Thank goodness we are close enough to baseball to consider potential lineups. These are the kind of topics we should be discussing. So today is all about batting orders, thanks to a suggested topic from a loyal reader.
Holly and Kurt don’t share their answers to the following question until today. In doing so, it gives readers the best shot at gaining a wide range of perspectives. Will you get that today? We’ll see.
From Frankie R.:
While most of the smart managers are thinking about shaking up their lineups for more run production, Ausmus is considering putting Justin Upton in the #2 hole. Is this the best slot for him or should there be someone else?
By trading away Maybin, the Tigers not only lost their CFer, but their spark plug and the guy who got on base to the tune of a very nice .383. The only Tiger who had a better OBP? Miggy.
Some have suggested that moving Miggy into the #2 slot would take advantage of some of the new trends we’re seeing out there. Mike Trout has occasionally batted there – but then he is speedy and Miggy is not. It would create a station-to-station running game more often than not. Been there, done that.
JD Martinez has a good OBP but he’s slow and last year showed the experiment that put him the #2 slot failed miserably.
Speaking of slow, Nick Castellanos has never batted before Miggy but his stats show that the heart of the order, esp. #6, is where he excels.
That leaves Iggy, one of the few speedy players, as the only other candidate to bat after Ian. He tends to put the ball in play, less likely to get caught in a double play and doesn’t strike out easily but he also doesn’t take as many walks as he should. Historically, his best slots are #7 and #8 and his worst are #1 and #9 – where he currently hits for the Tigers. He did OK in the small sampling of games he played in the #2 slot.
Which brings us back to Upton – one of the faster Tigers, but that’s not saying much. Maybe hitting in front of the other 3 human speed bumps will allow him to be more successful in taking extra bases.
He gets a lot of walks in comparison with his teammates but alas, he is a human strikeout machine and near the top in SOs for MLB for the past 4 years. This factor is a key stumbling block because, of course, you want as many players on base before Miggy steps up to the plate.
But more alarming is that his stats show the #2 slot has been his weakest with a mere .238 OBP.
The bottom line is that the Tigers don’t have a solid replacement for Maybin in the batting order and the decision will unfortunately be made based upon the lack of options rather than who is best suited.
If Upton indeed slides into that slot, he has to do better than last year or be pulled and replaced by Iggy. Neither is a solid choice so we have to hope that Justin has figured out the AL, settled in and will perform better in 2017.
Last season as we entered spring training, Upton was just about a slam dunk to begin the season in the #2 hole, which he did. He seemed the perfect fit. Hitting in front of Cabrera would be good for a new talent looking to get off to a strong start in a new town.
But we all know what happened. Upton was a strikeout machine for much of the season, making his spot at #2 a disaster. We know how the season went, but we also know how it ended. Upton finished the season as one of the hottest hitters in baseball and actually reached the kind of stats we all hoped he would achieve. He just didn’t do it in the way that was most helpful to the team.
I have never been a firm believer in momentum carrying over from one season to another. But in this case, I expect Upton to get off to a much better start than last season. How could he not?
But at the same time, I no longer think he belongs at #2. This lineup needs a shakeup. We need to see some different looks starting with the much talked about split of Cabrera and VMart. I liked Upton to begin the season at #2 last season. But this season, I see Nick Castellanos taking off and deserving of an audition batting in front of Miggy.
As far as Upton goes, move him down to fifth behind JD Martinez – it’s a great spot for him unless his strikeouts come way down, at which point maybe you reconsider what you do with #2. But I don’t envision that happening. He can thrive in the #5 spot which is all part of the plan that includes moving VMart down in the lineup.
My hope is that Brad reads, because it’s all over the web. We all happen to be right on this one; he has to split up Miggy and VMart as part of a lineup shakeup.
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