The Tigers claimed first baseman and left fielder Marc Krauss off the waiver wire today, after the Tampa Bay Rays placed him there on July 4. Obviously, Dave Dombrowski is trying to fill a Miguel Cabrera-sized hole at the not-so-hot corner, and since Krauss is a first baseman whose name at least starts with "M," we're well on our way to fixing the flat tire and getting this bus back on the road.
But who is Marc Krauss?
First of all, don't look at the numbers. No, no, h-- look, I said don't do th-- okaaaay, see? Now you're upset, and that's what I was trying to avoid.
Yes, Krauss is only slashing .133/.188/.267 for the year, part of it with Tampa Bay and part of it with the Los Angeles Angels. But let's look at two important things: one, he's only played in 15 games this year, and two, the team he was with last year was the Houston Astros. Remember? The team that cut J.D. Martinez loose, and who is now violating the Geneva Convention vis-a-vis cruel and unusual punishment inflicted on baseballs for the Detroit Tigers?
Ok, fine, Mr. Logical, you're right, there is absolutely zero correlation here. Even though the Astros lead all of baseball in home runs and clearly love power-hitters, and even though the guy they accidentally let go turned out to have quite a bit of magic home run dust in his cap, and even though it appears like Krauss might also fit the description.
Here's the deal: I'm looking for some silver lining, and Dave Dombrowski isn't an idiot. He's not going to just blindly grab any first baseman at random to replace Miguel Cabrera, with no regard for his offensive stats. But it's quite difficult to evaluate Krauss's major league performance, given that he had 146 plate appearances in 2013, 208 in 2014, and all of 48 this year. Put it all together, and after three years, he still barely has enough plate appearances to make up a full season.
Looking at his minor league stats, though, in the three seasons where he got at least 500 plate appearances, he posted OPS numbers of .880 (2010, Advanced A), .779 (2011, Double A), and .887 (2012, across three teams, mostly Double A, but 22 games at Triple A).
In that 2010 season at Advanced A in Visalia, he was 23 years old and smacked 25 home runs for the year (that was the year his teammate Paul Goldschmidt hit 35, so he may have been slightly overlooked). To put that in proper context, in the last five years, only about 12 players a year will hit more than 20 home runs in that league.
He experienced a bit of a power drop as he moved up the ranks, and 25 home runs at Advanced A became 16 and 20 home runs at Double A, which became 10, and then five, and then four at the Triple A level, but two other things happened as well: he hit a lot of doubles, and he started getting less playing time. Since reaching Triple A in 2013, he has never had a season of more than 314 plate appearances.
So what can Krauss do in the next six weeks or so? It's hard to say, but it seems like the potential for some slugging is there, given enough plate appearances. The same thing was true of Andrew Romine last year, we just had to struggle through dozens and dozens of at-bats that ended with him flailing at third strikes and angry callers lining up in WXYT's phone queue to demand that Romine be sacrificed and Stephen Drew be acquired instead.
The point is, we try to keep a level-headed approach here at BYB, and we're not saying that just because he came from the Astros he's going to be the next J.D. Martinez, but we do want to s--
I think we're just gonna call it now and say that Marc Krauss will be the next J.D. Martinez #nopressure— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) July 6, 2015
Ok, that's exactly what we're saying.