Albert Pujols is not what he once was. He is still going get his 30 homers and 90 plus RBI’s. However, Albert currently has a bum foot. That has effected his protector in the lineup, Josh Hamilton and the Angels are struggling. Jered Weaver is out and the newly acquired Tommy Hanson and Jason Vargas haven’t panned out so far. Some are saying that their hitters (like young stars Mike Trout & Mark Trumbo) will come around but they are very seriously doubting their pitching staff.
I think what’s missing is Torii Hunter. Remember Harold Baines? That’s who Torii has become. He has always had power but with his hitting wisdom has matured with age. Hunter was also smart enough to realize that there might be a better lineup to hit in that doesn’t possess a Pujols.
Torii ditched his halo for the motor city and who can blame him for that? He currently has the best job in baseball. He hits second in front of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. If that isn’t good enough for you he also hits behind of Austin Jackson. Jackson has slowly become one of the premiere lead off men in baseball. If you think I am wrong, who is your team’s lead off man? Would you rather Jackson?
I know what you’re thinking, anybody could flourish hitting there in that lineup. I agree, but the fact that its a quality veteran like Hunter makes sense. Most two-hole hitters are small ball middle infielder types that bunt and hit balls on the ground.
Hunter’s other former team the Minnesota Twins have made headlines this year by batting former batting champ Joe Mauer in the two-hole. Who says batting your best hitter third is the law? As an opposing pitcher who lets the lead runner on, you would probably prefer to face someone who is going to bunt next. Facing Hunter or Mauer in that same situation is brutal. They can keep the at-bat alive by fouling off many pitches and then they smash a RBI double to the gap. Then you have to face Miguel Cabrera followed by Prince Fielder having already given up a run. Sounds like the ideal scenario and you don’t have to give up an out by bunting someone over.
Torii’s career batting average is a respectable .278 but in his 30’s he is hitting .285 with 164 homers. Prior to turning 30 his career average was .264 with 133 homers. In fairness of a finished product, I have not included this season’s stats in this Hunter breakdown.
The point is Hunter does have the best job in the baseball. I also want to raise my glass to his manager Jim Leyland for breaking the mold by letting a tough out stand in the on deck circle to start every game. There is a lot of players who would have career years hitting where Hunter does, but Torii is just the perfect one for the job.
Categories: American League Happenings