Detroit Tigers may switch-up lineup with hopes of helping veteran shortstop

As the 2024 season draws near, talk of the regular season lineup is starting to show. Detroit Tigers shortstop Javier Báez may find himself in the bottom third of the order.

Detroit Tigers shortstop Javier Baez walks off the field after practice during spring training in Lakeland, Fla.
Detroit Tigers shortstop Javier Baez walks off the field after practice during spring training in Lakeland, Fla. / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Detroit Tigers are getting down to business as the start of the season is just ten days away. One of the things that still plagues Spring Training is a tough stretch of games for Javier Báez. The team's veteran shortstop has had a really rough spring with the Tigers.

While there's not always room to put a ton of stock in Spring Training stats, it's a double-edged sword. The Detroit Tigers are paying Báez for the next four seasons, regardless of the outcome -- so continued hate is futile in the long run. However, seeing the player they're paying $23+ million a year muster a 3-for-32 line this spring.

Báez's struggles are problematic, whether the hate is welcomed or not. However, Tigers manager A.J. Hinch seems to think that there's a way for him to snap out of this funk. After all, the slate is wiped clean when the regular season starts. It will give him a clean slate of stats and a fresh start.

However, Hinch seems to think that Báez's spot in the lineup could play a big role in his offensive output. Detroit needs him to get it together, and taking some pressure off could help him start to find a groove and figure things out in the batters' box.

Detroit Tigers may sink Javier Báez in lineup come regular season.

Hinch noted that he wants to try and get Báez into the bottom third of the lineup. If Báez can hit in the bottom third, he might be able to get himself together and produce offensively, something he's slacked at in his time with the Tigers organization. After all, he's in the "best shape of his life" and put in a ton of hard work this off-season, so he might as well start playing like it.

In an article from 97.1 The Ticket on Audacy detailing an appearance from Hinch, it's pretty clear that Báez is going to bat in the bottom third, and Hinch hopes that, at minimum, he keeps playing smoothly in the field. On top of that, Hinch talks about how Báez gets a lot of attention and criticism, especially with his offensive output.

The .094/.114/.208 slash this spring is concerning. Sure, he's under more of a microscope than others—I'll admit that—but he's been horrible. If it means that he needs to hit seventh or eighth in the lineup, so be it, but something has to change. Báez hitting in the bottom of the lineup may not be the worst thing in the world.

Time will tell, and Hinch seems to be more optimistic than he sounded earlier this spring. It's another Báez article, but with some more info on how the Tigers will try and get him back to a higher level of performance, it seemed warranted.