Detroit Tigers: A case to fill roster with 2019 non-tendered free agents

Between the nine Detroit Tigers with the most plate appearances in 2019, they posted a cumulative 0.2 FanGraphs WAR (fWAR). So let’s upgrade their hitting with some newly available free agents.

Following along with MLB.com as they tracked players being non-tendered, I got the idea to see if I could put together a team of these players better than the 2019 Miami Marlins. Brian Anderson‘s 3.1 fWAR put an end to that notion, so I thought of one better–the 47-win Detroit Tigers.

The Tigers 0.2 fWAR from the nine players with the most PAs was a marked improvement over the -2.6 fWAR they put up total as hitters. Even though 56 players were non-tendered by the deadline, I’m just going to keep it to a starting nine, hitters only.

Some new attractive free agents didn’t make it to arbitration with their former teams this season. Some were outstanding defenders (Kevin Pillar, Yolmer Sanchez), others are yesteryear’s prospects who have lost their flame (Addison Russell, Taijuan Walker), and also one-dimensional players (C.J. Cron, Domingo Santana).

Disclaimer: The following list may not include the position each player played at most in 2019, but it is a position they have played.

Let’s get into the positions then and see how the 2019 Tigers stack-up against the newly minted non-tendered free agents.

C: Detroit Tigers- John Hicks 333 PA .210/.240/.379 (-1.2 fWAR)

C: Non-Tendered- Josh Phegley 342 PA .239/.282/.411 (0.3 fWAR)

1B: Detroit Tigers- Brandon Dixon 420 PA .248/.290/.435 (-0.1 fWAR)

1B: Non-Tendered- C.J. Cron 499 PA .253/.311/.469 (0.3 fWAR)

2B: Detroit Tigers- Niko Goodrum 472 PA .248/.322/.421 (1.9 fWAR)

2B: Non-Tendered- César Hernández 667 PA .279/.333/.408 (1.7 fWAR)

3B: Detroit Tigers- Jeimer Candelario 386 PA .203/.306/.337 (0.3 fWAR)

3B: Non-Tendered- Tim Beckham 328 PA .237/.293/.461 (0.4 fWAR)

SS: Detroit Tigers- Ronny Rodriguez 294 PA .221/.252/.438 (0.2 fWAR)

SS: Non-Tendered- Addison Russell 241 PA .237/.308/.391 (0.5 fWAR)

LF: Detroit Tigers- Christian Stewart 416 PA .233/.305/.388 (-1.2 fWAR)

LF: Non-Tendered- Charlie Culberson 144 PA .259/.294/.437 (0.3 fWAR)

CF: Detroit Tigers- JaCoby Jones 333 PA .235/.310/.430 (-0.2 fWAR)

CF: Non-Tendered- Kevin Pillar 645 PA .259/.287/.432 (1.5 fWAR)

RF: Detroit Tigers- Nicholas Castellanos 439 PA .273/.328/.462 (0.8 fWAR)

RF: Non-Tendered- Guillermo Heredia 231 PA .225/.306/.363 (0.3 fWAR)

DH: Detroit Tigers- Miguel Cabrera 549 PA .282/.346/.398 (-0.3 fWAR)

DH: Non-Tendered- Domingo Santana 507 PA .253/.329/.441 (0.0 fWAR)

Bonus Tigers: Victor Reyes (1.6 fWAR) and Jordy Mercer (0.6 fWAR)

With the bonus addition of Reyes and Mercer, who were 2nd and 4th in fWAR for the Tigers, respectively, but not in the top nine in PAs, the total fWAR comes to 2.4. The total fWAR for this offseason’s non-tendered free agents comes in at more than double, with an even 5 fWAR.

To compare, the National League’s worst team, the 57-win Marlins, had a total of an 8.3 fWAR from their nine most used hitters. The triple-slash lines between the Tigers and non-tendered players wasn’t a huge difference, which means some of the fWAR was defensive or baserunning driven, so it’s possible my Tigers wouldn’t have scored more than the 582 runs the actual Tigers scored.

According to FanGraphs definition of WAR, neither team would have what they deem a “solid starter,” which sits at 2-3 WAR. There are a few “role players” (1-2 WAR), and mostly “scrubs” (0-1 WAR). At five of the nine positions, the Tigers player ended 2019 with a negative WAR, which is to say they might’ve been better with “a freely available minor leaguer or a AAAA player from their bench.”

Next: Chicago Cubs officially non-tender Addison Russell

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Or in 2020, they could be better off with my Detroit Tigers team.

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