Monday, March 07, 2011

Is Andy Dirks for Real?

Andy Dirks is impressing Jim Leyland this spring (Photo courtesy of Roger Dewitt/hueytaxi)

At the beginning of spring training, before a game had been played, Jim Leyland announced that a relatively unknown rookie Andy Dirks had a legitimate shot at making the opening day roster.  That came as a bit of surprise considering that the 25-year-old Dirks is not even on the 40-man roster.

Once the games started, fans got a glimpse of what was impressing the Tigers manager.  In nine games, the left-handed batting outfielder has been the hottest Tigers hitter batting .478 with six extra base hits in 23 at bats.  That's an awfully small sample size, but just the fact that he leads the team in games played shows that the Tigers are taking a serious look. 

Who is this guy?  In his first year in the advanced minors in 2010, he batted a combined .292/.336/.492 for double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo combined.  This included a very strong final month in Toledo where he batted .375 with 15 extra base hits in 93 plate appearances.  By all accounts, he played over his head at Toledo, but continued his hot hitting in the Dominican Winter League with a .906 OPS in 46 games.   

The six-foot tall 195 pound Dirks does not have one outstanding skill, but does a lot of things well.  His best position is left field, but is capable of playing all three outfield positions at at least an average level.  He does not have blazing speed but is a smart base runner who stole 22 bases in 26 attempts last year.  As a hitter, he makes good contact, and has pretty good gap power. He's not a big home run hitter, but could potentially reach 15 homers in the majors some year.

Here is what some of the prospect experts are saying about him:

Mark Anderson, "A well-rounded player, Dirks' broad skills and solid skill set has long given scouts the vision of him as a traditional fourth outfielder."

Baseball America Prospect Handbook: "He doesn't have standout tools, but he grows on managers because he plays the game the right way and always gives you 100%.  If all works out, he could be a David Dellucci-type regular, and should at least have value as a fourth outfielder."

Baseball Prospectus 2011: "Dirks is a gamer who worked his way up to triple-A and profiles as a likable fourth outfielder."

He sounds like a fourth outfielder.  Doesn't he? He also sounds like the type of hard-working gritty player that managers appreciate.  That should give him a major league career.

Will his career start on opening day, 2011?  Since he's not on the 40-man roster and he is probably competing with Clete Thomas and Brennan Boesch for the final bench spot, he's a long shot.  Since he probably can't do anything that Thomas can't do and doesn't have Boesch's power, there really isn't a need to create space for him on the roster.  He'll likely start the season in Toledo, but will see Detroit at some point this year if he hits.


  1. He sounds like a breath of fresh air. I'll take any excuse I can to not give a roster spot to Don Kelly or Clete Thomas, so mind as well take a flier on Dirks. What about other potential sleeper outfielders like Jeff Frazier or Kody Kaiser, who would be next in line after Dirks?

  2. Jeff Frazier is only an option for the Nationals.

  3. Matt beat me to it. Frazier signed a minor league deal with the Nationals in the off-season.

    Their best outfield prospects - Fields, Vasquez and Garcia - are all pretty far away from the majors.

    If you're looking for a sleeper, then I guess Kody Kaiser would be next in line. He's 26 years old and will probably play for Erie this season. He's not a top prospect by any means, but could be a backup outfielder in the majors some day.

  4. Yeah a couple of those guys are pretty young and I remember hearing about that million dollars they gave to that 16 year old Vasquez.

    Well Kaiser may not be that exciting, but he does have some semblance of interesting hitting statistics. As long as we have Dirks in the rotation with Raburn/Wells/Boesch, he might not be able to ever get a chance though. If he serves no other purpose other than to be an excuse to not keep Kelly and Thomas around then that's something positive at least imo.

    By the way, how come you have a word verification required for each post, just curious?

  5. I go back and forth on the word verification thing. It's a pain, but if I remove it, I get porn sites and other fun sites putting advertisements in the comments. If I had more people commenting, I might remove it.

  6. Yea you can't win either way. Well nobody wants to see links to sites like, or wait maybe we do, that could be a baseball site!

