With the big hype lately over the one and only, Quintin Berry, there have been many discussions as to what would be the most logical desired outfield, personnel wise, assuming everyone is healthy. As disappointing as the play has been from the corner outfielders in Brennan Boesch and Delmon Young, many are quick to think Berry should replace one of them in the starting lineup. With Andy Dirks soon to return, what will the landscape of the Tiger’s outfield look like?
Here’s how I see it; during interleague play, when the National League team is home, Jackson would play in center as always, Dirks would be in left, and Boesch would start in right. This would leave Young and Berry as the odd-men-out. Of course, Young could be used in the late innings as a pinch hitter, and Berry as a pinch runner. With Young hitting about .300 over the past month, it would be smart to utilize that in the late innings.
Comparatively, as Berry has cooled off offensively, hitting just .167 in his past ten games and 4-for-27 (.148) with two walks, six strikeouts, and one steal over his last nine games. So, obviously, we have to utilize his speed and since he has struggled to get on base, it would make sense to use him as a pinch runner in the late innings. When the American League team is home, that would be where you would see Young as the DH. This is where he is best suited. I know, for all of you fans that jumped on the Crunch Berry bandwagon, you would love to see an outfield of Berry, Jackson, and Dirks…but, that would leave out the hot hitting Brennan Boesch. After McClendon tweaked his swing, he is 12-22, with a two home runs, and two doubles in his past six games batting in the 2-slot.
It is quite clear that Jackson is and always will be the leadoff hitter for the Tigers, even though many of the Berry fans would say that spot belongs to Quintin Berry. One, Berry has a .267 career average in the 7 years he has been in the Minors. Two, he has a history of struggling to get on base. And three, he has an unbelievably high strikeout percentage. Jackson’s walk percentage has gone up each of the past three years, while Berry’s has decreased. Statistically, Berry is sitting at just a 7.4 % walk percentage and Jackson’s at 11.6 %. The same would also go for strikeout percentage, with Berry’s at 27.2 % and Jackson at just 18.6 % this season.
As for those saying Berry is a huge defensive upgrade to Young, think again. According to FanGraphs.com, when comparing Young and Berry’s last few seasons in left field, Young’s UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) is .4, and his RF/G (Range Factor/ Game) is 1.82. While Berry’s UZR is -2.6, and his RF/G is 1.48. Ultimate Zone Rating puts a run value to defense, measuring how many runs a player saved or gave up through their fielding prowess (or lack thereof). Range Factor per game is basically a number that tells us if they can get to more balls than average or not and it factors putouts made and assists. Now Berry is quite a bit faster than Young overall but, still, Berry would only be a very minimal upgrade to Young. Like I said earlier, Young has hit over .300 in the past 20 games, so why would you take that bat out of the lineup for a marginal defensive upgrade?
Ultimately, and to be completely honest, Jackson and Dirks are the only above average outfielders on this team, but if you want the best blend of players offensively and defensively, this is the way it would have to be. You would keep some pop in the lineup without sacrificing too much defense.
Story written by Stephan Rhymer and Jake Exline