Check out how Austin Meadows fit in Detroit

The Detroit Tigers added a shiny new toy to the midfield this week and acquired Austin Meadows from the Tampa Bay Rays.

The one-time star (2019) is best known for his big bat, something he flashed early in his career as a former top of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was traded to Tampa Bay as part of the giant bombshell deal with Chris Archer in 2018. He reached the All-Star Game in his first full season in the American League, dropping .291 / .364 / .922 with 33 home runs (still a career high) and 89 RBI.

He struggled with the COVID season and finished that short season by battling an oblique strain that eventually led to his closure in September. However, he bounced back in 2021 by collecting 27 home runs, although his average percentage and base percentage have dropped. Still, he had 117 OPS – the second best in his young career.

For the time being, he will play off Detroit with Robbie Grossman, Victor Reyes and Akil Baddoo. When the big-minded Riley Greene returns from a foot injury this summer, the Tigers will have a four-man field.

But with so many chefs in the kitchen, there will definitely be problems, right?

The situation in the south pot

But wait a minute – three of these four players are left-handed hit players. Baddoo cut .214 / .278 / .523 against southpaws in 2021, and Meadows was just as bad at .198 / .270 / .563. Then there is Greene, who has not made a name for himself in MLB yet, although he did turn on the left in the upper youngsters last year. What will AJ Hinch, the Tigers’ manager, do when the Tigers meet good left-handed pitchers?

Fortunately, it does not look like he will be in that place often. AL Central is almost entirely devoid of high-quality leftists apart from Tigers’ Eduardo Rodriguez and Tarik Skubal. In fact, Logan Allen of Cleveland (6.05 FIP in 2021), Kris Bubic of Kansas City (5.14) and Daniel Lynch (4.82) and Dallas Keuchel of Chicago (5.23) are the only starters in the league. Minnesota has zero.

It obviously does not take into account potential customers who might be called in at some point, transactions that might happen or potential candidates. But after all, the league is incredibly weak when it comes to left-handed pitchers. If you were wondering why we were so interested in the deal, then you have your answer. The Tigers will see plenty of right hands in AL Central and Meadows will destroy the right hand and put 137 wRC + against them in 2021.

Things do not change that much when the scope is extended to the entire US league either. The Seattle Mariners boast reigning AL Cy Young winners Robbie Ray and Marco Gonzalez. Texas has a formidable quintet of options in Martin Perez, Kolby Allard, John King, Taylor Hearn and Jake Latz. The Angels’ Jose Suarez is coming off a decent yet unexciting 2021. The only Southwest Oakland on the list is Cole Irvin now that Sean Manaea has been sentenced to Padres.

Looking east, Toronto could have the best stables of leftists Hyun Jin Ryu and Yusei Kikuchi. The big one that comes to mind is the Rays’ south pot, Shane McLanahan, but other than that, only the Blue Jays are very strong in this respect. The Red Sox have a pair of veterans at 60-day IL in Chris Sale and James Paxton to go with 42-year-old Rich Hill. Baltimore’s John Means and New York’s Jordan Montgomery leave the list.

In simpler terms, Detroit’s abundance of left-handed outfielders is not as much of a problem. There are simply not many awesome starting pitchers throwing them over the mound in the American League, and especially in AL Central.

Who plays when Greene is complete?

Of course, you can not just start four outfielders. When Riley Greene’s foot is fully healed and he’s in the starting lineup – something that Detroit Free Press reporter Evan Petzold already has confirmed will happen – that means at least one of Meadows, Grossman and Baddoo will not be out there every day. What is still uncertain is how long it will take. Greene is about six to eight weeks away, but with a broken leg and the need to regain mobility and strength, not to mention his timing, his debut in the Champions League could take considerably longer.

Of course, asking where everyone will play assumes that everyone is healthy – certainly not by default – and that the away team performs as expected. If that’s the case, then congratulations, the Tigers have a big problem at hand.

In that case, they will probably all take turns having a day off, whether that means sitting once a week and / or dropping into the DH position, putting the soon-to-be 39-year-old Miguel Cabrera on the bench. Following the development of the last three seasons, Cabrera will probably sit out once in five games, provided he stays fit. It fits in nicely with the four-man off-road rotation and if Cabrera is not doing well, and the Tigers are in the fight, we may see him get a few extra days off, with the 3000 strokes highlands presumably in the rearview mirror at. at the beginning of May at the latest.

If someone is injured or injured later, Greene slips perfectly into the squad and Hinch can let Victor Reyes and Eric Haase slide onto the field as his own free time. When they see the left-hander, at least early on, we could see Grossman, Reyes, Haase outside, which will be interesting to say the least.

For defensive defense

This will probably be the most difficult of the three issues when it comes to the Meadows-Baddoo-Grossman-Greene Quartet.

The only position where Meadows gets a rating as an above-average defender is on the left field, where he recorded 8.7 UZR / 150 in 615 23 game in 2021. Baddoo’s best position by the same measure is the right field, but he recorded only 32 23 playoffs there last season. His next best is left field (-1.3) and finally center back (-5.0). Grossman is an average defender in every position in his career, but he was actually the best of the group in 2021 with 7.9 UZR / 150 on the left field.

So, where does that leave us? Meadows and Grossman both score best on the left side. As of April 5, Grossman is expected to switch to the right field, keep Meadows on the left and put Baddoo, the most athletic of the three, in the middle. Although Baddoo’s numbers have not been great in the central area in 2021, the samples are actually too small to take any of them. Baddoo is only entering his second season above A-ball, so although his ways need to be improved, there is reason to believe he can get better. He clearly has the speed to play the position very well.

Will be back when Greene returns. MLB Pipeline rates Greene’s glove as 55 out of 80, and when he’s able to do a play like that, you can see why. It will not be a very good defensive game, but with Greene back out there, the situation will definitely improve overall.

Also take into account the tendency of Tiger beginners. Casey Mize gets the shots to put the ball on the ground with 48.6% of the ball, Tarik Skubal at 39.3% and Eduardo Rodriguez at 44.9%. Matt Manning reluctantly made way for 44.7% on the pitch. Michael Pineda tends to get a lot of fly balls, but overall the Tigers pitchers should do a pretty good job of keeping the ball on the ground.

Since the Tigers are expected to have a good defense on the field with Jeimer Candelario, Javier Baez, Johnathan Schoop and Spencer Torkelson, their field team is still well suited for the defense that they will regularly step up.

Finally

The problems that the Tigers created for themselves by acquiring Austin Meadows are not a big deal at all. And it is a given that none of the players mentioned will be better at hitting left-handed pitchers or outfielders.

With the power and attack power that Meadows brings to the team, GM Al Avila solved more problems he created – and the Tigers are a better team today than they were before they acquired Meadows. They saw the need for a strong rural advantage against the large doses of redress they will face this season and took decisive action. When Greene returns, they can find out.

Next? Opening day.

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