Although 2014 has not been Hunter’s best season and fans have been quick to point out his shortcomings in right field and at the plate, he is now all of a sudden on pace to belt 20 home runs and drive in more than 80 runs while batting .260, according to ESPN. For a soon-to-be 39-year-old, that would be a pretty solid year to say the very least.
One offensive statistic that remains very low for Hunter, however, is the .284 on-base percentage, which is significantly lower than his .333 career mark. It will also be a new career low for him unless he can raise it past .306, which is a mark he set way back in 2001 with the Minnesota Twins. Therefore, due to Hunter’s near inability to draw a walk combined with the fact that he only looks like a shadow of the defender he was in his younger days, it is easy to see why fans have not been overly enthused by his performance during his second year in the Motor City.
With the emergence of J.D. Martinez and the return of Andy Dirks on the horizon, it has not been uncommon to hear fans suggesting the possibility of trading Hunter over the past few weeks. But even if Hunter were to agree with the move, it would be a mistake. It is true that Hunter has not been the .300 hitter this season that he was from 2012-13, but he is still a valuable player. He also has experience, which is an intangible asset that will surely come in handy if the Tigers are fortunate enough to reach the postseason for the fourth consecutive season.
Moreover, according to reports, Hunter is also willing to accept a lesser role if the team keeps winning. Having a veteran such as Hunter who can hit for power, provide leadership and is willing to help out in any way he can is something that any team would surely love to have. Hunter indeed still has plenty to give the Tigers, so look for him to be a large part of the team’s success down the stretch in 2014.