The Detroit Tigers’ current roster affords them the ability to heavily platoon their outfield rotation.
Friday’s signing of utility player Mike Aviles seems to complete the Detroit Tigers‘ 25-man roster (or at least the hitter portion). They appeared to be in need of either a right-handed hitting corner outfielder or an additional reserve infielder, and Aviles filled both while taking up only one roster spot.
We’ll have to wait and see how manager Brad Ausmus uses the roster, but it would make sense for him to use all five outfielders on the roster with regularity. Only J.D. Martinez fits the bill as a traditional everyday player.
Versus right-handed pitchers, the Tigers could look to start Tyler Collins in left, Anthony Gose in Center, and Martinez in right. Versus left-handed pitching, they would use Cameron Maybin in center and Aviles in left.
It’s not a group that is likely to set records for total offensive production, but as a group they should be just fine at the plate. That’s mostly thanks to Martinez, but because the others will only be getting starts against opposite-handed pitching, none of them will kill the team with a lack of offensive production.
The follow chart shows each player’s career split with the platoon advantage.
Both trios combine for a 102 wRC+ which is imperceptibly better than average (for any position, 100 wRC+) and exactly average for outfielders (AL average for all outfielders was 102 wRC+ in 2015). And if the Tigers’ lineup is constructed such that Martinez gets more plate appearances than any other outfielder, their actual weighted average would be higher.
The only player who appears odd is Maybin who has hit relatively poorly against lefties in his career and has actually shown a reverse split (career 93 wRC+ against righties). A more rigorous platoon split estimation would include regression toward a league average split, so our actual expectation for Maybin is that he would hit much better versus lefties.
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All of the players — except maybe Aviles — have graded out as average or above at their respective outfield positions in the past, so the group as a whole could be expected to be a roundly average (or slightly plus) outfield corps. ‘Average’ typically isn’t overwhelmingly inspiring, but the Tigers will only be playing about $16.5 million for the five players, so they’re getting good value out of the combined group.