Detroit Tigers Position Breakdown: Outfield


Mar 19, 2015; Melbourne, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers left fielder Yoenis Cespedes (52) throws against the Washington Nationals at Space Coast Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

(This is the sixth installment of my series breaking down the Detroit Tigers position by position for the 2015 season.  For the previous installments of the series, click on the respective position: Catcher, First Base, Second Base, Shortstop, Third Base)

With the departure of veteran outfielder Torii Hunter, the Detroit Tigers had to find a solution to fill his role.  They also needed to find somebody who was actually a center fielder.

The Tigers addressed both needs, acquiring slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for starting pitcher Rick Porcello, and acquiring outfielder Anthony Gose from the Toronto Blue Jays for second base prospect Devon Travis.

They addressed their needs temporarily, since Cespedes is entering his contract year this season and Gose is still an unproven young talent.

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Though Gose is still young and may be still considered unproven, he’s proven himself this Spring Training hitting .308/.366/.462 with seven RBIs and six stolen bases.  Cespedes is also had a splendid Spring Training, hitting .310/.322/.655 with five HR’s and 11 RBIs.

Cespedes will replace Hunter’s bat in the lineup well, leaning more towards the power side rather than average Hunter produced.  However, Cespedes’ fielding is questionable at times, but can be miraculous at other times.

If Cespedes can improve his average and OBP from last year (.260 and .301) and can become a more consistent fielder, he’ll be a good replacement for Hunter’s spot in the lineup for the short-term and possibly for the future.

With Cespedes becoming the everyday left fielder and earning a spot in the middle of the lineup, that forces last years surprise star J.D. Martinez from left field to right field.  It shouldn’t affect his spot in the lineup however, as in recent games Martinez stayed at the five-spot with Cespedes batting sixth.

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  • Whether Martinez can repeat his stellar season last year, is still up in the air, but his stats this Spring Training (.315/.358/.556 with five HR’s and 11 RBIs) show he’s primed for another productive season, that may include a possible All-Star appearance.

    With the addition of Cespedes however, it gives some wiggle room for Martinez.  That doesn’t mean Martinez should go back to being what he was on the Astros, but if he doesn’t have a .300, 30 HR and 100 RBI season, it’s not the end of the world.  His fielding ability isn’t too gruesome also, making him a lock to start in right field on Monday.

    The situation in center field is the most concerning in this Tigers outfield.  After signing Rajai Davis last offseason, we expected him to be the speedster the Tigers needed, while having a productive bat and glove in left field.

    Then with the emergence of Martinez and the departure of Austin Jackson via trade, it forced Davis to play center field for the rest of the year with former Tiger Ezequiel Carrera.

    Though he did play center field alright and hit against lefties with ease (.356/.382/.557), he struggled against right-handed pitchers (.247/.290/.327).

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  • That’s why Dave Dombrowski brought in Gose from the Blue Jays: to give Davis a break against right-handed pitching, without losing the speed or glove that Davis possesses.  Thus, giving the Tigers a speedy center fielder who will bat at the top of the lineup, who can be a threat on the base paths and be able to cover a ton of ground in the spacious Comerica Park.

    The “Burn Brothers” could become one of the most deadly combo on the base paths in the MLB.  Given that both stay healthy, along with improvements from Cespedes and production from Martinez, the new look Tigers outfield should be equal too if not greater, than last years outfield.

    What do you think about the Tigers outfield this season?  Is the platoon of Davis and Gose going to work?  Will Cespedes learn not to swing at everything and be a long-term component of this club?  Will Martinez be the star player he was last year?  Share your opinion in the comment section below.

    Next: Starting Pitchers