Tigers' Torii Hunter caps off torrid July

Let’s hear it for the old guys! Detroit Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter hit his 11th home run Wednesday and doubled twice in a rout of the Washington Nationals, raising his batting average to .316. Hunter, 38, completed a stellar July in which he hit .374 and seven home runs.

We can debate all day how much Hunter’s lineup spot has aided him this season -- of course it doesn’t hurt -- following Austin Jackson and hitting ahead of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, but the point is, coming off his strong month, his numbers look awfully similar to last year, and perhaps that in itself is a surprise.

Hunter ranks 18th among outfielders on the ESPN Player Rater, which measures production across the five standard league categories, and certainly his batting average is making the biggest mark. Entering Thursday, only nine players qualified for the batting title have a higher batting average, and interestingly enough, only two are eligible in the outfield (Michael Cuddyer, Mike Trout). Hunter is also among the league leaders in runs scored. We can thank Cabrera, Fielder and lately Victor Martinez for that. Hunter showed in July that concerns over his power were premature. He’s a smart enough hitter that he’s able to adapt from game to game and week to week, which is making him pretty safe in fantasy, and with Cabrera sitting recently with a sore hip, Hunter has stepped up and hit three home runs over five games.