Improved outfield 'D' has been key for Tigers

Improved outfield 'D' has been key for Tigers

OAKLAND -- The Tigers mixed and matched a lot in the outfield in 2013. Andy Dirks, Quintin Berry, Delmon Young and Ryan Rayburn each started at least 15 games in left. The offseason addition of Torii Hunter changed that dynamic. He solidified right. Dirks started 95 games in left while Austin Jackson remained in center.

Young is gone. So are Brennan Boesch, who got the bulk of the starts in right in 2012, and Berry. And that could be a factor in this American League Division Series, where all games will be played in ballparks with spacious outfields: Oakland's O.co Coliseum and Detroit's Comerica Park.

"Our outfield defense is better this year. Torii Hunter solidified that a little bit, certainly," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "Last year, if you remember, we platooned a lot in right field. This year, we did that a little bit more in left field than right field. Torii settled into right field and Jackson in center, and that makes us real good. And Andy Dirks is a great outfielder. So, yes, I believe our outfield is better than last year."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.