Sep 19, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Detroit Tigers third basemen NIck Castellanos (9) at bat against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
In many circles it is a foregone conclusion that Ian Kinsler will be the Tigers’ leadoff hitter in 2015. And, over the duration of the season it may prove wise to slot the veteran second baseman in at the top of the lineup. However, in a lineup that is going to struggle on the base-paths, it seems pretty clear that Anthony Gose should be hitting leadoff on Opening Day, and that Ian Kinsler should be hitting second.
The simple fact is that while the Tigers will have a lot of firepower, they will not be great on the base-paths, and they need to explore avenues by which they can put runners on base, and replace Torii Hunter‘s production in the two-spot. At this point in their respective careers Cespedes is better than Hunter.
There is no debating that. However, in this lineup Cespedes is far better suited hitting behind Victor Martinez than he is hitting in the second spot. Not only does he have an unflattering .316 career OBP, but he is much more valuable serving as protection for V-Mart.
Simply put, Brad Ausmus will inevitably have to struggle with who to put in the second spot all year, but on Opening Day, it should be Ian Kinsler, rather than Yoenis Cespedes, or even J.D Martinez for that matter. On paper, having to face J.D. Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and Yoenis Cespedes in some order, or another, is intimidating (for very good reasons), but ultimately those hitters need to be run producers, not run creators. A lineup that features J.D Martinez in the two-hole will be bad on the bases, and weak at the bottom.
With Rajai Davis in against lefties, the Tigers will put up a lot of crooked numbers, but Gose is less of a certainty. And, in all likeliness, the Tigers will be facing a right-hander on Opening Day. As it stands now, the Minnesota Twins have five right-handed starters in their rotation. So, on Opening Day, Gose should get a trial run in the leadoff spot, and Kinsler should follow him, in hopes of discovering what works best in regards to providing RBI opportunities for the Tigers’ big bats.
In short, the Detroit’s Opening Day lineup should be as follows:
- Anthony Gose
- Ian Kinsler
- Miguel Cabrera
- Victor Martinez
- Yoenis Cespdes
- J.D. Martinez
- Nick Castellanos
- Alex Avila
- Jose Iglesias
There is no guaranteeing that Gose can regularly create runs at the top of the lineup, but for the first game of the season, he certainly deserves a shot to prove that he can. Furthermore, if he can figure it out at the plate, this lineup would be very potent. It would boast two speedsters at the top, a plethora of big bats in the middle, and a back-end that is much more reliable than those of years past. Whether or not this should continue to be the everyday lineup is a different argument, but for one game, this appears to be the best the Tigers have to offer.