Kody Clemens could be the spark the Tigers need


Through 40 games this season, the Tigers have the worst group of hitters in the majors -- and one of the best hitters in Triple-A. Is it time to make another call to Toledo?

The Tigers have already dipped into their Triple-A reserves frequently for pitching help. Injuries have demanded it. A frigid offense demands a spark, and Kody Clemens deserves a chance to provide it.

The 26-year-old is hitting .303 with a .907 OPS this season. The Tigers, as a team, are hitting .220 with a .601 OPS. Clemens ranks third across Triple-A with 23 extra base hits. The Tigers are last in the majors in extra base hits. They are last by a mile in runs scored.

For as bad as Detroit's offense has been, it's been even worse against right-handed pitching: .210 with a .582 OPS. The lefty-hitting Clemens is feasting on righties: .342 with a 1.026 OPS, including all eight of his home runs. His strikeout rate is higher than you'd like, but at least it comes with power.

The Tigers have been power-deficient all spring. Their starting lineup in Tuesday night's 2-0 loss to the Twins -- Detroit's fifth time being blanked this season -- has produced as many homers this year as Aaron Judge. A season that opened with a simmer is slipping away before the summer. Despite an overachieving bullpen and a rotation weathering a storm of injures, the Tigers are tied for last in the American League because they aren't hitting a lick.

It wouldn't be hard for A.J. Hinch to find Clemens a role, always a concern when calling up a hot-hitting prospect. He can play both corner outfield spots and every infield position but shortstop. And the Tigers have a need in left field, where their best left-handed hitter, Austin Meadows, is on the IL and seemingly out indefinitely due to vertigo.

"We're very concerned with what's going on with Austin," Hinch told reporters over the weekend.

Meadows was one of the only Tigers hitting righties this season. His primary replacement, the switch-hitting Willi Castro, is better against lefties. Same for part-time outfielder Eric Haase. Unless the reviews are negative on Clemens' outfield defense in Toledo, it would behoove the Tigers to give him a shot. It might behoove them regardless.

Because if not now, when? Clemens, a third-round pick in 2018, is in his fifth year in the Tigers' system. He's in the midst of the offensive breakout the organization has been waiting for. There is an opportunity for him in Detroit. He has earned the chance to grab it, and perhaps help the Tigers grab hold of their season.

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