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Miggy final bats 3rd!


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MINNEAPOLIS -- The lineup changes Tigers manager Jim Leyland slept on Saturday night yielded one move for Sunday's series finale against the Twins at the Metrdome. First baseman Miguel Cabrera moved into the third spot in the order for the first time this season.

That's it for the lineup changes ... for now.

 

"I'm going to shake things up a little bit here shortly," Leyland said Sunday morning.

 

By shortly, he means Monday at home against Boston. The shakeup won't include personnel changes, but like Cabrera, the bats that have been in the lineup all along could find themselves in different spots.

 

"Same pieces," Leyland said, "but quite a bit different."

 

Or as he later put it, "I think you'll find it pretty drastic."

 

It'll mean little, of course, unless the Tigers can get different results from it than they've had so far.

 

Cabrera batted fifth in all 30 of his previous games this season. However, he hit third for most of the past two years with the Florida Marlins. Leyland went into Spring Training saying he would bat either Cabrera or Gary Sheffield in the third spot, with the other batting fifth. He soon settled on Sheffield at No. 3, in part for the slugger's ability to work pitchers and get on base.

 

Sheffield had Sunday off, a day of rest that Leyland had already been planning the past few days. Sheffield started the past eight games after returning from shoulder problems.

 

Leyland talked about shaking up his batting order after Saturday's 4-1 loss. The Tigers entered Sunday's series finale having scored just two runs over the first two games of the set. They had gone scoreless for 14 straight innings when Curtis Granderson hit a solo homer in the eighth inning Saturday. Minnesota starter Scott Baker and reliever Brian Bass had held Detroit scoreless for seven innings combined on four singles.

 

 

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"You don't look like you have energy when you're not running around the bases. We're tough to watch sometimes."

-- Tigers manager

Jim Leyland

 

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Those struggles prompted Leyland to bemoan the Tigers' at-bats after the game, calling them lethargic and inconsistent. His opinion didn't change with a good night's sleep.

 

"I just think our offense is better than this," Leyland said. "I know it's better than this. I've seen a couple things that surprised me."

 

One has to go beyond the basic statistics to find the ailments. Detroit entered the day fourth in the American League in scoring, first in slugging percentage and second in on-base percentage and home runs. However, the Tigers have been shut out four times -- already more than all of last season -- and held to one run on four other occasions. They've scored eight or more runs in eight games, winning all of them, but they've been held to three runs or fewer far more often. In those low-scoring situations, they're 0-14.

 

Part of the problem, Leyland explained, is that they don't have the speed or athleticism to do some of the tricks a manager might try to manufacture runs, such as hitting -and-running, stealing bases or taking an extra base.

 

That could explain some of the lethargy.

 

"You don't look like you have energy when you're not running around the bases," Leyland said. "We're tough to watch sometimes."

 

The other problem Leyland has noticed is no sense of urgency to get going.

 

"There's just not that extra kick in the pants to get you over the hump," he said. "I think it will happen. I'll be very disappointed if it doesn't."

 

He's not disappointed now, not yet. But what he has seen is about as far from what he expected as it is for fans.

 

"I'm shocked, really," Leyland said. "This offense is better than it showed."

 

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Its better than batting him fifth, although I still think Miggy is best suited for the clean-up spot in that Tigers lineup. It's only early May but Cabrera is still hitting in the .270-.280 zone while Ordonez is consistently going to hit above .320. Obviously Miggy's numbers will be there at the end of the year and I fully expect him to finish with a .315+ batting average once he figures out AL pitching. But for now I would bat the guy defending his batting crown in the 3 spot in a lineup that looks like this.

 

1. Granderson

2. Polanco/Renteria

3. Ordonez

4. Cabrera

5. Guillen

6. Sheffield

7. Polanco/Renteria

8. Rodriguez

9. Jones

 

With Cabrera and Guillen directly behind him, Ordonez would get some good pitches and would probably hit at a higher clip. Polanco and Renteria are interchangeable because Polanco has struggled thus far though ordinarily he would bat second. I still stick to my claim that Cabrera would have a 35+ homer 115+ RBI season out of the clean-up spot. But maybe that's why I'm not Jim Leyland.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Assuming Miggy stays on his current pace, he would finish with these numbers:

 

23 HR, 90 RBI's, 30 doubles, and 161 hits to go with roughly 73 runs scored.

 

Those numbers are well under Miggy's normal production. He's never had a full season where he has driven in less than 110 runs or had at least 175 base hits. He's also hitting well below his career batting average line of .310 (currently hitting .276). I had figured by mid-June he would have his average above .300 and it would be the Miggy of old.

 

Unfortunately, the numbers he is putting up so far this season are probably the norm for a typical 6 hitter in the AL. I don't get to watch him everyday like when he was with Florida, instead I can only check the box scores. Not being able to see him hit makes it difficult to come up with a reason for why he isn't putting up typical Miggy numbers. If he is indeed having trouble getting used to AL pitching, then you would think he should have a strong second half once he has seen AL pitching the first time through.

 

Another possible reason is the lack of protection he's getting in Detroit's lineup. Coming into the season, you would have thought that a lack of protection would be the last thing to worry about with that lineup. Guillen and Sheffield, who were both supposed to be hitting behind him, are having off years.

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