Three days ago, I wrote an article in which I made the argument that Ian Kinsler is a better leadoff option for the Detroit Tigers than Austin Jackson, primarily because of the fact that he has performed so much better in the leadoff spot than the two-hole this season. Kinsler also strikes out far less than Jackson does.
I still believe that Kinsler is a better leadoff hitter than Jackson, but the chances of him moving back to the leadoff spot are looking unlikely at the moment. Jackson has remained red-hot batting first, currently batting a cool .345 with a robust .912 OPS in 87 at-bats up there. He has not enjoyed this level of success anywhere else in the lineup throughout the entire season.
Although Jackson got off to a nice start to his 2014 campaign, his bat went into hibernation once the calender turned to May. Moving him back to the leadoff spot, where he was a fixture from 2010-13, was apparently what it took to wake him up again.
Kinsler, on the other hand, remains mired in a bit of a slump. He is batting a mere .176 (6-for-34) since the All-Star break, and his slash line in the two-hole is just .263/.296/.410, compared to a significantly better .332/.363/.500 in the leadoff spot. His power numbers are comparable, however, hitting six home runs with 26 RBIs batting first and five home runs with 29 RBIs in the two-hole.
Kinsler’s lesser numbers in the two-hole are nearly inexplicable, as one would think that he would do nothing but thrive hitting ahead of Miguel Cabrera, but that has not exactly been the case. For whatever reason, it seems that he has been more comfortable in the leadoff spot, where he has a much higher batting average and gets on base at a higher clip.
If Kinsler can figure out how to adjust to the No. 2 spot and hit there like he has in the leadoff spot, though, it would make the top half of the Tigers’ lineup incredibly formidable. If Jackson can continue swinging a hot bat in the leadoff spot and Kinsler could step it up in the two-hole, everyone knows that Cabrera, Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez are the guys who follow. That could give more than a few opposing pitchers goosebumps.