There is no arguing the fact that Quintin Berry is not the perfect player. He strikes out too much (he had 6 K over his first five games) and he offers little in the way of extra base power. However, he also profiles as a player that could do good things towards the top of the Tigers’ order:
- He has blazing speed, with four minor league seasons of 40+ SB (and 19 in 159 AB at Triple-A prior to being recalled)
- He can draw a walk, with an 11.0% minor league walk rate
- When you combine 1 and 2, despite the strikeouts, he has the ability to get on base and should have the ability to score plenty of runs
The Tigers certainly can use that type of skill set. Obviously, Austin Jackson deserves to play when he’s healthy (and talk is that he could be back by this weekend). The question is if there is a place for Berry and Jackson together in the regular Tigers order?
Maybe Berry bats second, maybe he bats ninth, but regardless he and Jackson have the potential to form a dynamic 1-2 punch. Yes, they have similar skill sets, but they really could put the pressure on opposing teams. However, to get Berry in the order regularly someone else will have to lose AB. Let’s take a look at who the Tigers’ current options and who could be at risk of a loss in playing time:
Delmon Young – It has been a bit of a struggle for Young this season, hitting just .252 with 3 HR and 16 RBI over 151 AB. While he performed well for the Tigers after they acquired him in 2011, for the most part his career has been a series of starts and stops.
- He drove in 93 runs in 2007
- In 2008 & 2009 he combined to drive in 129 runs
- In 2010 he showed power (21 HR as well as 46 doubles) and drove in 112 RBI
- He struggled in Minnesota prior to the trade in 2011, with just 4 HR and 32 RBI over 305 AB
- After his trade to Detroit in ’11 he had 8 HR and 32 RBI in 168 AB
Of course, the power with the Tigers in 2011 also came courtesy of a 16.0% HR/FB. This season he’s down to 4.5%, matching the number he posted prior to the ’11 trade (though that would be a career low). Is there room for improvement? Absolutely, but given his career track record it is far from a guarantee.
Andy Dirks – He’s enjoying a breakout campaign, hitting .318 with 4 HR, 16 RBI, 24 R and 1 SB over 129 AB. He makes tremendous contact, with a 12.5% strikeout rate, but also does not do a good job drawing walks (5.9%).
Throw in the fact that it’s hard to believe that he can maintain a 27.1% line drive rate or a .356 BABIP (which he entered play with yesterday), and there is a lot of room for a regression for Dirks. Obviously, the Tigers are going to ride him while they can, but it likely could be short lived.
Brennan Boesch – He got off to an awful start, but Boesch has finally started to turn things around. Over his last 10 games he’s hit .306 with 1 HR, 3 RBI, 4 R and 1 SB. Is it a lot? Obviously not, but it’s a step in the right direction. However, keep in mind that he’s not likely going to be a source of a lot of power (figure a 15-20 HR hitter) and he doesn’t offer speed.
Berry is a player who has his warts, but so do the other players who are seeing regular playing time in the outfield or as designate hitter for the Tigers. Is Berry a lock to continue producing? Nope, but he shouldn’t simply be cast back to the minor leagues just because Jackson is healthy and returning to the lineup.
I could envision the Tigers going with the hot hand, and also look to set a lineup together that would put pressure on opposing pitchers. As long as Berry can continue to find ways to get on base, he’s going to help the team do just that (while also scoring plenty of runs). That means it’s not an ideal situation for any of the four players, but right now the three the Tigers’ are running out there don’t deserve to be penciled in every single day. Dirks is the closest thing they’ve got, but how much longer can we really count on that?
If you are in need of stolen bases and runs in five-outfielder formats, I could see Berry maintaining value for the rest of the season. He could struggle in the average department, thanks to his strikeout total, but we know the Tigers are willing to overlook that (as they did with Jackson a year ago). If you have room on your bench to stash him now and see what happens, it could pay huge dividends.