By: Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning
It’s been a much talked about topic since spring training. The Tiger lineup. The JD Martinez injury. And the question about whether VMart should stay in the cleanup spot when all things come together.
But with JD back in the fold, nothing has changed. So, of course, we have a question to address.
As is the norm, Kurt and Holly have not shared their answers to the following question; the best way for our readers to get the best bang for their buck. So here we go.
Do you support Brad Ausmus’ explanation of why he will continue to slot VMart into the #4 hole in the lineup?
Brad has proven us all right once again. Out-of-the-box thinking is just not part of his DNA.
I do understand where he is coming from to a point, before the argument gets weak and falls off a cliff. I guess (and I am really trying hard here) I am glad to see he has not only thought about why to keep things the way they are, but stands behind it unwaveringly. I just don’t happen to agree with it.
Right smack in the middle of his justification for the status quo is a complete lack of confidence in his middle of the order power hitters and their ability to give Miggy the protection he feels he has with VMart.
These are accomplished hitters who are in the lineup every day. Left-handed or right-handed, pitchers have quite the challenge whether Victor hits 4th or 6th.
With his power numbers down, I can assure you, Victor is far less menacing batting behind Miggy now that the ball is staying in the park.
How many teams in baseball have a cleanup hitter with one home run? With JD back and already hitting homers, this is Brad’s opportunity. And it’s not just about the power. JD has demonstrated his ability to hit .300. You would be replacing a player who hits .300 with, well, a player who hits .300.
And Justin Upton? Well, with him hitting so much better and displaying an early power surge, moving him to 5th gives the Tigers more speed behind Miggy with the guys with the most power (outside of Cabrera).
JD and his ability to hit the ball the other way, in the gaps and out of the park, will do just fine protecting Cabrera.
Victor moving down and batting #6 moves a pretty gifted hitter behind Justin Upton, lengthening the lineup in the most intelligent way possible.
Brad may have his reasons for why Victor should bat cleanup. But they just don’t carry much weight any longer.
There is nothing more infuriating than being stuck behind the slowest car on the highway – and in the left lane. You can see it’s a nice car and capable of doing fine things, but it’s the driver holding everyone back. And other cars, much faster, are piling up in back of it and unable to reach their destinations efficiently.
That car, of course, is Victor Martinez with Brad Ausmus as the chauffeur and caught behind them are Justin Upton and JD Martinez, to name a few. And station-to-station baserunning continues to be alive and well even after the horrific experience of watching the 2013 playoffs with Prince Fielder serving as VMart’s doppelganger.
Sure, Brad has a point about inserting a LHB into yet another RHB-heavy lineup. But there’s not much to protect at the moment given Miggy’s extended slump. But he tries to prove his point using the later innings as his example when the opponent will determine which relievers to send in. Once again, he’s planning the game out in advance – putting the focus on the final destination instead of the journey and how to get there successfully.
In the last 2 of 3 games, VMart was left on second base, unable to score. And in 3 games in which the Tigers scored a whopping 5 runs total and lost 2 of the 3. Let’s face it; Victor is officially the slowest runner in baseball which now requires herculean efforts by his teammates to get him home safely.
And that is exactly the point. Upton, JD and et al now have more pressure placed upon them to not just hit, but to get extra-base hits because that is the only way Victor will be able to score. Even doubles are risky if VMart is on second base. Why have hitters of this great caliber if you aren’t going to maximize their potential and get the desired results? Put any other runner on second base and a single will much more likely score them.
Isn’t it a better rationale for Victor to sit lower in the order so he’s the one responsible for advancing more runners – instead of other hitters trying to advance him? This is an issue that not just fans are questioning, but many of the former players, managers and GMs in the national media are adamant about the changes needed.
But there may be something else going on – an issue I’ll continue to address in Wednesday’s blog.