Detroit Tigers: Predicting the Opening Day Lineup

DETROIT, MI - JULY 19: JaCoby Jones of the Detroit Tigers swings and makes contact against the Toronto Blue Jays during a MLB game at Comerica Park on July 19, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. Toronto defeated Detroit 12-1. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - JULY 19: JaCoby Jones of the Detroit Tigers swings and makes contact against the Toronto Blue Jays during a MLB game at Comerica Park on July 19, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. Toronto defeated Detroit 12-1. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images) /
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While the roster is not quite set, the Detroit Tigers open the season in just a couple days. We take our best guess on how they will choose to open the season

After what has felt like eternity, it is difficult to believe we are as close as we are to real, actual, meaningful Detroit Tigers baseball being played. From the pandemic to protocols, the media mess that was the labor negotiations put a damper on any prospect of a season for a slice of quarantine; but now with the regular season knocking on the door, we can now begin to seriously examine the possibilities with players and roster construction.

Detroit opens the season in Cincinnati for an oddball National League start, but with the designated hitter now functional in both leagues, the adjustments and settlements that come with building an inter-league roster will now feel minimal. Detroit has announced they will trout out Matthew Boyd with the Reds countering with Sonny Gray.

The starters are set; but how does the lineup fare?

Perhaps Tuesday nights’ exhibition contest was a preview of the Opening Day order for manager Ron Gardenhire:

Who hits leadoff?

Goodrum’s underrated speed, as evidenced by his Baseball Savant numbers, along with his ability to take walks would align him well with a lead-off role. Miguel Cabrera has settled in as a number three hitter over the past several seasons; and with a platoon likely for left field, it would be logical to put Stewart in left against the right-handed Gray.

Where does JaCoby Jones hit?

Jones has had some experience in the lead-off spot himself, but someone with a bit better on-base ability might make more sense for the spot. Still, I would personally rather see Jones higher in the lineup considering his strong second half and solid offensive Summer Camp. Perhaps hit him second and move Schoop to fifth, adding some length to the lineup while also allowing the faster Jones to potentially score on a Cabrera or Cron extra base hit.

What about Victor Reyes?

Reyes is sure to get his fair share of repetitions throughout the season with his ability to play all three outfield positions, but manager Ron Gardenhire has also had the propensity to play match-ups. Considering that Victor Reyes is 2 for 2 against Sonny Gray and the only Detroit Tigers player with a home run against him, there is a good chance Gardenhire starts Reyes despite the tiny sample size.

NORTH PORT, FL – FEBRUARY 23: Victor Reyes #22 of the Detroit Tigers bats during the Spring Training game  (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
NORTH PORT, FL – FEBRUARY 23: Victor Reyes #22 of the Detroit Tigers bats during the Spring Training game  (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

All in all, the Detroit Tigers have some options and are sure to leverage that variety as the season progresses. I would certainly take some of my own advice listed above, but this is the way I see the lineup shaking out on Friday:

  1. Niko Goodrum, SS
  2. Jonathan Schoop, 2B
  3. Miguel Cabrera, DH
  4. CJ Cron, 1B
  5. Christin Stewart, LF
  6. Cameron Maybin, RF
  7. Jeimer Candelario, 3B
  8. Austin Romine, C
  9. JaCoby Jones, CF

What do you think the lineup will look like? Let me know on Twitter @MCB_jakeboes!