Detroit Tigers: Ideal Lineup 2018
With Spring Training in full swing it’s about the time we are going to start seeing all of the “Predicting the Detroit Tigers starting lineup” articles and blog posts. Instead of conforming to the societal norm and writing my own post about my prediction of what I think manage Ron Gardenhire will put down on the on his Opening Day lineup card, I’m going to go a different route. What’s this route you ask? Well, I’m going to put on my manager pants and create my ideal lineup that I would like to see Gardenhire and the Detroit Tigers trot out onto the field at Comerica Park at some point this season.
1. Mikie Mahtook – LF
2. Jose Iglesias – SS
3. Nicholas Castellanos – RF
4. Miguel Cabrera – 1B
5. Jeimer Candelario – 3B
6. James McCann – C
7. Victor Martinez – DH
8. Dixon Machado – 2B
9. JaCoby Jones – CF
Random Lineup from 2017 Manager Brad Ausmus…. (Aug 22, 2017 v NYY)
1. Ian Kinsler – 2B
2. Mikie Mahtook – CF
3. Justin Upton – LF
4. Miguel Cabrera – 1B
5. Nicholas Castellanos – 3B
6. Victor Martinez – DH
7. James McCann – C
8. Alex Presley – RF
9. Jose Iglesias – SS
As you can see I’ve made some changes in comparison to what we saw last season. So why did I do what I did? Let me tell you….
1. Mikie Mahtook in the leadoff slot, why? Well…this team is still without a true leadoff hitter and Mahtook reminds me most of Ian Kinsler; we all remember he filled that role pretty well during his tenure in Detroit. After slashing .276/.330/.457 in 2017 Mahtook has earned the starting Left Field position with the departure of Justin Upton. Mahtook will bring a decent amount of pop as well as a set of wheels to the plate landing him this position. I’m sure a lot of people will tell me that they think Leonys Martin should be slotted to leadoff in 2018, however, I will argue that JaCoby Jones beats Martin out for the Center Field job during spring training and this is why I have Mahtook at the top.
2. It’s time to move Jose Iglesias up in the lineup and give him more responsibility. As you can see I’ve decided to move Iggy from the bottom to the 2 hole in the lineup. Iglesias is a veteran player at this point in time. It’s time that he is brought near the top of the lineup to utilize his speed and table setting abilities before the Tigers get to their big bats in the lineup. Iggy brings the ability to slap the ball to the opposite field, while also being able to drop a bunt, and even leg out an infield dribbler. He will be able to help move a runner up late in a game setting up Casty or Miggy to drive in potential game tying/winning runs. I have a firm belief that Iglesias possesses a bat that has the potential to hit around .285 in fulltime play.
3. With the departure of J.D. Martinez and the trade of Justin Upton, Nicholas Castellanos has a higher responsibility on his shoulders this season. I think that in moving him up to the Number 3 slot will give him some protection batting ahead of Miguel Cabrera. Despite having a down year in 2017 Miggy will still be a feared bat in the Tigers lineup which will lend to pitchers being forced to throw to Castellanos to try to get him out rather than facing Miggy with runners on base. Nicholas should get the chance to come to the plate with runners on base on a regular basis. I see Casty driving in a career high RBI as well as knocking a career high out of the park.
4. Big bad Miguel Cabrera; who is under contract for six more years totaling $184 million until age 39, plus 2 option years each valued at $30 million, needs to have a bounce back season in 2018. Miggy will be a major veteran presence on this now rebuilding Detroit Tigers team and will need to play that way as well. In order for this lineup to be successful Cabrera will need to have an MVP caliber season at the plate. It only makes sense to keep Miggy hitting in the clean-up slot in 2018.
5. The Detroit Tigers definitely ended up on the winning side of the deal that brought Jeimer Candelario over from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Justin Wilson. Detroit was able to find their third baseman of the future, while shifting then third bagger Castellanos out to right field. Candelario batted a cool .330 in his 27 games with the Tigers last season, collecting 31 hits with some nice extra base pop and driving in 13 runs. Jeimer looks more than comfortable at the plate in the bigs; proving he has the ability to hit the ball to both gaps he should be a nice piece in the five hole. He will be able to clean up the bases if Casty and Miggy can’t get the job done, and he will be able to provide a nice amount of power in the middle of the lineup.
6. The 2018 season will be the breakout year for James “McCannon” McCann. Entering his fifth season in Detroit, McCann should be set to take and keep the starting catcher position. With the departure of Alex Avila and John Hicks also likely serving as a backup to both McCann and Miggy, James should have a good year. McCannon has proven he has some pop in his bat and that he knows how to handle a pitching staff, now it is time for him to bring the average up 10-20 points and solidify himself as an MLB catcher. With all reports stating that V-Mart has come into spring training healthy, the hope is that batting McCann ahead of Martinez teams will be forced to pitch to him, similar to that of Casty batting ahead of Miggy.
7. This is the point where I felt I was obligated to put the aging Victor Martinez into the starting lineup as the designated hitter, despite all of my inner feelings telling me to leave him out. With all reports coming out of spring training indicating that V-Mart is healthy, the hope in slotting him behind James McCann is done as a way to protect McCann and get him some better pitches. With that being said, Martinez is aging (39 years old) and is due $18 million in his final season with Detroit. My hope is that he will be able to use what little power is left in his bat to knock 15 out of the park and keep his strikeout rate low as he’s done throughout his career.
8. Dixon Machado should have a decent season in his first full year as the starting second baseman for the Tigers. He showed promise in his 73 games during the 2017 season hitting .259 while also collecting 10 base on balls. What Machado lacks in power he makes up in speed, he’s had three seasons of 25+ steals in the minors to go along with 3 other seasons with 15+ steals in his nine year career. I feel that putting him near the bottom of the order will alleviate some of the pressure put on young players to succeed.
9. Rounding out the 2018 lineup will be young gun JaCoby Jones out in center field. I have Jones making the starting lineup over Leonys Martin due to the fact that I believe he will have an explosive impact throughout spring training. Jones burst onto the scene with a couple of game winning RBIs when he first got called up to the bigs, but quickly fell off the radar after being hit in the face with a pitch. I think with less competition in the Tigers outfield ranks Jones will solidify himself as the future center fielder and the job will be his to lose.
With the lineup being presented, we all know that they are not the only nine position players on the active 25-man roster during the course of an MLB regular season. With that being said I would like to see the following five (5) players on the bench during the 2018 regular season.
1. Leonys Martini – OF
2. Mike Gerber – OF
3. John Hicks – IF/C
4. Christin Stewart – OF
5. Ronny Rodriguez – Utility
There it is in all its glory; my ideal Detroit Tigers lineup for the 2018 regular season! I would like to reiterate, I’ve decide to go away from the typical “Predicting the 2018 Detroit Tigers starting lineup” post and take it in a new direction. PLEASE remember this is what I, and likely myself alone, would like to see happen. This is NOT what I think manager Ron Gardenhire will trot out onto the field at Comerica Park on March 29th.