Penciling In The Detroit Tigers’ 2014 Opening Day Lineup
One Conceivable Lineup Card For The Detroit Tigers On Opening Day Of 2014
The Detroit Tigers' 2014 Opening Day lineup is going to look considerably different than the one that manager Jim Leyland turned in on Opening Day of 2013. The names Prince Fielder and Jhonny Peralta will be nowhere to be found, and Omar Infante's name will be listed on the opposing Kansas City Royals' lineup card. Leyland will not be pacing around the dugout this year either. Instead, a young manager by the name of Brad Ausmus will be leading the charge for the new-look Tigers.
During the offseason, the Tigers also traded starting pitcher Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals for utility man Steve Lombardozzi, left-handed reliever Ian Krol and pitching prospect Robbie Ray. The organization allowed longtime utility man Ramon Santiago, backup catcher Brayan Pena and setup man turned closer Joaquin Benoit to depart via free agency as well.
Other new faces on the Tigers squad will include Ian Kinsler, who the Tigers acquired from the Texas Rangers after sending Fielder the other way, and their offseason free-agent signings such as reliever Joba Chamberlain, closer Joe Nathan and speedy reserve outfielder Rajai Davis. Davis, a right-handed hitter, is expected to platoon with Andy Dirks in left field and start against left-handed pitching. He will most likely not be playing on Opening Day as the Tigers will likely be facing a formidable righty in Big Game James Shields who is the Royals' No. 1 starter.
In spite of the fact that the Tigers have bid farewell to a couple of former All-Stars, they still have a very solid team and their new additions should help tremendously.The Tigers can be expected to compete for a World Series title, and Ausmus should have a blast filling out the lineup every day. Without further ado, here is one possible lineup card Ausmus could not only use on Opening Day of 2014 but on multiple occasions against right-handed pitching this coming season.
1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
Kinsler is simply the best leadoff option the Tigers have. Although Ausmus has yet to say so, he could very easily already have Kinsler slated to bat leadoff. However, he is most likely remaining open to the possibility of something happening in Spring Training that could cause him to change his mind, but the probability of Kinsler being the Tigers' leadoff hitter in 2014 should remain very high.
2. Andy Dirks, LF
The record shows that Dirks is a better hitter when he is batting in the top third of the order, and he could really thrive in the two-hole as he would be batting ahead of the thunderous bats that exist in the middle of the Tigers' order. Moreover, it would also be a good idea to have a left-handed bat following Kinsler.
3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Miguel Cabrera may have been a cleanup hitter prior to the arrival of Fielder, but after winning a Triple Crown and back-to-back MVP awards in the three-hole, Ausmus has made it clear that Cabrera is not going anywhere.
4. Victor Martinez, DH
Victor Martinez last protected Cabrera during the 2011 season, and he did a fine job as Cabrera hit .344 and won his first batting title. Martinez continued to get stronger as the 2013 season progressed and was red hot by the time the postseason arrived. He should be primed for a great season in 2014. Expect him to end the 2014 season with a batting average hovering around the .320 mark with 14-20 home runs and over 100 RBIs.
5. Torii Hunter, RF
Torii Hunter had an excellent season batting in the two-hole in 2013. However, with Peralta gone, Hunter is simply the best option the Tigers have for a five-hole hitter who can protect Martinez. Hunter should be more than capable of being a middle-of-the-order hitter once again.
6. Alex Avila, C
After two straight disappointing seasons, the question of whether or not Alex Avila can ever return to his 2011 form has been on everyone's mind this offseason. The answer to that question is yes. Avila should benefit greatly from the presence of Ausmus and new hitting coach Wally Joyner. Rumor has it that Avila has already reported to camp and is ready to get to work. A 2011-esque Avila would fit perfectly into the No. 6 spot of the Tigers' 2014 lineup.
7. Austin Jackson, CF
Austin Jackson caught fire after being dropped to the No. 8 spot for the final three games of the 2013 ALCS by going 6-for-9. Therefore, it would be a great idea to keep him in the bottom third of the lineup as he seems to put less pressure on himself when he is down there. The No. 7 spot may be perfect for Jackson. Although Jackson would be a solid candidate to bat sixth, placing Avila in the six-hole keeps the alternation between right-handed hitters and left-handed hitters going for the top six spots of the lineup.
8. Nick Castellanos, 3B
The No. 8 spot should be the perfect place for Tigers top prospect Nick Castellanos to get his feet wet in 2014. He will not have to put too much pressure on himself down there and will likely be more productive than many Tigers hitters who have batted in the bottom third of the lineup have been in recent history.
9. Jose Iglesias, SS
Jose Iglesias took most of his at-bats in the nine-hole last season, and he can be expected to stay there. According to RotoChamp, Iglesias is projected to hit .264 with six home runs and 50 RBIs next season which would be very solid year for a No. 9 man. Moreover, Iglesias is liable to save a large number of runs on defense, and anything he can do with the bat should be considered a bonus.
Starting Pitcher: Max Scherzer
Regardless of whether or not Justin Verlander is ready for Opening Day, the ball should go to the reigning AL Cy Young award winner in Max Scherzer. Scherzer had a 3-0 record against the Royals in 2013 with 28 strikeouts in 27 innings pitched. He is simply the best man for the job. Verlander has had the ball on Opening Day for six straight years, but it is time for him to move over and allow the now co-ace of the staff to take the hill on Opening Day.