Who should be the Tigers leadoff batter?

Last year Jim Leyland tried out something new by using a platoon at the lead off spot. The player that was leadoff depended on the starting pitcher for the opposing team wherein Curtis Granderson hit first against RHP’s and Pudge Rodriguez hit first against LHP’s. This was due to Grandersons’ well documented inability to hit left handed pitching. Below are the pretty astounding splits showing this disparity during 2007:

  PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
vs RHP 543 .337 .393 .621 1.014
vs LHP 133 .160 .225 .269 .494

This is obviously a major weakness for Curtis as even with Leyland actively working to limit his plate appearances against left-handed pitching, 20% of his PAs came against left-handers. To offset this Leyland put out Pudge, who didn’t fare a whole heck of a lot better at leadoff:

  PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Pudge 1st 65 .277 .277 .446 .723
Tigers Overall 1st 777 .292 .348 .525 .873

That is certainly not getting the job done. Detroit simply needs more out of the position than Pudge is offering at all and that Curtis can provide alone. While I don’t believe that Curtis should be leadoff at all, mainly due to this weakness, Leyland has been clearly aiming to keep him in that role as much as possible. So with that in mind, what should the platoon look like?

I’d suggest Placido Polanco fill the role and that each spot just bump up a notch. Such as below:

vs RHP vs LHP
  1. Curtis Granderson
  2. Placido Polanco
  3. Gary Sheffield
  4. Magglio Ordonez
  5. Miguel Cabrera
  6. Carlos Guillen
  7. Edgar Rentaria
  8. Jones / Thames
  9. Pudge Rodriguez
  1. Placido Polanco
  2. Gary Sheffield
  3. Magglio Ordonez
  4. Miguel Cabrera
  5. Carlos Guillen
  6. Edgar Rentaria
  7. Jones / Thames
  8. Pudge Rodriguez
  9. Curtis Granderson

The best projected lineup has Gary Sheffield batting leadoff, and I like that but it’s unlikely. Wherever the lineup ends up.. please Jim, no more Pudge at leadoff. Too many other options exist now.

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3 Responses to Who should be the Tigers leadoff batter?

  1. BoPU says:

    I like Granderson leading off against right handers and on the bench against lefties. His large number doubles and triples and stolen second bases frequently put him in scoring position for Polanco and the big bats. Granderson was probably on second and third with less than two outs more than any other Tiger last year. He scored a lot of runs in the lead-off slot.

    He didn’t knock in many runs though. The Tigers 8 and 9 hitters last year had low OB percentages giving Granderson very few opportunities to drive in runs with his extra base hits. Inge batting before Granderson was the worse of all possible combinations. Inge couldn’t hit righthanders and Granderson couldn’t hit lefthanders. Each time through the line-up one of the two would be very ineffective depending upon whether a righty or a lefty was throwing. In late innings, opposing managers could turn Inge’s 900 OPS against lefthanders into a 500 OPS by putting in a right hander, and then neutralize Granderson’s 1.000+ OPS by bringing in a lefty. Runs are scored on combination of hits. The Granderson / Inge combo last year was simply awful at getting consecutive hits.

    Renteria seems to be the logical choice for leading off against lefthanders. He also would be a great replacement for Inge in the 9th slot against righthanded batters. Renteria lacks the power needed to drive in runners from the heart of the order but he can get on base and continue an inning. Considering that Renteria swiftness would often allow him to score from first on a Granderson double (and wouldn’t it be nice to have a runner when Granderson triples), I’d like to see Renteria bat 9th. Let Jacque Jones pick up the RBIs from the 4, 5, & 6 men. I certainly don’t want to see Renteria moving a runner to third, only to have Pudge make the third out on a grounder to short on what would have been ball 4. Bat Renteria 9th. Even with 2 outs, a Renteria/Granderson combo has a decent chance of scoring.

  2. Eric Jackson says:

    I agree that the Inge / Granderson situation was atrocious and we won’t be seeing that again thank goodness. :) But who is in centerfield while Granderson is on the bench? Raburn wasn’t great against them either (.259/.328/.431).

    There really isn’t anyway around it.. Grandy needs to learn to hit lefties. As bad as the Inge / Granderson combo was it was always disheartening to see a rally stopped when the opposing team brought in a lefty to face Curtis with runners on base.

  3. ET90210 says:

    I think Granderson has to be the leadoff hitter.

    Story on possible extension with Dontrelle. I bet he asks for more than the $10M per mentioned here.

    http://mlbfleecefactor.com/2007/12/20/dontrelle-talking-extension/

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