Tigers offense: Assessing Dirks, Avila ... 

May, 17, 2012
The disappointing, sub-.500 Detroit Tigers are 11th in baseball in runs scored, but that's mostly because of three players: Austin Jackson, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder have combined to hit .311 with 18 home runs and 70 RBIs.

Jackson is 14th in baseball in OPS. (Hopefully the abdominal strain that forced him from Wednesday's game isn't serious; Don Kelly would not be a suitable replacement for the Tigers or fantasy owners.) Cabrera's OPS is down 82 points from his career mark, but he's still getting it done by being on pace for 35 home runs and 144 RBIs. He also has been better than advertised -- think competent, not Gold Glove-caliber -- at third base. The case can be made he's fantasy's top player right now, but I ranked him second behind Ryan Braun in our recent Top 250 update. Fielder's numbers are more significantly down, but I'd call him a target for fantasy owners, not someone to dump. He was ESPN Fantasy's 23rd-ranked player in the aforementioned Top 250.

After that, it's a mess and, in general, a mess that fantasy owners want to avoid. I liked Alex Avila on draft day as a top-10 catcher, but he's starting to be dropped in ESPN standard leagues, and for good reason. A few other catchers have passed him (Jesus Montero and Carlos Ruiz, but not yet on Jonathan Lucroy). Shortstop Jhonny Peralta has been terrible. Outfielder Brennan Boesch quickly lost his coveted No. 2 lineup spot, which overrated him in the first place. Delmon Young has embarrassed himself off the field and has a .619 OPS on it. Second baseman Ryan Raburn is unplayable.