Examining the Detroit Tigers Batting Order


Jun 17, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Eugenio Suarez (30) at bat against the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The batting order used to be something that was an amusing talking point with former Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland. It usually ended with Leyland saying things that couldn’t be printed or aired and the press was thrown out of his office. The lineup really has not been much of a discussion, but there may be some things to discuss when it comes to the Tigers batting order and what it could look like with the impending return of Andy Dirks from the disabled list.

The lineup usually looks something like:

  1. Ian Kinsler
  2. Torii Hunter
  3. Miguel Cabrera
  4. Victor Martinez
  5. J.D. Martinez
  6. Austin Jackson
  7. Nick Castellanos
  8. Alex Avila
  9. Eugenio Suarez

Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday’s lineup aside, I believe Ausmus has done a good job with the lineup, but there is room for improvement.

The popular belief of lineup building says you start the lineup by putting your two best hitters 3 and 4 in your lineup which the Tigers filled with not only their two best hitters, but two of the best hitters in the American League in Cabrera and Victor Martinez.

The next step in building the lineup is the leadoff and number two batter and this is where the improvement can be made in the Tigers’ order. The two beliefs are you put a speed guys at the top and OBP is the most powerful tool. The Tigers have had 3 different lead-off batters this year: Kinsler, Rajai Davis, and Austin Jackson. Personally, I believe that Kinsler should lead off every day because he is the best mold of both beliefs. Kinsler has 8 steals of the year, good for second on the team behind Davis. Kinsler’s OBP is .342 which is good for 6th on the team. Now fifth doesn’t sound good, but when Martinez, Martinez, Suarez, Cabrera and Avila are the players ahead of Kinsler, he makes the most sense in the leadoff spot.

The number two batter is where the change should be made. Some believe that this batter should handle the bat well to move the leadoff guy up in situations while the other camp believes the batter should also have one of the top OBP’s on the team. Some even believe that this batter is more important than the third batter. I do not fall in that camp, but the number 2 batter is important. Torii Hunter has declined greatly over this season. Hunter’s OBP is a measly .281 which is last of all of the everyday players. He has walked 8 times the entire season and .281 is probably not good enough to even make the starting lineup. By the numbers, Eugenio Suarez is the prime number two batter with a .384 OBP in his time with the Tigers. Comerica Park would probably implode if Avila ever batted second, but he would be second on that list. If Andy Dirks can produce when he returns from the disabled list, he could win the second spot in the order and possibly put the final nail in Torii Hunter’s coffin if Martinez can continue his production.

The fifth spot in the lineup has basically figured itself out in the short term with the emergence of J.D. Martinez who will hold down the spot until he comes back down to Earth.

The 6-9 spots are filled by the rest of the batters in the lineup as you well know. This gets rounded out by picking your stats or feelings and going with it. Since we have been using OBP thus far, let’s just stay on that track. Using that stat, the lineup rounds out with Avila, Jackson, Castellanos, and Hunter.

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Using the logic I have through this article, the lineup could look something like this:

  1. Kinsler
  2. Suarez
  3. Cabrera
  4. V. Martinez
  5. J.D. Martinez
  6. Avila
  7. Jackson
  8. Castellanos
  9. Hunter

My lineup is pretty close to Ausmus’s besides the Suarez/Hunter swap along with moving Avila up in the order due to his OBP numbers. If you wanted to take out Hunter for Rajai Davis, Davis would also fall in the 6-9 batter category batting 7th because of his hot start. Both Jackson and Davis have struggled of late, but the debate between 7th, 8th, or 9th, isn’t nearly as heated as who should bat 2nd. What do you guys think?