The Tigers finished 11th in runs scored in baseball this season, but despite that their lineup is as feared as anybody’s in baseball. That’s because they have a speedy All-Star leading off, a triple crown winner batting third, and Prince Fielder batting fourth. That combo is capable of producing a crocked number anytime their spot comes around in the lineup.
Here is a look at the entire Tigers roster as they prepare to face the Yankees:
Austin Jackson, CF: This was Ajax’s third full season in the majors and it was easily his best. He still maintained elite defense in center field, but he improved his average, on base percentage, and power in a big way this year. He can do it all and did this season, hitting .300/.377/.479. As Curtis Granderson regressed, it’s hard to look back and love that trade these days. He’s one of the best center fielders in the game.
Omar Infante, 2B: The Tigers got worse production from the second base spot than any team in baseball did this season and they really didn’t make up for it with great defense. That’s where Infante comes in. He only played 64 games there for Detroit after coming over from the Marlins and didn’t exactly solidify the position, but at least they have a consistent veteran presence now. Don’t expect this .257/.283/.385 hitter to do much this series.
Miguel Cabrera, 3B: Not much to say about him. He won the triple crown after hitting .330/.393/.606 this season. He’s amazing and he’s consistent. The Yankees will have to find a way to pitch around him. His defense is an issue that hopefully the Yankees can capitalize on.
Prince Fielder, 1B: Possibly just as good as Cabrera. He hit .313/.412/.528 this season. He makes it hard to pitch around Cabrera. Will be a problem for the Yankees eventually. A solid, but not spectacular defender.
Delmon Young, DH: Once young and full of potential. These days Young looks like he’s never going to live up to that potential. Overall he didn’t have a good season and hit .267/.296/.411. The hope is that he can run into one every now and then. He doesn’t steal and won’t take many walks. Despite his name, he’s one of the weaker hitters in the lineup.
Jhonny Peralta, SS: Peralta is a better player than the .239/.305/.384 line he posted this season. He’s a solid defensive shortstop, he isn’t going to hit for power, he won’t steal bases either. Except him to come through with some pesky hits though and shows decent enough patience at the plate. He won’t kill the Yankees, but they have to be careful and not treat him as an after thought.
Andy Dirks, LF: The Tigers had some trouble getting production from left field this season until Dirks began to get regular playing time. He hit .322/.370/.487 in 88 games this season and has the best chance of anybody of surprising the Yankees. The trick to getting Dirks out is to keep a steady diet of left handed pitchers coming at him.
Avisail Garcia, RF: Right field was another big trouble spot for the Tigers. They ranked 26th overall with a .291 wOBA out there and never really found an answer to that problem. The 21-year-old, who was promoted after half a season at Double-A this year, had mixed results in just 23 games. His overall numbers weren’t impressive, but was solid in the outfield and hit .319 with a .373 OBP. The problem is that he seriously lacks power, not one of his hits were for extra bases. Still, he could potentially be another who comes up with some annoying hits against the Yankees.
Gerald Laird, C: The brother of Brandon Laird will start Game 1 and will probably split time with Alex Avila behind the plate. While neither player was overly impressive this year, they are solid fielders and finished 11th overall in wOBA in the majors. There is probably more to worry about in Avila, who shows patience at the plate and can hit for power. Don’t expect Laird to do a whole lot.