detroit as they pursue their first World Series championship since 1984?  Let's take a look.  

Contract: 2 years, $26 million.  
  • 2013 - $12 million
  • 2014 - $14 million

Who is this guy? 

A beacon of consistency throughout his career with the Minnesota Twins and the Los Angeles Angels, last season (the career .277 hitter) Hunter batted a career-high .313.  He also slugged 16 home runs and knocked in 92 RBIs in a home ball park that laughs at power hitters from either side of the plate.  While it was the first season he has finished under 20 home runs, the isolated power numbers were still there.  

While you can expect power to decline with age, there's no signs that a big drop off is coming.  He's as consistent as they come.

He will be a solid fit because he...

Does a little bit of everything.  While he'll never steal 111 bases like he did with the Twins, he'll be a perfect fit in the number two spot in Jim Leyland's batting order where he hit .343 in the 2nd spot last year.  His walk rate was better than literally anyone else the Tigers tried at the 2nd spot and he will be hitting ahead of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder so expect him to score around a conservative estimate of about a zillion runs.  Defensively, while he may never be the outfielder that won nine straight Gold Gloves from 2000-2009, his advanced defensive stats ( UZR, UZR/150, DRS, and range factor) still rank him as one of the top in the game.  And every Tiger fan will tell you he would be a massive, massive, massive (and I can't stress this enough) MASSIVE upgrade over either Delmon Young or Brennan Boesch in the field.  

But he could hurt the team because he might...

Get hurt?  Other than that I've got nothing.  He'll be an improvement in almost every way imaginable compared to whoever the Tigers were fielding in one of the few weak spots in an otherwise solid lineup.  With all Detroit contracts lately, the money is pretty steep for a 37-year-old outfielder, but not one that is too length or crippling in the long term.  

So expect him to....

With Hunter in the 2nd spot and manning right field, the Tigers can move Andy Dirks over to left (where he's more comfortable anyway) and the outfield defense will instantly improve.  He's a great clubhouse guy in a Detroit locker that needed a leader (in my opinion).  This is a rare signing that from a distance, looks to be a fit in every way possible and it speaks volumes that Hunter initiated talks with Detroit's front office.  There's a slight chance (with any aging player) that this season is the one that the guy drops off, but I don't see that happening.  

While I seriously doubt Hunter will replicate last season's numbers, if he can come even close he will be a massive upgrade over the Boesch/Young/Raburn/Triple AAA scab disaster that was the Tiger's outfield outside of Austin Jackson.  If you're a Tiger's fan, you should be very, very happy with this signing.  One of the nicest and passionate players is on our team.  Let's rock this.