After two stellar performances for Jeimer Candelario in the leadoff spot earlier during the 2019 season, Ron Gardenhire decided to give the third baseman another shot at the top of the lineup, starting him in that position for all four games of the Detroit Tigers recent series against the Boston Red Sox.
Candelario’s previous appearances in the number-one spot for the Detroit Tigers occurred against the Toronto Blue Jays in the opening series and the Twins on Mar. 14. The 25-year-old went 5-for-6 with two RBI north of the border, and 2-for-4 with a run scored for the Tigers in the Twin Cities.
Similar success would find Candelario during the past series in Boston, as the former Chicago Cub hit .294 with five runs scored and one RBI over the four-game set. This hot streak continued a run of success for Candelario, as he’s hitting .284 over the past seven games.
The lineup switch pushed former leadoff man Josh Harrison to the seventh spot in the Tigers batting order, and like Candelario in his new spot, the second baseman Harrison also saw improvement in the reshuffled lineup.
Harrison went 5-for-12 in three games against the Red Sox while in the seventh spot in the order. The 31-year-old was used in a variety of different spots in the batting order during his Pittsburgh Pirates tenure, so the move from the top of the lineup to the bottom three proved to be no challenge for the veteran Harrison.
Candelario is now hitting a cool .333 (8-for-24) in the leadoff spot this season, while his numbers batting fourth and fifth continue to lag, highlighted by a .149 batting average in those spots. He also hit .189 while batting fourth and fifth in 2018.
Given that Gardenhire slotted Candelario in the leadoff spot for all four games, and against two left-handed starting pitchers and two righties, the skipper could look to use him as his go-to leadoff man moving forward.
The success for Candelario is solely approach-based, as he has proven to be much more impactful while trying to do less at the plate, serving in a table-setting role. When Candelario was relied upon to be a run-producer, he simply tried to do too much.
Candelario is penciled in to hit leadoff once again against Chicago White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon, his fifth straight start in that spot.