Could lineup change for Colt Keith be exactly what the Tigers needed?

It's finally time to stop worrying about Colt Keith
Cleveland Guardians v Detroit Tigers
Cleveland Guardians v Detroit Tigers / Duane Burleson/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

Colt Keith's first month and some change in the majors didn't go as well as anyone hoped. By the end of April, he was still waiting on his first home run, had only batted in five runs, and his batting average had fallen to .154. The Tigers were still doing pretty well by then, with a .567 record that placed them third in the AL Central and hot on the heels of the Royals, so Keith's struggles amidst his team's successes made him stick out like a sore thumb and led to some calls for his demotion back to the minors.

However, Keith's been picking it up since the beginning of May. His OBP still isn't exactly ideal (.299), but his batting average has ascended to .250 and his wRC+ moved from an abysmal 11 in April to 131 in the months since.

His July has already been exceptional; he's on an eight-game hitting streak through July 10, with four home runs and eight RBI, and the surge may be owed to a lineup change. Until mid-June, Keith was hovering anywhere between fifth and seventh in the lineup, but given his offensive improvements, the Tigers moved him into the two-spot, where he's been hitting full-time since the start of his eight-game streak.

Tigers moving Colt Keith to second has already starting paying off for them

All told, Keith has started 15 games batting second in the order, and the numbers speak for themselves. He has a .361 average and 1.121 OPS, with five homers, 11 RBI, and 44 total bases. Compared to his splits at other places in the batting order (.200, .229, .217 at 5-7), moving him to second might be the key to unlocking the major leaguer the Tigers saw in him when they extended him.

The Tigers took their game against the Guardians on Wednesday, in part thanks to an RBI triple for Keith in the bottom of the first, his second of the season. He also scored a run on a Matt Vierling homer after getting himself to first on a walk.

Detroit's chances of making the postseason have dimmed to the point of near-impossibility this season, but if we're back to a "maybe next year" mentality, then Keith heating up and looking like he could be a massive contributor to this team next season alongside Riley Greene and (hopefully) Kerry Carpenter is a massive win for not only fans who want to have something to hinge their hopes upon, but also for the front office that decided to extend him.

feed