5 Players Who Could Bat Second For Detroit Tigers In 2014
Five Tigers Who Could Bat In The Two Hole In 2014
The Detroit Tigers' new manager, Brad Ausmus, has essentially only made two commitments regarding next season’s lineup: Ian Kinsler will bat leadoff or second, and Miguel Cabrera will stay in the three-hole. Therefore, Tigers writers and fans far and wide have begun posting possible lineup cards all over the internet. Although there are some that have made sense, there have also been a few that have been outrageous enough to have Alex Avila batting fifth.
Regardless of what the rest of the lineup ends up looking like, whoever bats second for the Tigers is going to find himself in an incredibly enviable position as he will be batting in front of the best hitter in MLB in Cabrera. Torii Hunter put together a fantastic season batting in front of Cabrera last year, as did Andy Dirks in 2012.
Moreover, after the Tigers acquired Delmon Young from the Minnesota Twins in August of 2011, Jim Leyland immediately inserted him into the three-hole right ahead of Cabrera, who was batting cleanup back then, and Young homered in his very first at-bat. Young went on to finish the 2011 season incredibly strong, batting .274/.298/.458 with eight home runs and 32 RBIs in just 40 games with the Tigers. He also blasted another five homers for the Tigers in the 2011 postseason.
To put it simply, batting in front of Cabrera almost automatically makes a player better. Without further ado, here are five Tigers who could possibly bat second for Mr. Ausmus’ squad in 2014 and have the honor and privilege of batting in front of "Miggy the Machine."
5. Nick Castellanos
Nick Castellanos is by far and away the biggest long shot on this list, but batting in front of Cabrera may just give him the jolt he needs to get his career off to a good start. Castellanos should be able to handle the bat well enough to bat second as he was a career .303 hitter in the minor leagues. There was a stretch in 2006 when Leyland batted Craig Monroe second, and if Monroe could handle the two-hole, then "Nick the Kid" should be able to as well.
4. Victor Martinez
Victor Martinez certainly does not have the speed one typically associates with a no. 2 hitter, but he definitely handles the bat like one. Martinez's days of hitting 20-25 home runs may be behind him, but he is still good for 10-15 long balls and a batting average well over .300. He has a very low strikeout rate, and sprays the ball to all fields from both sides of the plate.
As it stands right now, many believe Martinez will be batting cleanup and protecting Cabrera, but it may actually be a mistake to place him there. He may take it upon himself to start swinging for more home runs to make up for the loss of Prince Fielder and consequently get out of his groove. Batting Martinez second may sound strange, but it is certainly an idea that should be given some consideration. Doing so, however, would also create the need to find another player capable of driving in 80 or more runs to place behind Cabrera.
3. Torii Hunter
Hunter had a marvelous season batting second in 2013 as he hit .304/.334/.465 with 17 home runs, 37 doubles and 84 RBIs. Moreover, it may also surprise some to learn that he actually set a new career-high in hits with 184 in just 144 games -- and all of this came in his age-37 season! It would make all of the sense in the world to keep him there in 2014 rather than try to fix something that is not broken. However, with the departure of Fielder, the addition of Kinsler and the need for another big bat in the middle of the lineup, Hunter is a candidate to move further down in the lineup and possibly bat fourth or fifth -- especially if Martinez bats second.
2. Andy Dirks
For whatever reason, the left-handed swinging Dirks is a much better hitter when he is batting in the top third of the lineup. He spent much of his terrific 2012 season batting second in front of Cabrera, and although he had a rather disappointing 2013 campaign with a .256 BA, he hit .311 in 106 at-bats in the leadoff spot and .272 in 81 at-bats in the no. 2 spot. Placing Dirks in the two-hole could also bring balance to the top half of the Tigers lineup as he could follow Kinsler, a righty, and have Cabrera batting behind him, with the switch- hitting Martinez staying in the no. 4 spot. Hunter, another right-handed bat, would be hitting fifth. Dirks most certainly deserves to be given serious consideration for one of the top two spots in the lineup.
1. Ian Kinsler
Kinsler is a favorite to bat leadoff in 2014 as a result of his .349 career OBP and the fact that he has never once struck out 100 times in a season, which stands in sharp contrast to Austin Jackson. However, batting Kinsler second and giving him the chance to bat in front of Cabrera may just give him the boost he needs to return to his 2011 numbers. Letting Dirks and Rajai Davis split the leadoff spot and having Kinsler bat second would be a fantastic idea.