Baseball is back, and so are the Detroit Tigers. The team kicks off a slate of Spring Training games with an exhibition contest versus Florida Southern College, and the lineup has been released.
During Spring Training, fans everywhere read into every move made by their team from the fun of Yoenis Cespedes’s cars to the scary like Anibal Sanchez’s triceps inflammation which shut him down for the past week. Now, Detroit Tigers fans may actually have substantial news outside of batting practice and pitchers throwing off of mounds: an actual lineup.
- Ian Kinsler, 2B
- Justin Upton, LF
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B
- Victor Martinez, DH
- J.D. Martinez, RF
- Nick Castellanos, 3B
- Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
- Jose Iglesias , SS
- Anthony Gose, CF
The Tigers had a little bit of fun with their lineup too, listing Upton as “NEW GUY” and Saltalamacchia as “SLTMCCHIA” because they didn’t have his name on the clipboard to paste like most writers, that or he used his A limit and has to earn the first four A’s back.
Kidding aside, this lineup looks to be the one the Tigers will use on a daily basis. This was the best lineup for the Tigers in 2015, trading Upton for Cespedes and Alex Avila for SLTMCCHIA.
Very few managers are willing to go with the Sabermatrician’s dream and bat Miguel Cabrera second in the order, but the lineup the Tigers have compiled is strong.
Each spot in the batting order loses about 0.11 plate appearances per game or 18 at bats per season. Brad Ausmus needs to use this reasoning while compiling his lineups to maximize his lineup efficiently and get his five best hitters those 18 at bats over the season. It could be the difference in games throughout the season to not leave Upton, Cabrera, or one of the Martinezes on deck in the 9th inning.
Batting Upton second in the order also gives Upton the best protection of his career. While he was in Atlanta, Upton anchored a lineup that featured Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward and Evan Gattis while they were still emerging as stars.
Before he was traded to Boston, Yoenis Cespedes was the same type of threat in Oakland’s lineup. Once he came to Detroit, Cespedes flourished in the Tigers’ lineup with a career best .293/.323/.506 split. He continued on his career best year in New York as the centerpiece of the lineup, but his tear started in Detroit.
Another key to Cespedes’s success which should also benefit Upton is batting second in the lineup. Upton will be able to thrive on fastballs which should allow him to feast more while he is hot and get him out of his slumps faster.