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!
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!