Kurt Bio PictureBy:  Kurt Snyder

Up until the last few seasons, you could be assured that one spot in every MLB lineup was a certainty. The #3 spot in the order was typically where your team’s best hitter would be positioned. In Snyder’s world of baseball, it is where your best hitter belongs. You have your speediest table-setters at the top of the lineup followed by your best hitter.

But baseball doesn’t stop. It moves on. And the newest trend is to move your best hitter to #2 where he could potentially get an extra at-bat. But the dynamic of each team is different. It’s not always about the bat, it’s the whole package.

If your best hitter can count speed as one of his strongest assets, have at it. The number 2 spot is his. But in the Tigers case, why would you consider putting your second slowest runner in the number 2 spot? You wouldn’t and they won’t.

But baseball has seen different philosophies and strategies emerge of late. Look at the lineups of a couple playoff teams from last season, specifically at the leadoff position.

In Cleveland, the Indians often penciled in Carlos Santana as their leadoff hitter. Santana, a hitter more suited for the middle of the lineup with his ability to hit the ball out of the park, was an example of their shrewd manager changing things up when Rajai Davis wasn’t in the lineup.

In Toronto, they often did the same, kicking things off with Jose Bautista, another power hitter in the leadoff spot. So the overall philosophy of a lineup has definitely taken a turn over the years and figures to continue to evolve.

In Detroit, as the Tigers move on with much the same lineup as 2016, they have some decisions to make with a team now devoid of Cam Maybin. The team, even more now, will struggle with speed (and strikeouts, of course).

The Miguel Cabrera-Victor Martinez duo, on paper, is a lethal combination. They are the team’s two best hitters. But time has slowed them down to the point where together; they are anchors on the basepaths.

Long innings become less likely with these 2 on base at the same time. The Tigers need more outs if they are going to get both of these piano-carrying, cement shoe-wearing superstars across the plate. And the last time I checked, 3 outs are still all they get.

So let’s open our minds on this lineup. The top and the bottom stay the same. Without Maybin, Kinsler has no rival at the lead off position. Done deal at leadoff.

At the bottom of the lineup, it makes sense to keep Jose Iglesias in that spot. It’s an advantage to have a player with speed and one who rarely strikes out, hitting in a spot that turns it back over to the top of the lineup. Done deal at #9.   When Kinsler needs rest, Iggy is your lead off guy.

JD is your new cleanup hitter batting behind Miggy, while VMart moves down in the order. Way down. Like way down to #7. His baserunning liabilities make this move a necessity. And this will make it difficult on the opposing pitcher when they get down to the last third of the lineup and up walks Victor.

It makes sense and I would make the change. It splits up your two turtles and adds a switch hitting offensive spike to the bottom third. Who puts their second best hitter in the bottom third? Well, the Tigers do, if I’m in charge.

So we are getting there, folks. Who’s your #5 hitter behind JD? Well, remember last season, when Justin Upton began the season batting in the 2 hole? I liked that move until he began striking out at a rate where he just couldn’t afford to stay in that spot. Until he proves otherwise, JUp sits at #5 all day long.

We now round third and head for home. Drop James McCann into the #6 spot. He is a better hitter than he showed last season. Bouncing back should be expected and I like him batting in front of Victor, with an opportunity to get better pitches, even at #6 in the lineup.

The #8 spot goes to the centerfielder of your choice. My choice is Jacoby Jones; but I am willing to let Spring Training decide.

So who’s my winner at #2? Well there is only one guy left. Nick Castellanos feels real good hitting in that spot in front of Miggy. Real good. Speedy will never be used in the same sentence as Nick (except for this one), but this makes the most sense for a 2017 lineup where big things may await Nick.

So have a look!

1- Kinsler
2 – Castellanos
3 – Cabrera
4 – JD Martinez
5 – Upton
6 – McCann
7 – VMart
8 – Centerfielder
9 – Iglesias

I can honestly tell you, I am quite proud of this lineup. It’s innovative. It’s forward thinking. And it has no chance to see the light of day. The key behind this lineup is the large split between Cabrera and VMart, and Brad will never open his mind enough to make that change. Why? 2 reasons. Innovation and forward thinking.

But I had fun!

13 thoughts on “OLD BAND NEEDS NEW LOOK

  1. Agree all the way Miggy&VMart need to be separated in the lineup, key will be the # 2 spot where I still see Miggy even if not fast but smart enough and offers him more at bats. Considering Nick there would be ok if he can improve his OBP which has increased from 278 in 2013 up to 331 in 2016. That gives some hopes.


  2. That line-up looks good to me, except that I see TWO, instead of ONE, clogs on the base paths. Just about the time you get Miggy cleared out of the way so you can start running again, you plug Victor into the mix to clog the bases again. On the other hand, in those situations, you probably already have scored a bunch of runs.


  3. Regardless how they are stacked they do not have playoff caliber base path skill. Who of any will steal a base? Centerfield? Iggy? After those two and where they are positioned it’s, DEATH. I see double plays abound. But lots of potential long ball. Feast and famine run production again in 2007. Pressure on Pen. Get ready.


  4. In a perfect world, or the “old” world of Mike I, a good-hitting CF would bat 1st or 2nd, moving Nick to 6th and McCann to 8th. But you are right. Vmart will follow Miggy all season due to the manager’s brilliance.


  5. Look on the bright side readers, good ol’ Kirk Gibson will work with the hitters with base running and base stealing instruction again in ST.


  6. Only issue, Kurt, is that places the 3 Tiger base runners that give away the most outs with bad decisions are at the top of the order. While there may not be many options, Nick at #2 doesn’t seem a good one at this point.


  7. There is no hope of exploring new ideas or becoming creative thinkers when Brad & his brain trust are so enamored with old school rules & traditions. Until they adapt to strategies outside that framework the “turtle” blockade will continue.


  8. I am stuck in my Little League days where the big guy hit cleanup. Thus – Kinsler, Iggy, JD, Miggy, Nick, Upton, McCann, ?, ?. I would trade Victor yesterday.


  9. liked the lineup (although still lacking on speed) however don’t see Brad Asmaus and the word innovation ever used in the same sentence it’s a contradiction of terms


  10. Brad should realize that a strategic lineup can translate into several victories per year. I read that the weakest batter should bat seventh. I can also recall Billy Martin occasionally drew names out of a hat to determine the batting order because the existing one wasn’t working. The Tigers won every time!


    • Mr. “I don’t look at standings in September” Ausmus, does not worry about a several more wins. Why should he. He can close the season 8 games out of the division lead, miss the wild card and get kudos as the “perfect” coach from his boss Al Avila. Why worry?

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not sure about that. I’ve read a couple of articles…Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus…indicating it makes a difference of maybe one or two games a year.


  11. What a great and refreshing article with perfect timing Kurt. After a weekend full of President bashing, HOFselection improprieties, mid winter Tiger Sugar Smacks, finally an honest to goodness “baseball” strategy blog. Batting order. Imagine that!


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