The Detroit Tigers have a chance to change the look of their lineup to form almost a complete “thunder and lightning” combination. They have made slight tweaks the last few seasons to give themselves more speed on the field and move away from the station to station teams of past to a team that will steal some bases and take the extra base on the field. They do get thrown out a lot on the bases, but better coaching should help the Tigers cut that rate down.
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The Tigers thunder is very well known. Its base starts and ends with Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. The Tigers hope J.D. Martinez can duplicate his 2014 campaign and Nick Castellanos can continue his progression past his rookie campaign. These four along with Ian Kinsler who is a nice combination of speed and power form a lethal combination that pitchers have to pitch carefully to avoid multiple extra base hits.
The Tigers have also made tweaks to add more speed to their team. The Tigers first added Jose Iglesias. Iglesias can handle the bat very well and runs the bases better than most of the Tigers. He only stole 5 bases in 2013, but if he can keep his legs healthy, Iglesias should steal more bases because of his base running ability.
The Tigers then added Ian Kinsler and Rajai Davis last offseason. Kinsler only had 15 steals last season, his second lowest total in his career. That is partially due to Miguel Cabrera batting behind him half of the season and Kinsler not wanting to take the bat out of Cabrera’s hands. Kinsler did a great job taking extra bases while avoiding the costly TOOTBLANs.
Everyone knows about the speed of Rajai Davis. Davis stole 36 bases last year, his lowest total since 2011. When Davis is on the base paths, opposing pitchers are obviously distracted and are forced to throw more fastballs which allows batters to feast.
The Tigers added more speed this week with the addition of Anthony Gose. Gose stole 15 bases last year in 94 games which projects to just over 25 steals in a full 162 games. Gose’s speed will also help cover center field in spacious Comerica Park, a key feature the Tigers lost when they traded Austin Jackson.
The Tigers have a chance to complete their thunder and lightning combination with their replacement of Torii Hunter. Nori Aoki, Tony Gwynn Jr., Emilio Bonifacio, Alex Rios, Nick Markakis, and Nyjer Morgan would allow the Tigers to cover a lot of ground in the outfield and help the Tigers on the base paths.
The Tigers have had some of the best lineups on paper the past few years because of their great power. Now, they can combine it with speed and have the best of both worlds on paper entering the 2015 season.