Lynn Henning has a piece in today’s Detroit News once again touting Logan as the Tigers starting centerfielder – and leadoff hitter. Let’s take a look at this step by step.
We submit that one of Leyland’s pet projects during spring training will include doing everything possible to make Nook Logan a starting center fielder and leadoff batter.
Those who tried to do the same thing with Logan last year — former manager Alan Trammell and his coaches– will say to Leyland: Good luck. And they have a point. But Leyland and new hitting coach Don Slaught will work with Logan under the assumption that a guy who hit around .300 into June can hit .270 for a season if he makes some manageable adjustments.
I’m fully on board with trying to develop Nook Logan offensively, then again I’m on board with trying to develop any player offensively. But people are too fondly remembering Logan’s early start in the context of his entire professional history. Logan’s season last year was fueled by a very impressive 45 at-bat April in which he posted 422/447/578 line. It would be the only month of the season that his OPS was north of 700. From May 1st on, his line was a meager 231/286/296.
To turn Henning’s argument around, should the Tigers work under the assumption that a guy who posted a 579 OPS the rest of the season really be salvaged into a leadoff hitter?
Because Leyland understands he needs something to counter the seriously good teams in Detroit’s division: Chicago, Cleveland and the Twins. Speed is a key, and Logan has more of it than perhaps any player in baseball. Speed disrupts, it can equalize and it can break up ballgames. That’s why Leyland and Slaught will try their own approach with Logan and work to make him a .270 hitter, which they believe is within his range.
I agree that Logan, if not the fastest, is probably one of the 3 fastest players in baseball. So yes, he can run faster than the rest of the division. But if the Tigers plan to counter the seriously good teams in the division is Logan leading off and hitting 270 then the Tigers won’t be very effective. Logan is spectacular to watch on the bases, I won’t argue that. But a career OBA of 316 doesn’t really give him a lot of chances to show his speed off on the bases. Now that’s not to take away from his gazelle-like ability to track down fly balls in the outfield.
Meanwhile, the Tigers have another pretty fast player in Curtis Granderson. Now he’s not Nook Logan fast, but Granderson is quick, and athletic, and plays good defense, and shows every indication of being able to hit 270 with some power. And that’s where my rub is with the situation. The Tigers have a better option. It isn’t out of any animosity towards Logan, and I can definitely see a spot for him on a big league roster. But Granderson has performed well at every stop of his professional career, while Logan has been fast.
Granderson’s minor league career:
Year Team Name Age Level AB Avg Obp Slg Ops 2002 Oneonta 21 A 212 0.344 0.417 0.495 912 2003 Lakeland 22 A 476 0.286 0.365 0.458 823 2004 Erie 23 AA 462 0.303 0.407 0.515 922 2005 Toledo 24 AAA 445 0.29 0.359 0.515 874
Meanwhile here are Logan’s numbers
Year Team Name Age Level AB Avg Obp Slg Ops 2001 West Michigan 21 A 522 0.262 0.335 665 2002 Lakeland 22 A 506 0.269 0.321 0.336 657 2003 Erie 23 AA 514 0.251 0.316 0.333 649 2004 Toledo 24 AAA 427 0.262 0.303 0.351 654
I don’t think it is even really close. Across their minor league careers Granderson’s worst season was still 158 OPS points better than Logan’s worst. I understand wanting to incorporate Logan’s speed into the lineup, and it’s great that they want to make him a 270 hitter. I’d understand it even more if the Tigers didn’t already have a very viable (and preferrable) option on hand.