Detroit Tigers Opening Day: Previewing the lineup

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 9: Miguel Cabrera #24 of the Detroit Tigers is congratulated by Nick Castellanos #9 after hitting a two-run home run in the first inning during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on September 9, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 9: Miguel Cabrera #24 of the Detroit Tigers is congratulated by Nick Castellanos #9 after hitting a two-run home run in the first inning during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on September 9, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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Detroit Tigers fans will have to wait one extra day for baseball to be back. To help you pass the time, here’s a look at the projected starting lineup.

Detroit Tigers baseball is back, almost! With an Opening Day rain-out, fans will have to wait one extra day to see their Tigers take the field in 2018. With an extra day to anticipate the start of baseball season, we decided to take a look at the projected Opening Day batting order.

Below is tomorrow’s likely starting lineup for the Detroit Tigers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates.

Leading Off: Leonys Martin (CF)

The first at-bat for the Tigers in 2017 will likely go to veteran CFer Leonys Martin. Martin his .316 this spring with three home runs and four stolen bases. While he has never been a strong hitter, he boasts excellent defense in center field and above average speed.

For his career, Martin is a .255 hitter with a 78 wRC+ in the leadoff spot. His 505 at-bats hitting first are the most of his career, so expect to see him atop the order more often than not this season.

Batting Second: Jeimer Candelario (3B)

It was unclear at the onset of spring training who was going to hit second for this team, but it appears third baseman Jeimer Candelario has emerged as the favorite. He posted a stellar .394 on-base percentage during spring, walking 11 times compared to only seven strikeouts. That type of table-setting mentality, along with his switch-hitting ability, will make him a more than capable two-hole hitter.

Although the sample sizes are very small, Candelario has found most of his success as a two-hitter in the show. He boasts a .385 average and a 204 wRC+ in his 26 at-bats hitting second. Look for the Candy Man to stay in the two-hole as long as he is swinging well.

Batting Third: Miguel Cabrera (1B)

Miggy showed glimpses of being back to his old self with a very strong spring. He hit .368 with three home runs and generally looked like the superstar we all know and love. Cabrera will be the number three hitter, a spot he has occupied over 1,192 big league games. He’s hit .316 with a 152 wRC+ at that spot in his career.

Batting Clean-Up: Nicholas Castellanos (RF)

Castellanos had the best season of his young career last year, and is ready to take center stage as Detroit’s new star slugger. Hitting fourth will be somewhat unfamiliar for the right fielder, who has only seen 145 at-bats hitting cleanup. However, he has posted a .331 batting average and a 154 wRC+ in that spot, and will be sandwiched between future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. If both veterans rebound to post solid seasons, Castellanos should do an excellent job both scoring runs and driving people in.

There may not be as much to watch for as their used to be in the Motor City, but Castellanos is as good a reason as any to check in this year.

Batting Fifth: Victor Martinez (DH)

Martinez has spent most of his time in the Motor City hitting fourth, but will drop down to the number five spot to allow Castellanos to hit clean-up. No matter for V-Mart, who has a .315 average a 125 wRC+ in 495 career games hitting fifth.

A resurgence for V-Mart would be a huge boost for a team that is relying heavily on unproven big league talent to get them through the season.

Batting Sixth: James McCann (C)

James McCann has spent the majority of his career hitting seventh or eighth, but looks like he will get a small bump into the six-hole for the Tigers. He is a .178 hitter in the six-spot, although that is only accounting for 135 at-bats. Still, if McCann struggles in that spot he could easily be swapped for Mikie Mahtook, who is slotted to hit seventh.

Batting Seventh: Mikie Mahtook (LF)

Mahtook is a career .278 hitter with a 105 wRC+ in the seventh spot in the lineup. He has some experience batting second as well, so if Candelario struggles don’t be surprised to see him and Mahtook flip-flop. After an incredibly ugly spring (.161 average) Mahtook is on thin ice for a starting role. JaCoby Jones and Victor Reyes both made the 25-man roster, and each will challenge him for at-bats in left field this year.

Batting Eighth: Jose Iglesias (SS)

Not surprisingly, the slick-fielding, light-hitting Iglesias has spent the majority of his career hitting out of the nine-hole. However, he will cede that spot to Dixon Machado and bump up to the eight spot this year. Iggy is a .278 career hitter batting eighth, so perhaps his bat will show a little more life with a slight bump in the order.

Batting Ninth: Dixon Machado (2B)

Machado hit .291 in the nine spot last year, a spot he is likely going to occupy for the majority of his big league career. A light-hitting middle infielder, Machado impressed with the bat in spring training. He hit .308 with a pair of doubles and a home run. Tigers fans shouldn’t expect much power from the young infielder, but approaching .300 with the stick would be a nice boost for the rebuilding team.

Next: Staff Predictions for 2018

This is the projected lineup for tomorrow’s game against the Pirates. Detroit Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire will be tinkering with this lineup throughout the season, as bench bats like JaCoby Jones, Victor Reyes, Niko Goodrum and John Hicks are sure to draw some starts.

Additionally, there are plenty of minor league hitters who are sure to get some starts this season as the Detroit Tigers look ahead to the future.