Well at this point I am not 100 percent sure what to believe. I’ve seen the headline, “Torii Hunter to return for 19th season” and I have seen the headline, “Tigers’ Torii Hunter says retirement is a possibility.”
There have been other headlines like these floating around the internet since the Detroit Tigers were eliminated from the postseason on Sunday and Torii Hunter finished out his two-year, $24 million deal with the Tigers.
No love lost there, as anyone who knows me knows I am an A’s fan. Meaning that if you follow baseball (and chances are you do since you are reading an article on a baseball website) you’d know that people like me are not necessarily fond of the team from the Motor City.
When Justin Verlander shuts out your team two years in a row in game five of the ALDS give me a call and we can comiserate on how miserable it is.
So no offense to Hunter but I don’t care about the Tigers’ loss nor do I care if he ever plays in a Tigers uniform again.
I do, however, think that Hunter is on heck of a ballplayer. I also think that at age 39 (he’ll be 40 next June), while he may have lost a step defensively, the five time All-Star and seven time Gold Glove Award winner can still hit.
He could easily find a role as a designated hitter on a contending team next season. If the Orioles lose Nelson Cruz to free agency, if the Tigers ask him back or heck if he’ll take a pay cut send him out west to Oakland, regardless he still should be playing baseball if he wants to.
At 39, I understand contemplating retirement. Derek Jeter timed everything perfectly surrounding his retirement. It probably couldn’t have been more perfect but when you look at Jeter it was pretty obvious that the Captain had lost a step. He had some slumps, missed some plays he wouldn’t have 20 seasons ago and that’s fine.
Jeter has five rings. I think that with the right team Hunter still has a chance at a World Series ring, something that has been absent from what has otherwise been a spectacular career.
I do not think he should retire.
Looking a Hunter’s numbers over the past couple years, it still appears that the man is in his prime or maybe not HIS prime but still putting up numbers that a lot of players wait their whole careers to put up.
He’s not the defensive ace he once was but his batting stats are out of this world for someone who has spent 18 seasons in the big leagues.
His 2013 slashline: .304/.334/.465 and in 2014 he put up a slashline of .286/.319/.446. His numbers with the Angels in 2012 were even better. He’s hit 15-plus homeruns in the each of the past three seasons and driven in 92, 84 and 83 runs respectively.
I know a team that would kill for that kind of offensive production, don’t you?
Might his numbers continue to decline? It’s a possibility absolutely. Still, if he took a primarily designated hitter role on a contending team why not play a season or two more? He’s obvious capable of swinging a bat and swinging it well.
So Mr. Hunter, I think you should do just that. Keep swinging that bat, maybe even bring it over to Oakland for a short while.