A recent article on ESPN.com by former baseball GM, former is key here since its clear someone didn’t think he could be a GM anymore, said the Tigers should consider including Dirks in a trade package for left-fielder Gerardo Parra. Obviously it is a column on hypothetical’s, but I find it fascinating another member of the media thinks the Tigers should dump such a promising young prospect who really performed pretty well last year.
Yes, Parra obviously would give the team a solid left fielder and a clear leadoff hitter, but it is not like his type of player isn’t already available on the open market, or on the team. With the Diamondbacks last year, Parra hit .292 with eight home runs, 46 RBIs and was on base .357 of the time. Sure those numbers aren’t bad, but they aren’t really that great either.
In half the games, Dirks hit .251 with seven home runs, 28 RBIs and a .296 on base percentage. He did that in just 78 games, mind you his first career games, while Parra needed 141 to hit his numbers. While Parra had 55 walks to Dirks’ 11, the two nearly scored the same number of runs. In his limited time, with much of it coming after Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez in the order, Dirks touched home plate 34 times. Para only scored 21 more runs than the young Tiger. When it really comes down to it, it is about productivity and scoring runs, Dirks was able to do it more.
There are a lot of numbers there, but what I am getting at is how little of a difference there is between Dirks and Parra. Now obviously this is still a hypothetical trade, but if Parra is the standard for solid above-average outfield play, won’t Dirks be there in a just a few years?
Not only will 26 year old Dirks probably hit at an “acceptable” level in the major leagues soon, he probably will surpass the numbers even Parra put up. Just look at how much he improved during the Dominican Winter League. Sure his numbers weren’t eye-popping, but his demeanor was.
Confidence is almost more important than stats in Major League Baseball and it looks as if Dirks found some during the offseason. A hitter with no confidence doesn’t swing at the first pitch of a championship clinching at-bat ever. Dirks swung at the first pitch in his at-bat to win the league championship, which shows he knew he could hit the pitch, a good thing to see in a young developing player.
The Tigers are still looking for the outfielder that can fill the space in left field Delmon Young once occupied, but the team may already have the left fielder of their future on the 40-man roster right now.
There is no way anyone can say Dirks is a better hitter or fielder than Clete Thomas or Don Kelly and there certainly is no way, when looking at his numbers, that anyone can believe it is time to give up on Dirks. For only his first 70 games, Dirks’ numbers were impressive to say the least. The kid may live up to his hype and in the end fill a need for the Tigers in left field and at lead-off in the batting order for many years down the road.