It’s crazy to think that Torii Hunter actually lived up to his 5-year, $85 million deal he signed with the Los Angeles Angels. That was supposed to be Hunter’s one and only huge payday. But after the season he had with Los Angeles, Hunter will get one last payday, courtesy of the Detroit Tigers.
Hunter has inked a two-year deal with the defending American League Champions today. The initial reaction to the move is that Hunter will move to left field for the departing Delmon Young, considering the Tigers seem to be high on Avisail Garcia, who has an absolute cannon for an arm.
At age 36/37, Hunter had his best year of his career, hitting .313/.365/.451/.816 in 140 games. The switch to right field is what helped Hunter in the long run, making his diminishing range not a huge issue. Hunter had a UZR over 10, giving him his best fWAR (5.3) in his career.
Although Hunter is a definite upgrade over Young, he does come with some red flags. The obvious one is he’s 37 years old. It’s not often a player in his upper 30s has a career year and then repeats it. Secondly, Hunter’s BABIP last season was a ridiculous .389, which is .82 points higher than his career average. Having said that, the reason why he hit the ball better last season was his aggressive tendencies at the plate.
Hunter’s BB% dropped three percentage points, showing that he was more aggressive at the plate swinging at good pitches. That strategy worked well for Hunter last season, but it’s not a philosophy that a hitter should adopt for long-term success.
Red flags aside, this is a good move for Detroit. Hunter should be a 2-3 win upgrade over Delmon, who might be the worst outfielder in the history of time. A returning Victor Martinez at DH and Torii Hunter in the outfield should make Detroit even better than they were last season.
See ya in October, Detroit.