Detroit Tigers: Predicting Team’s Opening Day Bench
Heading into 2017, the Detroit Tigers bench will look significantly.
Romine is an obvious lock to make the team given his defensive versatility.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s been hitting the cover off the ball, with a .347 batting average, a .592 slugging percentage and a .945 OPS in 49 Grapefruit League at-bats.
The super-sub has also added eight RBI, four doubles, two home runs, two stolen bases and a triple for the Tigers.
Saltalamacchia departed in free agency. The Tigers replaced him with old friend Alex Avila, who should bring a steady blend of walks and pop to the bench unit.
Aybar also moved on as a free agent. As of now, the most likely player to step in for the former Angel is Machado, who is hitting .276 this spring with a .617 OPS.
What is perhaps most encouraging about the young infielder is that he’s now seeing time at both third base and second base in addition to shortstop.
A potential long-term replacement for Jose Iglesias, Machado could potentially see more playing time this season as a key bench cog.
The last bench spot is perhaps the trickiest to predict.
It will likely come from the outfield, where the starting center field job is still up for grabs.
Should JaCoby Jones or Mikie Mahtook win the gig, expect Tyler Collins to make the bench as a reserve outfielder.
The 26-year-old is out of options, and the Tigers could potentially lose him to another team if he doesn’t make the Opening Day unit.
However, if Collins wins the center field competition, Mahtook seems the likely candidate to be on the team.
The former first-round pick has plenty of upside at the plate and is a quality defender.
In this hypothetical scenario, Detroit would be able to give Jones more consistent playing time at Triple-A Toledo.