Andy Dirks | Left Field | #12
2014 salary: $1.63 million
2013 statistics: .256/.323/.363, 9 HR, 16 2B, 2 3B, 7 SB, 42 BB, 84 K
Projected role: Platoon left fielder
Finally, we come to the first player in our series who actually played exclusively for the Tigers last year. Andy Dirks is one of a few players the Tigers will be looking for to bounce back in 2014. After being one of the pleasant surprises of 2012, hitting .322, Dirks fell back to earth last year. This has been blamed by many on a nagging knee injury that hit in spring training and never really faded during the year.
Dirks will be asked to hit righties with Rajai Davis as his platoon partner in left. Last year, Andy was a meager .260/.327/.371 against right handed pitching. It was a far cry from the .336/.375/.515 of 2012. That was fueled by an exceptionally high .394 BABIP. The Tigers would be very satisfied if he could even split the difference and hit about .290. That seems unlikely, but .270 and a slugging percentage up over .400 would be ideal. In addition, his walk rate has risen every year he’s been in the majors – further improvement there would be a nice addition.
Defensively, despite the knee problems, Dirks was rated as the fifth best left fielder defensively last year by the Fielding Bible panel, ranked second in UZR, and was a finalist for a Gold Glove, so there’s little question regarding his defensive skills.
Essentially, the Tigers will hope a healthy Dirks bounces back at the plate. A repeat of 2012 is likely asking too much, but if he can hit righties better than he did last year, he’ll do just fine in his half of the platoon role, and be a valuable contributor on defense as well.