Miguel Cabrera should have less controversy about an MVP award this year. But if we remove him from the conversation, who is the Tigers' most valuable hitter? This is a fun exercise, but also has some value. If you are Dave Dombrowski, trying to manage risk, who do you most fear losing to injury?
Jhonny Peralta is second on the team in bWAR (Baseball Reference's Wins Above Replacement stat), and first among American League shortstops. He posted a .305 batting average with an excellent .361 on-base percentage and a .461 slugging percentage. And he played a position where a player who can hit is hard to replace. Except that he has been replaced. Dombrowski knew the risk of losing Jhonny, prioritized finding a replacement, and checked it off his to-do list.
Austin Jackson missed about a month due to injury, and is still fifth in runs scored in the American League.
Omar Infante is having an excellent season with a .319 batting average and .344 on-base percentage. But he has missed almost a third of the Tiger's games, and they had a hot streak in his absence.
Losing Alex Avila is a known risk, and while Brayan Pena has provided excellent production as his backup he has played in less than half of the Tigers' games.
Prince Fielder is hitting .262 with 20 home runs, while playing a position where good hitters are not scarce. If he were injured, Victor Martinez could man first base and the best available hitter slide into the designated hitter role.
Which brings us to Victor Martinez, hitting .289 with 11 home runs and 28 doubles. He has missed two games, filling in at first base and catcher after missing an entire season. While a designated hitter should be easy to replace, who would the Tigers actually turn to if he had an extended absence?
And while Peralta is second in bWAR, Martinez is eighth at 0.6. This indicates a player who is barely above replacement level. Likely this is due to playing designated hitter, a position that in theory should be easier to replace. But in this case it is just another strike against the stat, because Victor would be very difficult to replace.