In 2013, Detroit Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter managed to hit 17 home runs but only seven of them came in the first half. Some believed that he was pressing early on in the season by trying too hard to get his 300th career home run out of the way. Once that finally happened, the power started showing up again. Now, through the first five games of the 2014 season, Hunter has already hit three long balls in just 20 at-bats.
Hunter, who once had a stretch where he surpassed 20 home runs 10 times in 11 seasons, actually first started seeing his power fall off during his final season with the Los Angeles Angels in 2012 when he belted just 16 home runs through 140 games. However, his batting average went up that season as he hit .313 which happened to be the first time he had ever batted above the .300 mark.
Last season, Hunter hit .304 to go along with his aforementioned 17 home runs. Heading into the 2014 season, many Tigers fans were once again expecting to see a Hunter who would hit for more average and less power than he did during his younger days. However, his early power surge has left many wondering whether or not he will once again be able to return to being the 20-25 home run man he was earlier on his career in 2014. If Hunter can stay on this pace and manage to get back up there, it would be absolutely huge for the Tigers.
Miguel Cabrera is the only player on the Tigers’ roster who is essentially guaranteed to hit 20 or more home runs as long as he stays healthy. It would not be surprising to see Austin Jackson reach the 20 home run mark this season, and Hunter, Victor Martinez and Ian Kinsler have all been there in the past, but none of them were considered to be locks to get there in 2014.
The Tigers are already seeing the benefits of the Prince Fielder trade, but the move also took a bat who was responsible for 55 home runs and 214 RBIs over the past two seasons out of their lineup. However, it now appears that Hunter and company will be doing their fair share to make up for the loss of that run production this season.