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How Jim Leyland is hurting the Tigers

8/18/2011

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.