The Detroit Tigers outfield has been a unit that has struggled to produce, but that is set to change in 2014.
Torii Hunter will be back in right field after being the lone bright spot in the Tiger’s outfield last season. In his first season with the Tigers, Hunter hit .304 with 17 home runs and 84 RBIs. Hunter also plays good defense in the outfield, having only committed three errors last year and finishing with a .987 fielding percentage. His impressive season didn’t go unnoticed as he was an AL All-Star and won a Silver Slugger award.
Austin Jackson is back in center field, but he struggled to produce in the leadoff spot last year. However, after the Tigers traded for Ian Kinsler this offseason, Jackson is a candidate to move down in the lineup. With Kinsler in the leadoff spot, Jackson could be moved towards the bottom of the lineup where there is a lot less pressure.
Jackson was moved down in the lineup in the playoffs last season after struggling to make contact and produced well. He has shown decent home run power over the past three seasons, hitting at least 10 in each, but has struggled with strikeouts and getting on base. Moving Jackson down in the lineup will give him a chance to produce without the pressure he has had in the leadoff spot, and he should have increased production.
In left field, the Tigers will go with a platoon after signing Rajai Davis this offseason. Davis will team with the returning Andy Dirks. Dirks was the starter last season and hit .256 in 438 at-bats. He has been consistent over his career, but his numbers have not been the caliber of a full-time starter. Adding Davis will allow Dirks to shift into a lesser role that fits his skill set better.
Davis will also add something to the Tigers that the team lacked last year: speed. The Tigers have struggled to steal bases, and Davis adds the ability to do that. He has stolen at least 40 bases in four of the last five years, including 45 last season. Davis also hit .260 last year. Combining Davis and Dirks in left will provide the Tigers with a duo that will provide the production necessary out of left field.
The Tigers have upgraded their outfield with the moves they have made this offseason. Their moves have put together a lineup that puts the players in spots that fit their abilities best. With the changes to the lineup, the Tigers outfield becomes a much improved unit that will make them a better ball club in 2014.