‘My focus is simply hitting’

Niko Goodrum mentioned the phrase “hit” seven occasions in a row Tuesday to emphasise his priorities main as much as the 2021 season. It is a job he did not accomplish for the Detroit Tigers final 12 months, ending with a .184 batting common in 43 video games.

The 28-year-old lastly found a primary home at shortstop however, following his return from an oblique injury, was promptly moved to second base as Willi Castro emerged in his absence. (Castro, 23, had a .349 common in 36 video games.)

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New supervisor AJ Hinch refers to Goodrum as a super-utility participant, praising his versatility and Gold Glove-caliber protection. But Goodrum, getting into his fifth MLB season, is aware of he cannot keep except his offense improves.

“I do not name the pictures,” Goodrum mentioned. “The most important factor is hitting. That is what it’s. You bought to hit. It does not matter about protection. What you discover out is the blokes that hit, it does not matter if they’ll play protection, they’ll be within the lineup.”

Tigers shortstop Niko Goodrum fields a floor ball off the bat of Reds designated hitter Matt Davidson within the third inning towards the Cincinnati Reds at Nice American Ball Park in Cincinnati on Friday, July 24, 2020.

Regardless of Goodrum’s offensive woes, the Tigers tendered him a contract and avoided arbitration with a $2.1 million deal for 2021. Except he’s non-tendered, he will not turn into a free agent till after the 2023 season.

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Amongst his 29 hits, Goodrum had seven doubles, three triples and 5 dwelling runs to go along with 20 RBIs. He struck out 69 occasions and labored simply 18 walks. In 2019, Goodrum hit .248 with 12 homers, 45 RBIs, 46 walks and 138 strikeouts throughout 112 video games.

His .185 expected batting average (second percentile in majors) and 38.5% strikeout fee (first percentile) had been abysmal. This winter, he tweaked his strategy in hopes of evolving into an entire switch-hitter.

Detroit Tigers utility player Niko Goodrum's 2020 MLB percentile rankings from Statcast.
Detroit Tigers utility participant Niko Goodrum’s 2020 MLB percentile rankings from Statcast.

As a left-handed batter, he owns a profession .206 common with 29 homers in 788 at-bats. Conversely, he has a .323 batting common with 4 dwelling runs in 254 at-bats as a right-handed batter.

“I am a pure righty,” Goodrum mentioned. “That is a problem, with left-handed not being my pure aspect. I am attempting to get to the purpose the place I clean issues out left-handed and determine the place I am at. Getting my strategy there will likely be very helpful.”

Defensively, Hinch plans to make use of Goodrum all over the place. He has big-league expertise at second base (105 video games), shortstop (81), first base (55), left area (31), proper area (14), third base (11) and middle area (eight).

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“I believe it is turn into extra useful throughout the trade,” Hinch mentioned in December. “Guys are getting paid that may try this. That is a method (to make the utility function enticing for gamers), simply letting them understand how good guys have succeeded in these roles. Additionally, being very direct. You may’t disguise it from gamers. Communication is vital. Honesty is vital.”

Transferring Goodrum round offers Hinch flexibility all through the roster. For instance, he might put Goodrum at first base and Jeimer Candelario at third base to get a complete evaluation of Isaac Paredes at second base. That is considered one of many potential mixtures.

With out Goodrum, it turns into harder to check gamers at secondary spots.

“So far as me shifting round, it is regardless of the workforce wants,” Goodrum mentioned. “I do not write the checks. If that is the function I obtained to be, then that is the choice the supervisor and entrance workplace must make.”

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At shortstop in 2020, Goodrum recorded a .991 fielding share with one error in 117 possibilities throughout 31 video games. He had plus-Three defensive runs saved at shortstop. (For comparability, Castro was minus-7.) As a second baseman, Goodrum had a .976 fielding share in 11 video games.

Goodrum acknowledged he was happy to complete within the top three for American League Gold Glove at shortstop, together with winner J.P. Crawford (Seattle Mariners) and Carlos Correa (Houston Astros).

He hopes to obtain the {hardware} sooner or later in his profession, however to take action, he must be within the lineup. And to remain within the lineup, Goodrum must constantly hit.

“It was sufficient video games for me to see one thing,” Goodrum mentioned. “It was only a powerful season as a result of everybody goes to evaluate you off nevertheless many video games you play. It’s what it’s. I obtained what I wanted out of it to see what changes I must make.”

Evan Petzold is a sports activities reporter on the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at or observe him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

This text initially appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers’ Niko Goodrum has one goal for 2021: ‘Focus is hitting’

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