Is Tigers’ rotating lineup strategy actually working despite previous criticism?

Manager AJ Hinch likes to mix things up in Detroit

Detroit Tigers v Chicago White Sox
Detroit Tigers v Chicago White Sox / Nuccio DiNuzzo/GettyImages

When the Detroit Tigers released their Opening Day roster on Thursday, there were immediately a couple notable exceptions in Gio Urshela and Kerry Carpenter, one as a notable offseason signing and another as a key piece of the Tigers' young core.

But we know how AJ Hinch likes to operate well enough by now. He likes players that he can cycle in and out, between positions and in the lineup, and has made it clear that no one player should really be thought of as an everyday guy at multiple different positions. Not one of the first three lineups the Tigers put on the field for Opening Weekend looked exactly like the other, and Hinch wasn't shy about making substitutions in-game.

Going into the season, this strategy had its naysayers, especially when it cames to concerns about third base that date back to last season. However, now that the Tigers have three wins under their belt and players who can effectively come into games in a pinch — might the rotating cast of characters strategy actually be working out pretty well for Detroit?

Detroit Tigers' revolving door lineup strategy proved to be effective during opening series

Seven Tigers have appeared in all three games so far, and the best performers among them have been Mark Canha and Kerry Carpenter (who subbed in for Andy Ibáñez on Opening Day), with four hits, one double, and a home run each. However, the players with fewer at-bats have been coming in clutch. Ibáñez has two hits and two RBI (and the second was a game-winning, pinch-hit single), Carson Kelly has three hits and two RBI, and Jake Rogers has a hit and an RBI. Not a single Tiger walked away from Opening Weekend without a hit, and less than half were without an RBI.

Hinch has been confident in the completeness of his Tigers roster and especially his infielders' defensive versatility, despite some active pushback from fans. There are, however, reasons why the Tigers earned their best finish in the division last year, and that Hinch won a World Series with the Astros back in 2017 (trashcan banging aside). The Tigers, everyday players or not, just needed to step up and prove that Hinch and the front office's strategy was actually able to be executed.

Of course, there are still ways that this can all go sideways, but for now it's looking like the Tigers might be able to pull this thing off.

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