Detroit Tigers: Constructing the Opening Day Lineup for 2021

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 15: Willi Castro #49 of the Detroit Tigers singles against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at Comerica Park on September 15, 2020, in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 15: Willi Castro #49 of the Detroit Tigers singles against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at Comerica Park on September 15, 2020, in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Batting Second: SS Willi Castro

For how much flack Al Avila has been getting all week about the lack of free-agent moves and his comments to the press, one move that can’t be given too much grief for was flipping Leonys Martin for Willi Castro, who made some waves upon his call up from the 60-man camp.

In his first game on August 12, he went 3-for-4 and drove in three. It was a sign of things to come and for his efforts, he got Baseball America’s Detroit Tigers Rookie of the Year for an impressive body of work in 36 games.

In 68 plate appearances batting second, he put up a slash line of .311/.358/.541 with an OPS of .899 as he would play shortstop in place of Niko Goodrum. The most impressive number that stands out was his XWOBA, which was .387. Even with the injury towards late September with right shoulder soreness, he finished the month hitting .362/.402/.564.

The switch-hitting Castro hit over .300 from both sides of the plate but had more power from the right side, hitting five home runs. Tigers fans can live with a high strikeout rate and low walks with a wRC+ of 151 with this production from the second spot in the lineup.

As Chris Brown pointed out, he is one of just ten players in 2020 with an average sprint speed of at least 28.2 ft/sec and a home run of 445 feet or longer. That list included names like Ronald Acuna Jr, Fernando Tatis Jr, and Mike Trout. You need speed at the top of the lineup and Castro definitely has that.  If he can make the adjustments that players need to make in their second year once teams get more film on him, the Tigers will have an All-Star caliber infielder.