Mikie Mahtook Bringing Stability to the Tigers Center Field

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HOUSTON, TX - MAY 23: Mikie Mahtook #15 of the Detroit Tigers hits a two-run home run in the seventh inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on May 23, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

The Detroit Tigers rotating cast of center fielders may have come to it’s end. Whether it has been JaCoby Jones, Alex Presley, Andrew Romine, or, most recently, Mikie Mahtook, the only thing consistent about center field for the Tigers has been its inconsistency. Thankfully, that last name is beginning to stand out as the guy. Just make sure he doesn’t hear anyone tell him that.

Mikie Mahtook Bringing Stability to Tigers Center Field

He came to Detroit looking to find a permanent spot in Comerica Park’s center field, but he’s not worried about whether or not he is the number one guy there. “There’s so many other things in the game that you have to worry about,” he told reporters after Tuesday night’s win against the Kansas City Royals. ” At this point, I just want to make an impact.”

He would love to start in center, or anywhere, really, but the 2011 first round pick out of LSU tries not to think about it. “That’s obviously my goal and what I want to do,” he said when asked about him trending towards the full-time center fielder job. “It’s not something I keep in my head all the time.”

In addition to stabilizing the Tigers outfield, he is also looking to stabilize his own career, which has seen him jump all around the minors after being taken 31st overall in the 2011 first year player draft by the Tampa Bay Rays. Since then, he has been the definition of a replacement-level player in the majors.

His career wins above replacement sits at a low 1.1, which is less than a full season for an average MLB player.┬áHis power numbers aren’t exactly there at all. He only has four home runs and five doubles on the year. He also doesn’t use his speed all that well. He has one steal in as many attempts.

Mahtook arrived in Detroit as the only significant addition to the roster over the winter. He spent the last five years bouncing around various levels of the Rays system. He made his major league debut in 2015, appearing in 41 games for Tampa. He hit .295/.351/.619 in that limited time, which earned him another shot at big league action last season. He was less than stellar in 65 games, tallying an on base percentage of .231 in the majors while also bouncing around the minors.

The current Tigers starting center fielder has always had a glove; he showed that off on Tuesday night by robbing Salvador Perez of extra bases. However, his bat has begun to turn around of late. He’s hitting .364/.364/.591 for the month of June and has six hits in his last four games as the starting center fielder. This is a pleasant upgrade for a Tigers team whose center fielders are only hitting .242/.293/.366 for the entire season.

Despite his recent success, Mahtook is trying to take it all in stride. “I don’t wonder if I’m going to be the guy, “he said. “I want to be the guy, but it just comes down to whenever I get in, when my number’s called, just doing something that impacts the team.”

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