How Jim Leyland is hurting the Tigers

August, 18, 2011
Wednesday night's Tigers lineup, including each player's on-base percentage.

Andy Dirks, .301
Brennan Boesch, .346
Delmon Young, .309
Miguel Cabrera, .427
Victor Martinez, .375
Alex Avila, .391
Jhonny Peralta, .356

You can use whatever metric you prefer -- wOBA or true average or EqA. No matter how you slice it, Detroit's best hitters have been, in order: Cabrera, Avila, Peralta, Martinez, Boesch and then a big drop to Dirks and regular leadoff hitter Austin Jackson. So with several good lineup options, Jim Leyland has instead chosen to bat two players with poor on-base percentages in front of his best hitter. And he continues to bat his second- and third-best hitters sixth and seventh.

As we've mentioned before, batting order isn't that important; but it has some importance, even if it's just 10 runs over the course of a season. Guys lower in the batting order do receive fewer at-bats and that adds up over a season. Take last night: the Tigers lost 6-5, and Peralta received one fewer plate appearance than the inferior Dirks and Young. Would that one plate appearance have made a difference?

Look at where the Tigers rank in the AL in OBP by batting order position:

No. 1: 11th (.306)
No. 2: 10th (.318)
No. 3: 13th (.323)
No. 4: 1st (.426)
No. 5: 6th (.342)
No. 6: 1st (.350)
No. 7: 2nd (.326)
No. 8: 5th (.323)
No. 9: 11th (.278)

The Tigers continue to have some of the worst production in the league from the top three positions. Young, owner of a .323 career OBP, is not the solution. Jackson does not get on base enough to warrant batting leadoff on a playoff contender. Speed is nice, but getting on base is nicer.

David Schoenfield | email

SweetSpot blogger



You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?