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1 DETROIT TIGERS

March 26, 2012
March 26, 2012

Table of Contents
March 26, 2012

GOLF PLUS
Sports Illustrated DIGITAL
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2012 NCAA TOURNAMENT SWEET SIXTEEN
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1 DETROIT TIGERS

ENEMY LINES

This is an article from the March 26, 2012 issue

A rival scout sizes up the Tigers

They've got so many good offensive players, they can't all go in a slump together. You better be on your game when you pitch against those birds.... Miguel Cabrera has looked fine at third. He's made all the plays, even coming in on the ball. He looks slimmer. And the ball still jumps off his bat. That's a linebacker up there hitting.... Prince Fielder's bat speed looks good this spring. He's hitting balls on the screws—pulling the ball a lot, but he'll straighten that out.... Brandon Inge is doing well at second base, turning double plays and getting to balls up the middle. With the lineup they've got—power throughout—he's just another guy who's a home run threat.... Brennan Boesch does not miss a fastball—and where he is in the lineup [ahead of Cabrera and Fielder], he's going to get a load of fastballs. He's a strong cat with power everywhere.... . In my eyes it's tough to call Austin Jackson a leadoff hitter, but he's there by default. He does play good defense side to side in center.... Ryan Raburn's a valuable guy. He can play anywhere, from centerfield to the infield, and he can hit fastballs with some sock.... Justin Verlander was on cruise control early in the spring, but when he needed the big stuff, he went back and got it.... Doug Fister is a command-and-control guy who sinks the ball well. He's 89-to-91 mph and might touch 92. His numbers in Detroit last year were insane. I don't know if anybody can repeat that.

THE LINEUP

With 2011 Statistics

MANAGER JIM LEYLAND

7th season with Tigers

View this article in the original magazine

ROTATIONWLERAWHIP
RHJUSTIN VERLANDER2452.400.92
RHMAX SCHERZER1594.431.35
RHDOUG FISTER11132.831.06
RHRICK PORCELLO1494.751.41
LHANDREW OLIVER (R)*8124.711.56
BULLPENWSVERAWHIP
RHJOSE VALVERDE2492.241.19
RHJOAQUIN BENOIT422.951.05

NEW ACQUISITION (R) ROOKIE *AAA STATS

PROJECTED PAYROLL

$131.3 million

THE NUMBER

97

Opportunities Miguel Cabrera had to take an extra base as a runner last season, most in the majors. However, Cabrera seized the chance just 39.2% of the time. It may not matter this year: With Prince Fielder hitting behind him, Cabrera should trot home more often.

MODEST PROPOSAL

The plan for the Tigers is to hit their two big bats, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, third and fourth, with Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch atop the lineup. This is the way lineups have been constructed for 120 years—and it's wrong. It works when you have players who can set the table for your big boppers; Jackson (.331 career OBP) and Boesch (.330) are not those players. Since he lacks high-OBP hitters for the number 1 and number 2 slots, Jim Leyland should try something radical—and sabermetrically sound—and bat Cabrera second and Fielder third, with Jackson and Boesch platooning in the leadoff slot. Studies have shown that a team's best hitter should bat second, providing the best mix of maximizing that player's plate appearances, his chance of hitting with a runner on base and the value of his own times on base. By moving his two best hitters up in the order, Leyland would give them each an additional 18 plate appearances a year. As good as Cabrera and Fielder are, that could be worth an additional five to 10 runs a season—perhaps adding one win to the Tigers' total.

PHOTODARREN CARROLL (CABRERA)PHOTOFRED VUICH (VERLANDER)