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Before the season started, I predicted the bottom third of the Detroit Tigers lineup combined to hit .243 last season, and didn’t think they would improve much this season. So far, Brandon Inge, Jhonny Peralta and Alex Avila have combined to hit .244 with 17 RBI and 5 HR.
Those power numbers are a little better than I expected, but their overall performance is right about where I thought they would be. Surprisingly, Avila has managed to trail only Cabrera in OPS at .887.
The unexpected, or more damaging if not unexpected, trouble with the lineup has come from the 1, 2 and 5 holes. Austin Jackson, Will Rhymes and Victor Martinez (who is aparantly nursing a sore groin) have combined to hit just .211 with 35 ks. There is no way a team can compete with those numbers coming from the heart of its lineup.
For tonight’s game in Seattle, Ryan Raburn is getting the start at second base. One would think that putting a guy who hits a HR every 20 ABs at 2B would improve the lineup significantly. In some sense that is correct. There is certainly more power in Raburn’s bat than Rhymes’.
However, the drop off on defense is terrible. I don’t understand why Scott Sizemore isn’t getting a call to try his hand at second base this year. In a very small sample, Sizemore has an OPS of 1.027 at Toledo this season. He only has one more strike out than walks.
Since April 10th, Magglio Ordonez has played in 2 games. He is yet to play in consecutive days. Nobody has said his ankle is healthy. Why didn’t the team put him on the DL, and give him enough time to fully heal? It would have been an opportunity to call Sizemore up and give him some starts without using an option on Rhymes. It would have taken the decision making process over who to start in LF out of Leland’s hands. Brennan Boesch plays RF, Raburn LF.
Of course, I’m not a doctor. I don’t know how serious Ordonez’s ankle is. I just think the team would be better served with finding out what Sizemore has at the major league level a year after his ankle was surgically repaired.
I also saw on Twitter today that the Mets are unlikely to offer Jose Reyes the $100M contract it would take to keep him. I called for Reyes to be the Tigers’ top priority for the offseason in this article on April 5th, so of course I would like to get him early.
There was an article on DetNews.com today saying the Tigers have three legitimate pitching prospects who can’t all make it to the show. One or two of them in a package, if you can get Reyes to sign an extension makes this team much better.
Also notable is the fact that the Tigers starting pitching has been performing well. I honestly don’t expect them to keep it up. Apparently Justin Verlander is over his early season struggles, even though he sometimes throws the ball wherever he wants. However, can Phil Coke keep up his impressive performances? Can the Tigers average 1.1 wins per start by Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello? I think it’s obvious the Brad Penny experiment has failed. There’s just not enough left in that arm. It’s time to give somebody like Jacob Turner a chance to see what he can do against big league talent.
I wish I could be more positive about what the Tigers are going to be this year. I just can’t. I’m only still confident in my original prediction of a third place finish in the Central because the Twins and White Sox are both playing so poorly also. I don’t really think Either Cleveland or Kansas City will continue to outperform the field in the central, but wouldn’t be surprised if the Royals hang around in the race all year.