The Opening Day roster is mostly set. What will the Detroit Tigers Opening Day lineup look like?
We now finally know what 95% of the Detroit Tigers Opening Day roster looks like. Everyone who will likely be in the Opening Day lineup has made the team. There are still a few spots up for grabs, but they appear to all be in the bullpen. The position player group looks set. Now it's time to take a look at what the lineup could look like when they take on the Tampa Bay Rays on March 30.
The Tigers will be taking on Rays' lefty Shane McClanahan on Opening Day, so our projected lineup will reflect that. You can probably expect as many right-handed batters at A.J. Hinch can afford to put in there.
Without further ado, here's our projected Opening Day lineup for the Detroit Tigers.
1. Matt Vierling, LF
You might expect to see Riley Greene here, but A.J. Hinch said a couple weeks ago that the Tigers won't have a dedicated leadoff hitter this season. And with Vierling having a .307 career batting average against lefties, I have him leading off on Opening Day. Vierling also has some serious speed, so he could for a pretty nice leadoff hitter against southpaws.
2. Riley Greene, CF
Greene doesn't move down too far. He's still likely to be the best overall hitter on this team, so you want him getting as many ABs as possible. Plus, his good plate discipline should see him draw plenty of walks and get on base for the middle of the order.
3. Javier Baez, SS
Baez hit much better against lefties than righties last season, so this should be a good matchup for him. He'll also likely hit in the three-hole quite a bit this season.
4. Eric Haase, C
Haase has always crushed lefties, but he also rakes when he hits in the cleanup spot. He had a 1.158 OPS while hitting fourth in the lineup last season, more than 200 points above the next closest spot. For whatever reason, Haase loves to bat cleanup. Let's not mess up a good thing.
5. Spencer Torkelson, 1B
Tork hit in the middle of the order all spring. He also hit missiles for most of the spring. He looks pretty good. Keep him in the middle and see what happens.
6. Austin Meadows, RF
Meadows hits same-handed pitching pretty well, and this may seem a little low for him, but there are couple of things to note. He beat everything into the ground in spring training. He's still trying to find his swing after all the time he missed last season. He continues to have trouble lifting the ball. We'll see if that carries over into the regular season.
7. Miguel Cabrera, DH
I have a feeling Miggy will probably hit higher than this, but I don't think he should. I think six or seven is about right for him at this point in his career. You know he's going to start Opening Day for his last season.
8. Jonathan Schoop, 2B
Schoop has hit lefties slightly better throughout his career, but he had reverse splits last season—if you can even call them that. He hit .207 against righties and .186 against lefties. I've said it before, but he's on a short leash. If he hasn't figured out by the end of May, he'll likely be DFA'd.
9. Nick Maton, 3B
Maton will probably hit at the top of order against right-handed pitching just because of the platoon advantage. He also mashes fastball, and McClanahan's got a good one. Expect him to be sitting dead red.
The lineup will likely shift a bunch throughout the 2023 season. That's what A.J. Hinch does. But this is at least close to what you can expect on Thursday.