The Detroit Tigers stopped hoping a long time ago that Andy Dirks will recapture his batting magic from a year ago. Right now, the Tigers will get whatever their leftfielder will give them. They’ve got no choice.
There’s talk that the Tigers will be looking for another outfielder within the next month to help them in the stretch drive.
In Sunday’s 4-1 win over the Kansas City Royals, Dirks showed that he’s able to make some huge contributions. He belted his seventh home run of the season in the fifth inning to give his team the lead for good.
Dirks ended the day with a .248 batting average after 81 games with seven homers and 24 RBIs. It’s a far cry from last season and an 88-game stint in which he batted .322 with eight home runs and 35 runs.
The Tigers are expected to see three left-handed starters from the Chicago White Sox this week, and that will force manager Jim Leyland to consider benching Dirks for most of the series, unless Leyland is confident that Dirks can hit left-handers more effectively.
While he batted well last season as a rookie, he forced the pitchers to be smarter the second time around, but he still has to study the pitchers more effectively.
Dirks is still batting well enough to get the key hits and keep making valuable contributions to this team. He needs to be a smarter hitter if he wants to boost that batting average. If it doesn’t get higher, the Tigers are likely to make a move for a new outfielder.