Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus has decided to shake up a lineup that has been in a rut as of late. Justin Upton has been moved down to fifth, while J.D. Martinez will bat second.
Detroit Tigers baseball has generally been associated with great offenses. Miguel Cabrera has spearheaded a number of elite run-scoring units that have featured a number of prominent hitters from Magglio Ordonez and Gary Sheffield to Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez.
However the current incarnation of Detroit’s offense has struggled. Despite featuring the likes of Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, Justin Upton, J.D. Martinez and Victor Martinez, the team hasn’t been able to score much.
In terms of runs scored, the team is 18th in baseball entering play on Wednesday. Where team OBP is concerned, Detroit 21st. In other words, Ausmus’ club could be doing much, much better, especially considering how well Nick Castellanos and Jarrod Saltalamacchia have played.
The Tigers seem to be taking steps towards fixing that, thanks to the new lineup configuration that will be unveiled in Wednesday’s game.
Kinsler is still hitting leadoff, but it is after him where the changes start to take place. J.D. Martinez has been elevated to the second spot in the order, with Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez hitting third and fourth. Justin Upton moves down to the fifth place in the order. He’ll be followed by Nick Castellanos and Jose Iglesias. Rounding out the order is Bobby Wilson and Anthony Gose.
If this lineup works, we could see Saltalamacchia or James McCann hitting seventh, switching places with Iglesias.
One reason the lineup could be moved around is to work around Upton’s high strike out totals. The outfielder isn’t a free swinger in the mold of Adam Dunn or Mark Reynolds, so the numbers are a bit concerning. Upton currently leads the majors with 32 punch outs in just 81 plate appearances.
Strikeouts at the top of the order can kill rallies and momentum. Putting a less punch out-prone batter after Kinsler and ahead of Cabrera could pay dividends. J.D. Martinez has only two plate appearances in his career hitting second, but getting him more at-bats could lead to more production from the slugger.
Likewise, Upton could thrive with more RBI opportunities hitting behind Cabrera and Victor Martinez. In 94 career games batting fifth, the former first-overall pick is a .270 hitter with 62 runs scored, 50 walks, 42 RBI, 12 home runs, 12 doubles, six triples and six stolen bases. Of all the places he’s hit in the order, Upton’s on-base percentage when batting fifth (.368) is his best at any spot.
The Detroit Tigers new-look lineup will take the field against the Oakland Athletics at 7:10 PM ET.