Plenty of players fly under the radar during the course of an MLB season, many of them rightfully so. Some players simply underachieve, some weren’t very good to begin with, and some of them share the limelight with superstars, reducing their visibility to almost nothing.
Last year, the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera won the first batting Triple Crown in 45 years, leading the league in home runs, batting average and runs-batted in. If Cabrera’s shadow wasn’t enough, Prince Fielder batted a career high .313 with 30 home runs of his own. The Tigers lineup also received solid contributions from Austin Jackson, who put up a career best .300 BA.
And then there was Dirks.
While the Tigers quietly worked their way to the top of the AL Central (I say quietly, because the team basically snuck in at the last minute), Andy Dirks batted .322, also very quietly. In fact, his prowess at the plate went almost completely unnoticed.
In 314 at-bats as either DH or an outfield position, Dirks not only batted exceptionally well, he showed a tendency to get on base. His SO/BB ratio of 3.27 was by no means excellent but he made up for that by making the most of his plate appearances and driving in 35 runs with his limited number of at-bats. Dirks ended the season with a .370 OBP and .857 OPS. He also chimed in with an occasional long-ball; he had eight on the season.
Defensively, Dirks is also sound. He committed three errors in the outfield in ’12, and ended the season with a fielding percentage of .980, but this number doesn’t account for the range he brought to the corner outfield positions. Dirks is an all-out fielder, often fielding balls near the stands, or spearing himself into foul territory.
Whether defense concerns you or not, Dirks will be a great middle-late round pickup for any fake manager, so long as he can repeat his 2012 success.
One thing is for sure; he will be given the opportunity. As we outlined in our 2013 Detroit Tigers Preview, Dirks is the front-runner to win the LF position coming out of spring training. He will fly under the radar of many fake managers, and if he comes anywhere close to his solid numbers at the plate, he will be a valuable outfielder in any league.