Here’s our first draft of what the projected Detroit Tigers 2021 Opening Day lineup will look like.
After the winter meetings and the comments made by Al Avila last week, we have a general idea of what the Detroit Tigers lineup may look like on Opening Day. While the corner outfield, catcher, and first base (or third) are yet to be determined, with this whole concept that we will be doing throughout the off-season, this first attempt at lineup construction is to look within and an educated guess on a name to bring in.
The idea came from our friends over at Reviewing the Brew but I decided to take a different route and decided instead of the “Perfect Lineup”, I just decided to go with Opening Day and if the Tigers do make moves, the lineup will change.
Where to start? Well, Avila spoke about the versatility of Jeimer Candelario so I took that into consideration and what A.J. Hinch said about addressing the need behind the plate. So with all subtext, let’s begin.
Batting First: LF Victor Reyes
In 35 games in 2020, we saw Victor Reyes batting leadoff quite a bit. Now it is strange to think that a player with a walk rate just under 4% would be the hitter leading off but turned out to work out ok for the Tigers as he produced a slash line of .277/.313/.372 (38-for-137) with an OPS of .685. He was much more aggressive at the first pitch, swinging at a 21.6% clip, up from 2019 so that could have been a factor.
Reyes showed improvement from his 2019 numbers in exit velocity, (up 2.4) hard-hit contact (up 9.8%) and his XWOBA (expected weighted on-base average) actually climbed towards near what is considered “average”. (.321 was the league average in 2020)
Reyes can hit fastballs and the big concern heading into 2020 was breaking pitches and how he could handle offspeed offerings. While he needs to hit better against curveballs ( he hit .118 with a run value of -5 according to Baseball Savant), he showed greater improvement against sliders, batting .321 and improving his run value from -4 to -1. So, who bats second?