Grading the Tigers: Outfield

In comparison to last season, the Tigers offense from their Outfielders had a solid improvement in 2004 – largely in part because of the addition of OF Rondell White. However, even with the White addition, they still didn't have a player reach the 20 Home Run plateau, a necessity for any team, let alone one that struggled throughout the season with its power. So, in turn, the 2004 Tiger Outfielders turned out some mediocre grades.

OF Rondell White: B-BR> White cooled after a hot start at the beginning of the year, but still finished out the season with respectable numbers; .270-19-67. As expected, he struggled with his health at times, only appearing in 121 games, but that had to be expected out of a player who played 140 or more games just once. White will return again in 2005 as the team's starting Left Fielder.

OF Alex Sanchez: C
Sanchez gained fame early on in the season for his masterful bunting ability. But for what ever Sanchez gave the club extra with his bunts, he took away in bad fielding and poor base running. Sanchez also shows minimal patience at the plate, not a good quality for a leadoff hitter. Because hamstring problems sidelined Sanchez throughout most of the 2nd half of the season, many took a more objectionable look at his role, and deemed that his contributions might not be as valuable as originally thought, especially when considering the fact that he's arbitration eligible, and surely will receive a big raise in the offseason. Someone will probably give it to him, but it won't be the Tigers.

OF Bobby Higginson: C-
Higginson continues to hang around, but appears to only be collecting a paycheck, as his best days are clearly behind him. Higginson's OPS was a very pedestrian-like .742, only being that high because he's still patient at the plate, as he tied for the club lead in walks with 70. Higginson has a year remaining on his contract and will be paid the $8.85 million no matter what, but the possibility remains that he'll collect it without sporting the English ‘D', as the Tigers might elect to cut the 34-year old fan favorite.

OF Craig Monroe: B+
Monroe spent 2003 swinging for the fences, and put up very solid power numbers, with 23 Home Runs. In 2004, Monroe concentrated on bringing his average up, and did just that. His power suffered at the beginning, but he was an absolute monster down the stretch, as he was arguably the group's most productive player, as evidenced by his .824 OPS. Monroe will probably be back next season, the Tigers will just once again be facing the same dilemma that they've faced in the past – where to play him.

OF Marcus Thames: C+
Thames forced the Tigers to call him up after an incredible stretch with Toledo, and put up solid production in limited action with the club. He blasted 10 Home Runs in 165 at bats, and led the group in OPS at .835 (likely due to his slugging percentage over .500). Thames fate could likely depend on what the club elects to do with Higginson – as they will again struggle to find at bats for him, so long as White, Higginson and Monroe are ahead of him. The acquisition of a pair of Outfielders via waiver claims doesn't help his chances either, as both are more versatile defensively than Thames. His status with the club is definitely up in the air.

OF Nook Logan: C+
Logan, despite not dominating in AAA, got the call-up to Detroit, largely because of the injury to Sanchez and the necessity to add a true Centerfielder to the club. While he showed better base running ability, defense, and patience than Sanchez, his hitting tailed off as the season wore on, putting him more in line with his minor league averages. Logan may or may not be back with the Tigers, much will depend on who the Tigers start the season with as their Centerfielder. If they go out and make a big acquisition, Logan will probably return to AAA. But if they instead elect to try Monroe full time in center, Logan will probably stick as a defensive replacement.

DH Dmitri Young: B
It was another solid season from ‘Da Meat Hook, after a breakout 2003. Young lost most of the first 2 months of the season due to a broken leg, but still came back in just over 100 games to hit .272 with 18 Home Runs and 60 RBI. Young doesn't really have a position, but his bat will keep him in the lineup, meaning a return to the club as the team's full-time Designated Hitter. It might however be in Young's best interest to get out in the field and work some, as after this season the club will have to decide whether or not exercise his option for around $8 million – no small amount of change, especially for a full time DH. In any case, for 2005, the team will welcome him, his bat, and his jovial personality back.


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