After three weeks, Christin Stewart will finally return to the outfield for the Detroit Tigers this weekend. He has been out since April 17, dealing with a quadricep strain. With one pinch-hit on Thursday, he should be ready to go for four games with the Twins. For an otherwise lukewarm offense, the Tigers will be glad to have him back in the lineup.
The Detroit Tigers have struggled to score runs this year. In fact, only the Miami Marlins have scored fewer runs per game. This lack of runs is due, in part, to an evident lack of home run power. Here again, they rank at the bottom of the league, tied with Miami with 24 team home runs. Obviously, they will welcome any form of offensive output. Christin Stewart has already shown he can contribute that power.
Despite playing in roughly half the games as other players, Stewart has tallied three home runs, which equals the most on the team. Of course, this is not saying much, considering some players on other teams are well into the double-digits. At any rate, the return of his power will be greatly appreciated. Unfortunately, Christin Stewart is slightly limited by his power. His .222 average and .313 on-base percentage are about middle of the pack for the team.
Batting average notwithstanding, Stewart is a much-needed left-handed hitter in Ron Gardenhire’s lineup. Besides Harold Castro, who has seen a bit of outfield time in Stewart’s absence, Stewart is the only true lefty in the lineup. This lack of diversity makes it easy for opposing managers to pick apart the Tigers’ lineup.
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Interestingly enough, the Tigers have nearly identical records with and without Stewart in the lineup. There are eight other players on the diamond, and one player is not impactful enough to change the outcome of the game. Even still, Stewart has managed to swing (literally) a couple of games. He earned the win in the season opener when his home run produced the only two RBIs in the game for either team. A week later, his grand slam in the bottom of the seventh put the Tigers ahead of the Royals. That makes two early season wins that can be attributed, at least in part, to Stewart’s bat.
Defensively, however, Stewart leaves a little to be desired. In thirty games at the professional level, Stewart has committed three errors. It is a small sample size, to be sure, but still, he is a downgrade in the field. His .947 fielding percentage is the worst among active Detroit outfielders.
What will happen to the Tigers’ current setup? In the interim, Niko Goodrum and Dustin Peterson have mostly been filling in at the left field position. They will likely return to their original positions with Goodrum alternating first base and DH and Peterson platooning the outfield. JaCoby Jones and Nick Castellanos will maintain their positions at center field and right field, respectively.
Christin Stewart’s return will be a nice refreshment for the Detroit Tigers. He has many improvements to make, obviously, but he is a young player and a good sign for the future. He had one pinch-hit at-bat Thursday afternoon (a fly out) and is expected to play this weekend, although it will probably be in a careful, limited capacity.
The Tigers have a four-game set with the Minnesota Twins. Hopefully, the young outfielder provides an offensive jolt needed to pick up the bats as the weather starts to warm.