Victor Martinez Injury: 10 Players Who Could Fill the Void for Detroit Tigers

Mike MoraitisAnalyst IJanuary 17, 2012

Victor Martinez Injury: 10 Players Who Could Fill the Void for Detroit Tigers

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    Victor Martinez is one of the big bats in the Detroit Tigers' lineup, but because of a torn ACL in his left knee, Detroit will be without him for the majority of the 2012 season.

    The news broke after an MRI revealed the injury was suffered during a conditioning workout. Martinez was one of the Tigers' best hitters in 2011, batting .330 with 12 home runs and 103 RBI. He contributed to the third-best offense in the majors and helped the team win an AL Central title.

    With the free-agent market dwindling down to a few good players left, the Tigers will have to jump on one of the available options they have to replace Martinez.

    Here's the best offensive players left that could possibly come close to matching Martinez's output.

Prince Fielder

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    It doesn't seem any team wants to jump into the Prince Fielder pool and be 30 deep per season for the next 10 seasons, so it isn't likely the Tigers will be takers unless the price comes down.

    With a new-found reason to get into the sweepstakes thanks to Martinez's injury, the Tigers might find themselves re-thinking the possibility of bringing Prince to Detroit. He would easily triple Martinez's home run output and be an upgrade driving in runs as well.

    If the money is right, which, right now, I'm doubtful it is, the Tigers could be a new contestant. But don't hold your breath.

    On to the more realistic options.

Carlos Pena

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    He may not be the best hitter of this bunch, but Carlos Pena is certainly near the top in the power department.

    Last season, Pena hit 25 home runs and drove in 80 RBI. With fewer RBI, he more than doubled Martinez's home run totals. He did spend last season as a member of the lowly Chicago Cubs, so those numbers could be improved with better surroundings.

    He won't be much of an average hitter, but Pena has proven he can drive in runs on a consistent basis each year and play some first base doing it.

Johnny Damon

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    Like Pena, Johnny Damon has been talked to by the Yankees about their need for a DH, but he will become an instant candidate for the position in Detroit should the Yanks choose to go elsewhere.

    Damon hit 16 home runs and 73 RBI while batting .261 last season. He spent 2010 with the Tigers, where he didn't produce much, hitting eight home runs while driving in 51 RBI. Damon still has power to pull the ball, but that didn't seem to help him in Comerica Park.

    He's certainly more capable than his 2010 output in Detroit, but that season might have left a bad taste in the Tigers' mouth.

Hideki Matsui

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    I'm not sure how much those knees have left, but when healthy, Hideki Matsui has always been a guy who can drive in runs.

    Like Martinez, Matsui won't hit a lot out of the park, but he is good for at least 70 RBI, which he has surpassed every year of his MLB career with the exception of two injury-plagued seasons.

    Come playoff time, there are few who are more clutch than Matsui. He's proven time and time again that he can get it done in a big spot and even propelled the 2009 Yankees to a World Series championship.

Vladimir Guerrero

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    Vladimir Guerrero might be the biggest question mark of all the players on this list. Although he played almost a full season in 2011, I'm not sure how much Guerrero has left physically.

    When healthy, Guerrero still has a beast in him. His production was down in 2011, but with better protection than he had in Baltimore, he could improve on the 13 home runs,  63 RBI and .290 average he posted last season.

    One thing's for certain: If Guerrero can make it into the batter's box, he can still swing the stick.

Casey Kotchman

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    Casey Kotchman had himself a nice little season in 2011 as a light-hitting first baseman for the Rays.

    Kotchman batted an impressive .306 with 10 home runs and 48 RBI. He was a part of one of the worst offenses in the MLB and could find more RBI opportunities with the Tigers if given the chance.

    At 28, Kotchman is the youngest viable option left and could be someone they hold onto for the future if he continues to play well. And he's no slouch at first base, either.

Jorge Posada

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    Fitting almost exactly the mold of Martinez defensively, Jorge Posada is a bad defensive catcher. Clearly, he wouldn't be an everyday option at his age, but maybe Posada would be happy playing a small role at catcher and a large one at DH.

    He didn't exactly thrive in a DH-only role in 2011 and showed less than acceptable defense with the few looks he got at first base.

    This is a move I would avoid altogether, given Posada's eroded offensive abilities and his nature to pout about playing time. And that's a Yankee fan talking.

    Besides, he's retired anyway, and I would doubt that's going to change unless the Yankees miraculously called.

Adam LaRoche

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    Before an injury-plagued 2011, Adam LaRoche was coming off an impressive 2010 that saw him hit 25 home runs and 100 RBI. It was a career year for the 32-year-old first baseman.

    LaRoche is a solid defensive player and if he can return to his 2010 form, he could be a key piece to the Tigers' offense.

    The Washington Nationals have reportedly been looking at Prince Fielder and if they were to sign him, LaRoche would be instantly available.

Derrek Lee

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    Derrek Lee might be the best fielding first baseman on this list, helping give Detroit some flexibility with their DH slot.

    Lee hit 19 home runs and 59 RBI with two different teams in 2011. He still has the power to be a big hitter and with some help around him, he would drive in more runs as well.

    As far as all-around consistency in every category, Lee might be the best option on this list. He can hit for power and drive in runs, as well as hit for a solid average and play a great first base.

    Still, he has had various injury issues over the years and might not be the most reliable on an everyday basis. He missed 49 games last season. Playing the majority of his season at DH could alleviate some of those fears.

Yoennis Cespedes

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    All winter long, it's been a patient waiting game for Yoennis Cespedes, and the Tigers have been rumored as one of the teams interested.

    Cespedes, 27, is considered a five-tool player, showing tremendous speed, power and defensive ability in the outfield. A video displaying his skills has made its way through YouTube.

    The Tigers appear set already in the outfield, but Cespedes carries a lot of potential with him and could fill the void left by Martinez's injury. I think Detroit would find space if he could help.

    He would be an expensive option, though, seeking around $60 million to play in the states.