Oct 3, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Detroit Tigers designated hitter J.D. Martinez (28) reacts after hitting a three-run home run against the Baltimore Orioles during the third inning of game two of the 2014 ALDS playoff baseball game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
Without Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera in Spring Training (and possibly the beginning of April) who will step up in the lineup?
Dan: I think it will be Nick. He is a .300 hitter in waiting and his line drive stroke to CF is evolving to find the gap in right-center. I seem to remember quite a few fly ball outs to RF last year. He may well end up the team leader in triples this season.
Zane: You would be hard-pressed to find a team as lucky as this Tigers one. Not many teams can lose a former MVP, in Cabrera, and an MVP runner-up, in Martinez and replace them immediately with talent like J.D Martinez, and Yoenis Cespedes. With the two talented veterans nursing separate injuries, Martinez and Cespedes certainly have the ability to pick up the slack, and I believe they will, even if those lofty expectations carry into the beginning of the regular season. Martinez is a disciplined hitter who chronicles every at-bat, and Cespedes is a phenomenal talent. Despite panic in the media, the Tigers could do a lot worse if Cabrera and Martinez are not ready on opening day.
Josh: I mentioned him earlier, but I firmly believe Cespedes will be the savior of this Tigers club with Cabrera and Victor out. He can put a team on his back, so hopefully he can pull through. Even better, I hope Victor and Miggy aren’t out too long.
Steve: This will become the Cespedes show really quickly needed his bat. And I think he steps up into the role with a huge bang of a start in April. JD Martinez also needs to come through with a repeat performance this year. Losing his production will cost the Tigers dearly. Castellanos also needs to start with a better stroke then he had all of last year and is expected of him.
Tom: A lot of people will say J.D. Martinez needs to step up, but I would be thrilled if he could produce anywhere near what he did last year. Tigers’ fans better hope last year was not the outlier for Martinez in his career, because the Tigers have developed a team that needs all of its lineup to produce. That being said, the entire lineup needs to produce, not just one player. Yoenis Cespedes needs to step up and be the threat he has been for the Oakland A’s in the playoffs in years past. Ian Kinsler has to produce like he did last season. The Tigers two platoons in center field and catcher. The Tigers have tried to build a lineup like they did in 2008, but they are hoping for a much different result.
Blair: That type of offensive talent is irreplaceable, so everyone else (J.D. Martinez, Cespedes, Castellanos, Kinsler) will have to step up. If Cabrera can’t go at first base, I’m intrigued by Jordan Lennerton‘s splits against right-handed pitching–they’re very good, and he’s also a premier defender.
Matt: I’ve been saying it since the end of last year, Nick Castellanos is a player on the rise. His defense will be better. He worked all offseason on it and has a year of experience under his belt. Up until last year, Casty spent several years in other positions and not playing third. He had on the job training at the position in the big leagues. He had a decent year for a rookie last year, but with a year of competing against the best pitching in the world, I really see him hitting 20 homers this year and hitting between .270 and .280. I also would support Casty moving to second in the lineup once Miggy and V-Mart are healthy. This would give him better pitches than he saw last year while hitting in front of the bottom of the lineup.
Dave: Without question, J.D. Martinez is the Tigers next best hitter after Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. I know some will argue Ian Kinsler or Yoenis Cespedes, but Martinez had a big breakout season in 2014. Martinez hit .315 with 23 home runs, 56 extra-base hits, 76 RBI and 57 runs a year ago. Those numbers will be hard to repeat, but I expect the 27-year-old to hit .300 with 20 home runs and at least 65 RBI again. He will step up if Cabrera or Martinez can’t start the season.