What could the Detroit Tigers Opening Day lineup look like if the season started today?
The Detroit Tigers may have solidifield their roster, and thus, their lineup for the 2023 season, though Scott Harris said the team may not de done. There could another move or two on the way, but it feels like the bulk of the team's roster is already set.
The lineup I will suggest today is far from set in stone. We all know A.J. Hinch likes to mix and match based on matchups and stuff like that, and I will do my best to reflect that here. But there's a strong chance this lineup is not what the actual lineup will be when the Tigers take the field at Tropicana Field against the Rays on March 30.
With that said, enough dilly-dallying. Here's what the the Detroit Tigers 2023 Opening Day lineup could look like.
1. Riley Greene, CF
This one is pretty easy. A.J. HInch has already gone one record saying he wants Greene to be the team's leadoff hitter for years to come, and it makes sense. He meets all the criteria of a modern-day leadoff hitter.
He gets on base, puts the ball in play, runs well, and he he can ambush you and put the ball in the seats to start the game. Hinch had George Springer leading off games for him while he was in Houston, and the hope is that Greene becomes a left-handed version of him, maybe even better.
2. Matt Vierling/Akil Baddoo, RF
This will be the first platoon on the list. Vierling would play against lefties, meaning he'll probably get the nod on Opening Day assuming the Rays choose Shane McClanahan as their Opening Day starter, and Baddoo will get the nod against righties.
This may seem a little high for Baddoo, and it get it. He was pretty bad last season, but I think the Tigers are going to bank on 2021 Baddoo making a comeback in 2023. If that indeed happens, that would be huge for this team.
Vierling has pretty big splits against lefties over righties, making this a viable platoon. It could be pretty fun having two athletic outfielders getting on base and wreaking havoc on the basepaths.
3. Javier Baez, SS
Yeah, I know. I don't love this either. But who would be a better option to hit in the three-hole for this team?
You might say Austin Meadows, but that would mean the Tigers would have three straight lefties at the top of the order, which could put them at a disadvantage late in games. Some might say Spencer Torkelson, but he's nowhere near ready to be near the top of the order. So Baez it is.
4. Austin Meadows, LF
Meadows could easily hit in the two-hole because of his on-base ability, but the power potential puts him in the cleanup spot for me. If he's able to take advantage of the new dimensions at Comerica Park and hit some homers, this could be great bounce-back year for him.
Even if he doesn't hit a ton of home runs, we saw in his brief playing time last year that he's still got some nice gap-to-gap power, which sets up for some extra-base hits. Meadows would make a great cleanup hitter if he stays healthy.
5. Spencer Torkelson, 1B
I struggled with where to put Tork, but I think putting him in the middle of the order and banking on some of the improvement he showed at the end of last year would be the best spot for him.
He's not afraid to draw a walk. He just needs to start crushing mistake pitches more often. If he does that, maybe he can live up to that No. 1 overall pick billing.
6. Eric Haase, C
I could actually see Haase batting higher than this, maybe even as high as cleanup. But the six-spot feels just right for him in my opinion.
It sure sounds like Haase will be the Opening Day starter behind the plate. He'll probably get some run in the outfield as well, just to get him some more at-bats, but Haase has earned the right to be the starting catcher at this point.
7. Miguel Cabrera/Kerry Carpenter, DH
Here's another platoon that I've talk about in the past. Miggy shouldn't play in more than 81 games this year, for both the team's and his sake. Platooning him with Kerry Carpenter at DH seems like a good compromise.
Carpenter could also get some time in the outfield to spell Austin Meadows or in the event Baddoo struggles again. They need to see if he's legit. His 100 or so ABs in 2022 were a pretty good start.
8. Nick Maton, 3B
As of right now, Maton seems like the most likely cadidate to start at third base on Opening Day. He can move around the diamond, and the Tigers have other in-house options such as Ryan Kreidler, but he seems like the best option at the moment.
9. Jonathan Schoop, 2B
Barring something unforseen, I still think Schoop starts the season as the starting second baseman, despite rumblings of a move to the hot corner. He could still move around, but he led the entire league in outs above average last year, so I really don't know why you would mess with that.
If he's going to stink it up at the plate, they should at least try to get some value of out of him. He was still a 1.5 WAR player last years despite being the worst qualified hitter in baseball. Here's hoping he bounces back offensively and keeps it up with the glove.