Now that spring has arrived along with baseball season, I’m going to break down the newly-blossoming Tigers season for all the ladies who can talk the talk. And as it turns out, a lot of ladies know their baseball … women make up 45 percent of the sport’s very even-gendered fan base. But if you’re still a novice baseball fan, checkout the baseball jargon in bold …. you’ll sound like a pro in no time.
I recently chatted with former Tigers Assistant GM, Dan Elve, who gave me an inside perspective on the season to come. Speed is the name of the game this season, he says, as the Tigers become more focused on base running. In the past, the Tigers have been the “hitting type,” having led the league in batting average. But with speedy additions like Ian Kinsler and Rajai Davis, the emphasis will be on stealing bases, instead of relying on strong hitters to advance runners. And they’ll need that speed, Elve stresses, since the team lost heavy hitter, Prince Fielder, along with “30 percent of their home runs that came from guys like Tuiasosopo, Peralta and Infante last season.”
Leading off this season, Elve believes, will be Ian Kinsler, whose job is to get in scoring position using his quickness. Next is Rajai Davis. Even if he singles all season, he should be stealing second regularly … he did steal more bases last season than the entire Tigers team. Batting third will be Miguel Cabrera.
One swing of his bat will be enough to drive the speedy Kinsler and Davis home. Unfortunately, Victor Martinez, batting in the fourth or clean-up position, doesn’t pose the threat at the plate that Fielder did in last year’s fourth spot. Because teams have a better shot at getting Martinez out than they do Cabrera, there is a danger of teams pitching around, or intentionally walking Cabrera on a regular basis.
Lastly, let’s talk Rotation. Justin Verlander will retain the Tigers’ first spot in the pitching order as their Ace. Second in the order will be Cy Young Award Winner, Max Scherzer, voted the American League’s best pitcher. Next are the dependable Anibal Sanchez and Rick Porcello. This year should be Porcello’s breakout season, Elve predicts, because as a ground ball pitcher, he’s not trying to strike every batter out. Also, the improved defense will help by jumping on the balls that get past the mound.
All in all, new Tigers Manager Brad Ausmus has his hands full with less offense and less managerial experience than Jim Leyland. With Jeff Jones and Gene Lamont left over from the previous coaching staff, however, there is no reason to think the Tigers aren’t play-off bound again.
Whew … are you still talking the talk with me?