Since Craig Monroe's implosion last year, several players have gotten time in left field for the Tigers. Ryan Raburn, Marcus Thames, Timo Perez, Cameron Maybin, Mike Hessman, Jacque Jones, Clete Thomas, Brandon Inge, Gary Sheffield, and Matt Joyce are some guys just to name a few. Is Matt Joyce finally the answer? If not, is there help on the way? Let's find out.
Matt Joyce, 23
Actual: .212/.276/.519 (.299/.367/.536 Toledo)
Expected: .231/.293/.538 (.289/.358/.526 Toledo)
Joyce has never been known for his plate discipline, and that has been exposed lately. He can handle the position defensively, but if he can't right this ship soon, one of the several other options will have to be ready.
Marcus Thames, 31
Ryan Raburn, 27
Jacque Jones, 33
Gary Sheffield, 39
Marcus Thames needs to face mostly lefties. If he gets an everyday job, he will be exposed. I may have been a bit wrong about Raburn, as he looked way overmatched the other night. He still should be next in line. Yes, Jacque Jones was that bad. I've got nothing more to say on Sheffield.
Jackson Melian, 28
Timo Perez, 33
Melian is just filler, and it turns out he's not doing much of a job filling a spot. Timo Perez hasn't fallen off of a cliff as it may seem. He'll turn it around in time, but still doesn't deserve a big league spot.
Wilkin Ramirez, 22
A closer look really takes all of the shine off. Strikeouts have always been a problem with Ramirez. This year, he just happens to be getting very lucky. You don't hit .427 on balls in play and sustain it. The "expected" .199 batting average may seem harsh, but given his track record, the line looks fairly reasonable. It could get ugly if this mirage leads to a spot on the major league roster.
Brandon Timm, 23
Pedro Cotto, 25
Timm, the 9th round pick in 2004, has moved up a level every year and really hasn't done anything to impress. Pedro Cotto is the Tigers' Toby Flenderson. He's apparently a very nice guy, but he is just awful at everything. Justin Justice was in left for Lakeland, but moved to center field upon his promotion to Erie.
Marc McBratney, 23
Joe Tucker, 24
McBratney has been shipped off to extended spring training. For the undrafted free agent, the end of the road is probably near. Tucker is a utility man without much utility. Kody Kaiser is also getting some time out in left field, and Jordan Newton has long been rumored to be headed to the outfield.
Ivan Espinoza, 19
The other Espinoza is one of the many Tigers in Venezuela struggling right now. The unrelated Alexis has graduated from the VSL and will likely be playing in the Gulf Coast League starting in June.
Like third base, left field is a position that is very thin throughout the organization. Also like third base, not many players who end up in left field play there in the minor leagues. If you are looking for left field help, next week's rundown of centerfielders may give a better idea of what is in the pipeline. The most disappointing part of this analysis was the revelation that Wilkin Ramirez probably isn't for real. Considering all of the hype around him for so long, it seemed like he has finally turned a corner. I'm not so sure he's anything more than trade bait at this point.