As we sit right now, the Detroit Tigers are 75 games into the 2012 season, with a record of 36-39. Obviously, this is not even close to meeting the high pre-season expectations of nearly everone, myself included. What with a division championship and ALCS appearance last season, combined with the off-season signing of Prince Fielder, I had expected the tigers to be somewhere around 45-30 at this point with a comfortable 6-8 game lead in the division.
Ok, enough of the “DOOOOM UNDERPERFORMANCE DOOOOOM” obvious stuff. I’d like to use this post to give my opinion on what the Tigers need to do from a lineup standpoint. I’m sure this will be met with some disagreements, and I welcome differing opinions. So, without further ado:
Brian Sakowski’s Ideal Tigers Lineup:
1) Jackson CF
2) Berry LF
3) Cabrera 3b
4) Fielder 1B
5) Peralta SS
6) Avila C
7) Young DH
8) Santiago 2B
9) Raburn RF
Let’s go over these 1 by 1, shall we?
Jackson leading off in CF. No-brainer right? Wrong. I strongly considered putting Berry in the leadoff spot, because while he continues to get off base, I believe his running ability is somewhat hindered by Cabrera hitting behind him. That’s not a knock on anyone, it just seems to me that you don’t want to put a runner in motion with one of the best hitters in baseball at the plate. Berry batting leadoff would allow him to run a bit more with Jackson behind him rather than Cabrera, but at the end of the day, I think it should still be Jackson-Berry rather than vice-versa.
Berry batting 2nd in LF. I’ve been called a Berry hater, a Tigers hater, several names not appropriate for this website, and lots of other things (death threats included) all because I’ve been a member of the “Temper your enthusiasm regarding Berry” camp since his call up. I just don’t think his success is sustainable, that’s all. But while he’s hitting and getting on base, you have zero choice but to play him everyday. Keep him hitting 2nd for right now.
Cabrera batting 3rd at 3B. Do I even need to explain this? Some people are proponents of hitting Fielder 3rd in front of Miggy, but I disagree with that sentiment. This lineup needs help, yes, but flipping Miggy and Prince isn’t going to fix Boesch or Young. Leave it be.
Fielder batting 4th at 1B. Same scenario as above. I can somewhat see the logic of hitting him 3rd, as Cabrera has been a somewhat better run producer this season, but I don’t really think hitting >.300 with power is any reason to be “demoted” to the 3rd spot as some are suggesting.
Peralta batting 5th at SS. Here’s where the actual changes come in. Peralta has been stinging the ball of late, especially as we saw last night in Texas when he had 3 hits. He’s been hitting the ball hard, going the opposite way, and just has had a very good all-around approach at the plate. I don’t understand why Delmon Young should bat 5th and fail miserably, while Peralta is stinging the ball batting 7th. Move him up, and maybe Prince can actually get a little bit of protection.
Avila batting 6th at C. Yes, his knee is hurting. Yes, he’s had some offensive struggles this season. But I would argue that he has taken 3 of his best swings of the season the last two nights in Texas. His left knee is the issue, which is his back knee when in his batting stance. We saw him rolling over a lot this season, which can be caused by a multitude of mechanical flaws, but in Avila’s case was caused by not driving off of his back side with authority. I chalk that up to knee pain, as most of your power when batting comes from your lower half. The last two nights, however, Avila has driven off his back side with authority, leading to much better contact and actually hitting the baseball hard. This to me signals a sign of much better things to come for Alex, at least offensively.
Young batting 7th at DH. For all of Delmon’s shortcomings and lack of any competant approach at the plate, he’s still hitting .262 with at least moderate extra-base power. Yes, that is unacceptable for a designated hitter, and even more unacceptable for a designated hitter batting 5th in the lineup. Drop him to 7th, and the numbers become a little bit easier to swallow. I’m not really defending Delmon, but for the time being, with the roster being what it is RIGHT NOW, I believe this is our best bet.
Santiago batting 8th at 2B. I was one of the people that advocated giving Raburn some time at 2B since his recall due to his improved hitting, but last night shut me up real quickly. Raburn should be forced to burn his IF glove. Now, Santiago isn’t exactly God’s gift to man with the glove or with the bat, but he plays very solid defense and his bat has been picking up a bit lately. Hit him 8th, allowing the R/L/R/L lineup Leyland loves so much, and take anything you get from him offensively as a bonus to his solid D. This isn’t to say that the 2B situation is solved by Santiago, as he can easily be upgraded, but for the time being let him start there.
Raburn batting 9th in RF. I know. Here’s where I will be met with the “RAYBURN SUXX MAN YOU’RE AN IDIOT” comments. But Raburn is actually a pretty good outfielder. As a matter of fact, I would argue that Raburn is better defensively in the OF than Berry (/braces for impact). Berry just has that plus-plus speed that allows him to make up for taking bad routes to balls. Raburn also has the best arm on the team, and it’s really not even close. He has an OPS of over .800 since his recall from Toledo, and while yes, he still has holes in his swing, he’s a much better option than Boesch at this point.
Boesch, Laird, Worth, Kelly. I suppose I wouldn’t necessarily hate the idea of DH’ing Boesch on occasion vs. RHP, but to be honest, if we had any legitmately viable replacements, Boesch should be sent to Toledo to try and figure this whole “adequately hitting the baseball and getting on base” thing out.
Well folks, there you have it. 1,000 words on how I think our lineup should look on most nights, barring a trade.
Please feel free to comment or contact me on twitter @B_Sakowski with your thoughts, and thanks for reading!