One thing the Detroit Tigers haven’t had much of over the past few seasons is a solid base-running option on the bench, but that all changes in 2014 with the addition of Rajai Davis.
Last season, the Tigers’ offensive strategy didn’t include many substitutions, but under new head coach Brad Ausmus, that is likely to change. Under Jim Leyland the Tigers tended to leave guys like Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera in the lineup, but that had a lot to do with the fact that they didn’t have a good option to replace them with once they got on base.
This season should be much different. Davis is likely to platoon in left field with Andy Dirks, meaning he’ll be available often if the Tigers need to manufacture a run or two late in games. They can’t be afraid to remove some of their slower base runners this season if they want to keep tallying runs in the final few innings.
Davis is a base-stealing machine; and while he is unlikely to start many games for the Tigers in 2014, he’ll still find his way onto the lineup card as a substitute. Davis had one of his best seasons running the bases in 2013. He successfully stole 45 bases for the Toronto Blue Jays last season while being caught only six times.
He has stolen as many as 50 bases in a season, which is something the Tigers haven’t had in quite a while.
Davis showed his value on the base-paths in the Tigers’ first spring training outing, stealing two bases and scoring two runs against the Atlanta Braves. He has always had a knack for stealing third base and usually does so only when the time is right.
Davis likely won’t start often, but even when he doesn’t he can still have an impact. Speed on the base-paths has been the Tigers’ biggest area of improvement this season, and it should help them manufacture runs in a way they couldn’t last season.
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