Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera was already larger-than-life to Tigers fans, but after an 11-for-14 weekend versus the Cleveland Indians, he has returned to legendary status around the country.
Back in the day, Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis was larger-than-life too. And he had a famous saying:
“Speed kills. You can’t teach speed. Everything else in the game can be taught, but speed is a gift from God.”
Baseball experts can talk all they want about Cabrera and the Tigers power, but what really has Detroit’s offense clicking is their speed.
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The platoon in centerfield and at the lead off spot with Rajai Davis and Anthony Gose is working to near perfection. Gose has nine hits in his first 20 at-bats, and he has turned singles into doubles and doubles into triples. He even went deep in the first at-bat of Saturday’s game.
Meanwhile, Davis is only batting .143, but his on-base percentage is .455, and he leads the team with three steals. The two lead off men have combined to score eight runs in the first six games.
Gose hitting .450 after the first week is a pretty big shock, but it probably isn’t even the biggest surprise. Shortstop Jose Iglesias hitting .526 through 19 at-bats probably is and at least a couple of his hits have been infield singles that slower runners would not have beaten out.
Although Iglesias has always had the potential to be a good hitter, he is more known for having gold glove caliber defense. In the first week, he was such a jolt to the offense, reaching base 11 times in six games from the No. 9 spot.
No wonder the lead off platoon of Gose and Davis has five RBI. Iglesias also has two steals.
The offense, however, isn’t the only part of the Tigers benefitting from the speed. Detroit’s defense has been better to start 2015 due to the speed.
Gose tracked down a couple key fly balls on Saturday in what became a close, high-scoring game despite the two Cy Young winners on the mound. And everyone remembers left fielder Yoenis Cespedes’ catch over the wall on Opening Day.
Cespedes scored on a sacrifice fly on Opening Day as well, which was a run the old Tigers might not have tallied.
Speed is all over the place for this Tigers team. We haven’t even mentioned second baseman Ian Kinsler, who is 11-for-25 with seven RBI and a steal to begin the season. The depth of the lineup is incredible, but what differentiates this Tigers team from the previous ones is the offense’s ability to score in multiple ways. The days of waiting for the three-run bomb are gone.
Make no mistake, Detroit is on fire, and it is not just due to power. Because as Davis said, “Speed kills.”