What People Think:
Andy Dirks is the subject of some debate among people familiar with the Tigers. Some think he can stick as an everyday outfielder and some think he’s destined to be a solid fourth outfielder and left-handed bat off the bench.
Jim Leyland likes to say he’s “just a ballplayer” and that’s not a bad description, even if it’s a massive cliché. He’s got all five tools, but none of them are flashy or elite level. Dombrowski said after the 2012 season that Dirks may or not be an everyday outfielder, which just about sums up the line Andy Dirks walks.
What the Numbers Say:
Over the course of two major league seasons, Dirks has registered about one full season of plate appearances. His career line is .293/.340/.454, which is absolutely everyday player worthy. He has 14 HR, 10 SB, and only strikes out 14.6% of the time. The metrics don’t love his defense, but the sample size isn’t big enough to really buy into those numbers just yet.
The minor league numbers seem to indicate that these big league numbers are replicable and the soon to be 27 year old Dirks can contribute for the Tigers for years to come.
What My Eyes Tell Me:
I’m a big believer in Dirks. I think he does the little things very well like playing the ball off the wall in the outfield and making good decisions on the basepaths. He has a solid OBP and puts the ball in play.
Most of that value at the plate comes from his willingness not to over-swing in search of homerun glory. Dirks benefits from hitting line drives toward the gaps and runs well enough to extract a little bit of value on the bases.
On defense, like I said earlier, I think Dirks does a lot of little things well. He has enough speed and arm strength to be a solid corner outfielder and his ability to be in the right place at the right time makes him good enough to stick. He’s probably an above average left fielder and an average right fielder long term.
Dirks hits well enough and plays defense well enough in my book to make him a big league regular and I could easily see a full season of at bats and good health resulting in 3.0 WAR next season if the Tigers give him that shot.
The Dotted Line:
Dirks has less than two seasons of big league services so he won’t even be arbitration eligible until after the 2014 season. It’s way too early to worry about Dirks’ contract status and he should make his role more clear by the time it’s time to talk turkey.
Fantasy baseball players should be wary of Dirks because he may end up as a platoon or bench guy, so he won’t get enough ABs to help you. Additionally, if he does get a lot of starts this year, it will be near the bottom of the lineup, so runs might be harder to come by. He’ll help you in AVG, but HR, R, RBI, and SB will really depend on how much he plays. Even if he does get a full season of ABs, he still won’t wow you in a lot of categories.
Dirks is a really useful player. At worst, he’s a really solid fourth outfielder and at best he’s a solid MLB regular. Dirks can put up a really good slash line and solid defensive work and should be helpful to the Tigers in some capacity.
He’ll head into 2013 with a big league roster spot locked up and will have a shot to earn a spot in the starting lineup with a good spring.