  7. So with Kelly getting the word he's on the Opening Day roster, how does this affect Dirks?

  8. Bert,

    I was already pretty sure that Kelly was going to make it, so it doesn't really affect Dirks in my mind. Kelly has versatility, but I think Leyland used him too much last year. I hope he doesn't approach 250 PA again.


  9. Pffft, well for one, the fact that he is already being promised a spot this early and still not deserving of it, I would say that opens a fresh case and claim for Leyland to be immediately fired on the spot. If DD does not fire him tomorrow because of that statement, then he is at fault and in arrears with myself and he/she that is responsible for Universal Justice.

    For one, his comments are such dumbass things to say, like he got SOME big hits. Every MLB player in history can say he's had a number of big hits here and there, there's no disputing that for any guy that makes it this far, but baseball has nothing to do with being able to get a big hit once or twice, it only matters at what rate or consistency you can do that, and Kelly has atrocious numbers in that regard, so there is no logic to complement him on hitting in that fashion and with that type of comment. Leyland is too stupid to even understand this. It's really sad. He's not only dumb, but he's old and his brain doesn't even work well on top of already being a weak mind in itself. UGGH!

    Second, "he's a real valuable guy" Leyland says. I'm not even going to touch that other than ask, on what basis?!?!?! WTF?!?! Valuable in what sense? A penny is valuable but you don't say that in the context that it will get perceived like as if you can actually buy anything with it of any relevant consequence. I mean he's not "valuable", but he's "real valuable"!!! LOL, OMG Jim, you freaking moron, please keep your dumbass mouth shut!

    And he's a "real good fit on our team", fit for what? To solidify our certain WS domination? That kind of fit? Or fits in well to help us lose in an embarrassing fashion both in competitive baseball terms and financial business terms???

    G2H JIM!

  10. I would disagree with only one looks like Dirks might be able to do something Clete Thomas can't do: make consistent contact. Thomas is completely over matched against power pitchers. Of course, it remains to be seen if Dirks is any better in this regard against the best competition.

  11. Key thing you just said..."it remains to be seen", well Thomas has been seen and he looks like garbage from every angle except the angle that makes him look like a nice guy. That's enough in itself to make it Dirk's job for now, he doesn't have to do a darn thing but enjoy the fact that he is the last man standing in this game of russian roulette where the other players already blew themselves away.

    Last man standing is always better than a corpse on the ground.

  12. Ed, I agree that Dirks has the potential to make better contact than Thomas. I don't know if that will make him better than Thomas, but it is something he can maybe do that Thomas can't.

    TSE, I don't agree that Thomas is garbage. I don't want him batting third and playing every day like he was doing a couple of years ago, but that wasn't his fault. He's OK as a backup outfielder.

  13. Ok, agree to disagree. Clete has yet to have one good season in the pros or minors imo. If he was the best defensive player at his position then maybe he could justify a job in this league, but he isn't, and he can't hit and I don't have see any reason why he all of a sudden will. Good luck to him in trying to prove me wrong.

  14. I hope Leyland is a little more hair trigger this year. I was glad he rode the Boesch wave in the beginning of the season, but he should have brought someone up at the end of the season.

    With Dirks possibly starting in the minors, I hope he is brought up when the first guy falters.

  15. Yes, he did stay with Boesch too long. According to Baseball Prospectus, he had the worst half season for a regular in the 21st century.

  16. His second half line of BA/OBP/SLG/OPS was:

    .163 .237 .222 .458

    That's tough to beat.

  17. Also, is there a way to quote other people's comments? I see there are tag examples for basic formatting, are there tags to do quotes?

    Oh and just noticed Titus from MTS chimed in on this page, any chance he can supply animated gifs over here too? I love those! Although I still read MTS from time to time and can see them there, but it would be cool if this site could expand to have more options.

    How the heck are you Titus? Any new TSE-graphics out there that I might have missed? :) lol

  18. Blogger is very basic. I don't know if there's a way to do that stuff unless you're good with HTML (which I'm not). I think you have to cut and paste to quote other people's comments.

  19. Yeah obviously didn't work, everything showed up just as I copied it but the quote code disappeared at least, but it doesn't appear like a normal quote. So the best thing you can do is to to copy the text, and maybe insert your own italics around it is probably the best you can do.


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