Detroit Tigers: Giving Tyler Collins a Chance at Center Field

The Detroit Tigers have not created much suspense for fans who are anxiously awaiting the 2017 season. Nearly every position has a full-time player.

Currently, Detroit Tigers fans are awaiting the front office decisions about the pitching rotation and center field. With pitchers and catchers arriving in Lakeland in the next two weeks, the rotation answers will soon be given.

But, the answer to the question at center field has been one of great concern.

And, one player is working hard to get that spot: Tyler Collins.

Working Out in the Off-Season

According to an article from Jason Beck with MLB.com, Collins has been working on his speed with the hopes of filling the role at centerfield. According to Beck’s research, Collins performed well at centerfield in 2016. He had 79 putouts while playing centerfield converting “all but one ‘easy’ plays.” He also “made slightly more ‘tough’ plays for outs than he allows hits.” Collins also covered “a good amount of ground on fly balls.”

Aug 30, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers center fielder Tyler Collins (18) signs autographs prior to the game against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Aug 30, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers center fielder Tyler Collins (18) signs autographs prior to the game against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

One thing that Collins does have going for him is his level of fitness. He is strong and agile. According to Beck, Collins lost 10 pounds to help add to his agility and speed.

Collins is aware of the immense space in centerfield at Comerica Park. In his interview with Beck, Collins said: “I watch the game and I see what a tool speed really is. And I think it can be as powerful as any of them. I can run, so why not get a little bit quicker too?”

Speedy with a Left-Handed Bat

Collins is one of the speediest men on the team and his left-handed bat makes him a smart addition to the heavily right-handed team. Despite the fact that Collins has not stolen many bases while Detroit, he has the speed to do it. What he does more often is advance extra bases – serving as a good candidate to earn RBIs for other players. If he were placed in an appropriate spot in the order, say second, he could score runs on singles or doubles from Miguel Cabrera or another big hitter. But, if he placed behind a slow runner like Victor Martinez, his ability would be wasted.

Memorable Moment in 2016

Collins had a few memorable moments in 2016. One occurred in a game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway. His quick catch at center field and 226-foot throw home resulted in a double play for the Tigers.

This play highlighted Collins strength at center field and his ability to read plays.

He also had moments on offense that were impressive, too. On July 15, 2016, he hit a game-tying home run against the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park. This home run was in his first game back after he memorably flipped off the crowd earlier in the season. the home run was big for Collins, who needed to prove he was more than just a player with an attitude. It also seemed like a turning point in his career, as he continued to show signs of improvement from that moment on.

Looking the Part

After seeing Tyler Collins at TigerFest, he looks like he is ready to take on a bigger role with the team. He was confidently interacting with fans and sharing his personality on stage and at autograph tables. He truly seemed like he was enjoying himself, his teammates, and the spotlight. At the end of the long event, Collins was the last player signing autographs for fans.

Collins is one of two players who will also be out of minor league options in 2017. Steven Moya is the other. While Moya has plenty of maturing left to do, Collins seems to be ready for daily action. Collins will have to show up big during his time in Lakeland to prove to the front office that he is ready for daily play. With better discipline at the plate and speed on the bases and in center field, Collins could have a serious shot at being a regular player this season.

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