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Detroit Tigers: Who Should Be the Lead-Off Batter?

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Aug 6, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers center fielder Anthony Gose (12) hits a single in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 6, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers center fielder Anthony Gose (12) hits a single in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Ian Kinsler? Cameron Maybin? Justin Upton? Anthony Gose? Jose Iglesias? Who will lead off the Detroit Tigers latest lineup?

Aug 26, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers right fielder J.D. Martinez (28) receives congratulations from designated hitter Victor Martinez (41) after he hit a two run home run in the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 26, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers right fielder J.D. Martinez (28) receives congratulations from designated hitter Victor Martinez (41) after he hit a two run home run in the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s pretty obvious who will fill the middle of the lineup, but the Detroit Tigers lead-off batter position is an unknown for fans right now. Everyone knows the middle of the lineup is set – with Miguel Cabrera batting third with J.D. Martinez and Victor Martinez in the fourth and fifth spots. The Martinez “brothers” will most likely rotate between the two spots depending on their performances throughout the season.

The bottom end of the lineup will include Nick Castellanos and James McCann, but the ninth hole is also an unknown. Will Iglesias fill it? Or one of the outfielders?

Who will lead off? There are arguments for and against several of the players filling the top spot. The ultimate decision will, of course, be up to Brad Ausmus, but I’d like to offer a suggestion or two (if he happens to be reading):

First of all, I’d like to suggest that Jose Iglesias not lead off. In the 2015 season, he filled the ninth spot and he rotated few a couple of others. But, he has succeeded in the ninth spot and provides a little more fear for pitchers after they have struggled through the Cabrera-Martinez² trio. Iglesias does have the swagger to fill the first hole, but not necessarily the drive or the tone-setting attitude to do it.

I would also like to suggest that Anthony Gose not fill the number one spot either. While Iglesias has the swagger that could fill the lead-off spot, Gose always seemed slightly on edge in the first inning. Gose does not have the on-base percentage needed to fill that role, either. His .321 OBP was not impressive and his 145 strikeouts were way too much for any lead-off batter. His speed was impressive, but that is not the only thing a lead-off batter needs.

Sep 1, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler (3) hits a 2 run home run against the Kansas City Royals in the seventh inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 1, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler (3) hits a 2 run home run against the Kansas City Royals in the seventh inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports /

Ian Kinsler has consistently filled the second spot in the lineup for two years with the Tigers. Last year, he had that multi-hit hitting streak that kept him in the top 10 for runs scored. He needs to be in the beginning of the lineup because he gets on base regularly. His OBP was .342 and his OPS was .770. Gose’s OPS was .688.

Kinsler’s numbers, speed, and veteran status makes him an excellent choice for leading off for the Tigers. As a team leader, he clearly has what it takes to set the tone of the game from the very first swing. This makes the second hole perfect for the platooning outfielders Gose or Maybin.

Next: Miguel Cabrera Needs to Save It for the Season

This leaves Justin Upton. The newest addition to the Tigers hit .251 and had a .790 OPS. He did strike out 159 times and he hit 26 home runs. Again, this is too many strikeouts for a spot in the top of the order. He can hit for power, which makes him a good fit for the six or seventh spot. If he hits sixth, he can clean up what the Martinez² do after Miggy.

So, Mr. Ausmus, here is my suggestion for the lineup:

1. Kinsler

2. Gose/Maybin

3. Cabrera

4/5. Martinez²

6. Upton

7. Castellanos

8. McCann

9. Iglesias

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