Earlier this afternoon, the Detroit Tigers supposedly filled one of their glaring defensive voids in the outfield with 37 year old former Minnesota Twins star Torii Hunter. Hunter batted .313 in 2012 with 16 home runs and 92 RBIs for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
The Tigers will pay Hunter $26 million over two seasons – which will make him the fourth highest paid player on the team in 2013 behind Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, and Justin Verlander.
But there’s something odd about the Hunter signing – something odd about him coming to Detroit and something incredibly odd about his numbers at the plate last season.
At 37 years old, Hunter finished the season batting .313 – a full .14 points higher than his previous 14-year career high. Hunter had never batted over .300 before until 2012. His home run total was down from 23 to 16, but RBIs increased from 82 to 92 from 2011 to 2012. His average in 2011? .262. So yes, Hunter’s batting average increased .51 points from age 36 to age 37.
Hunter’s defensive abilities are nowhere near where they used to be. But the 9 time Gold Glove award winner can still get the job done, and should be a decent upgrade from Andy Dirks and Avisail Garcia in right field.
The Tigers had the chance to go after some big names this offseason. Josh Hamilton, a proven power hitter whose numbers rank second in the AL only to Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, is still on the market. B.J. and Justin Upton are both serviceable young outfielders whose best days are still ahead of them.In the hunt for a solid corner outfielder, the Tigers needed to fill a gaping hole. Here’s to hoping the organization doesn’t see Hunter as the only answer.