One of 2014’s most frustrating players to watch for Tigers fans has been right fielder Torii Hunter. Torii’s a five-time All-Star and nine-time Gold Glover in his career. And he’s always been one of baseball’s more likable players. But this year, he has looked nothing like the old Torii. Instead, he looks like Old Torii. It’s like he has somehow aged a decade since the end of the 2013 season.
His defense is atrocious. I mean, it’s laughably bad. Magglio Ordonez was a statue at the end of his career in right. Ryan Raburn was a comedy of errors out there. And Brennan Boesch was a sick, bizarre combination of both. Torii is managing to outdo those three in the two and a half months we’ve seen this year. It’s sad.
And at the plate? Ugh. When Hunter arrived from the Angels last year, he seemed to be trying to hit every ball to right field. And he had success, lacing base hit after base hit the opposite way while putting up a .304/.334/.465 slash line. This year? He seems to be trying to pull everything. He does that goofy bat chuck after every swing, as if he thinks every ball is leaving the yard. And he takes walks about as often as Phil Coke throws clean innings. It hasn’t been a good combination.
It’s not surprising that Torii has been compared a lot to a former Tigers punching bag, Delmon Young, by several fans online. Bad defense? Check. No patience at the plate? Check. Embarrassingly low on-base percentage? Oh yeah.
But is the comparison fair? Has Hunter’s stock really fallen that far? Luckily, TigerSnark is here to solve this mystery with the exact science I like to call “Catfight”. Ten categories, Delmon vs Torii, and we’ll see who the better man is.
1. Most Recent Tigers Offensive Stats
Delmon: 2012- .267/.296/.411, 89 wRC+, -0.5 oWAR, 3.2% walk percentage, 18.4% K percentage.
Torii: 2014- .264/.289/.441, 98 wRC+, 0.4 oWAR, 2.9 % walk percentage, 15.9 % K percentage.
Advantage: Slightly to Torii. But they are way too similar for comfort. And yes, Torii is walking less than Delmon did.
2. Most Recent Tigers Defensive Stats
Delmon: -1.7 dWAR (baseball-ref), -4.1 UZR (Fangraphs)
Torii: -1.6 dWAR (baseball-ref), -10.3 UZR (Fangraphs)
Advantage: There are no winners here. Delmon was a DH most of the year and Torii has had only two months of numbers. But both are terrible.
3. Most Recent Tigers Salary
Delmon: $6.75 million for 2012.
Torii: $14 million for 2014.
Advantage: Delmon. The Tigers are paying Hunter more than twice what Young made to put up close to the same numbers. The other suspected Undercover Twin, Joe Nathan, is only getting $10 million to suck this year.
4. Place of Birth
Delmon: Montgomery, Alabama
Torii: Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Advantage: Push. I’m amazed both are able to tie their own shoes.
5. MLB Debut
Delmon: Beaned by Freddy Garcia in his first at bat. Got his first MLB hit, a home run, off of Garcia a few innings later.
Torii: Pinch-ran for Terry Steinbach in his only appearance of the 1997 season for the Twins.
6. MLB Family Members
Delmon: Dmitri, his brother, hit 82 home runs for the Tigers from 2002-2006.
Torii: Choo Freeman, his cousin, hit 3 home runs in his entire career for the Rockies from 2004-2006.
Advantage: Delmon. Love ya, Dmitri.
7. Tigers Playoff Legacy
Delmon: Will be remembered as a playoff monster. He was named the 2012 ALCS MVP for Detroit and is the team’s all-time postseason home run leader with nine.
Torii: Will be remembered for falling over the wall connected to the Green Monster.
Advantage: Delmon again.
8. History of Umpire Violence
Delmon: In April of 2006, Delmon was ejected from a Triple A game for arguing a strike three call. Before heading back to the dugout, he flung his bat and it struck the umpire. He was suspended 50 games for the incident. A year prior, Young was suspended for three games for bumping an umpire during an argument in Double A.
Torii: In August of 2012, Hunter accidentally slashed the home plate umpire near his left eye with his cleats while sliding home. Due to it being an accident, Torii received no punishment.
Advantage: Hunter. Delmon’s a nut.
9. Starts Fights With:
Delmon: Umpires, New Yorkers unlucky enough to walk past him while he’s drunk.
Torii: Bud Norris.
Advantage: Torii. Fuck Bud Norris.
10. Groups Offended (So Far)
Delmon: Jews. Umpires. Fans of OBP.
Advantage: Push. There are no winners here.
Final Score: Delmon wins! 4-3-3!
No arguing with science, people.
Hopefully Torii can get things turned around. He has a career OBP of .334, which is exactly the OBP he put up in 2013 with Detroit. If he can get his swing back to where it was the past couple seasons, all will be fine. If not, someone needs to hit Brad Ausmus in the face with a brick for continuing to hit Hunter in front of Cabrera and V-Mart. Let Avila or Suarez hit second. They have the next highest OBP after the big two thus far.
As for the defense? Who the hell knows what’s happening there. Father Time is a prick, I guess.