The Tigers have addressed their needs with their last two signings. Rajai Davis adds speed and defensive ability to the outfield while Joba Chamberlain adds bullpen depth. Davis signed a two year contract worth $10 million and Chamberlain signed a one year deal worth $2.5 million.
Joba Chamberlain is one of the more risky Tiger signings. He is long removed from his dominant 2007 and 2008 numbers. As a rookie reliever in 2007, he posted an ERA of .38 in 24 innings and 34 strikeouts. Then in 2008, he split time between starter and reliever. His ERA was a solid 2.60 in 100.1 innings with 118 strikeouts. Since then, his ERA has only been under four once. Back in 2011, he had an ERA of 2.83 in 28.2 innings of work,
Chamberlain has struggled with injury in his career. Since 2010, he has had surgeries on his right ankle and his right elbow. He missed the whole month of May last year with a strained right oblique. If he can stay healthy he should be a good addition to the bullpen. Chamberlain is someone who could benefit from a new start after being in the harsh New York environment.
In recent years, the Tigers have been considered one of the slowest teams in baseball. They stole 35 bases as a team last year. That is good for the lowest total in the league. The Tigers were also caught stealing 20 times. In comparison, the Red Sox stole 123 bases and were only caught 19 times. The Tigers are leaving runs on the base path with their lack of speed.
Rajai Davis had more steals last year than the Tigers. He had 45 stolen bases in 108 games. His lowest total over the last five years is 34. Davis is a career .268 hitter who has only played in over 140 games in a season twice. He batted .284 and .257 in those seasons but stole over 40 bases in each. He is expected to platoon in the outfield with Andy Dirks.
New manager Brad Ausmus could be taking this team in a new direction. With the team’s new found speed, they now have the ability to steal more bases. It will be interesting to see whether steals will become a bigger part of the Tigers offense. Without the run producing power of Prince Fielder, the Tigers may need to start manufacturing some runs on the base path.