The Tigers may now have the best offense in the AL. They lost Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer for Shane Greene and Alfredo Simon in a rotation that took a step back (at least until Dombrowski works his magic), but they upgraded with Cespedes for Torii Hunter, and have two new platoons that will make everything work for this offense.
Anthony Gose will lead off on Opening Day. This is something he will do for now against righties, if it proves too much he can be moved to the bottom of the order and Kinsler and Avila can be used at 1 and 2. Gose finally started to find his swing at the beginning of Spring before slowing down. He still should combine with Rajai Davis to make a fine platoon. Ian Kinsler showed he isn’t finished yet with his 2014 campaign and he should have another year or two before he starts to decline.
In the middle of the order we have the right handed power. Miguel Cabrera is Miguel Cabrera; even his downside is being a top five hitter in the league this year. He should find his power stroke again and be back to lacing the ball to all fields. Victor Martinez will lose some power, but he’s the type of guy you can expect to hit until you take the bat from him and tell him to retire. He’s honestly one of the best pure hitters I’ve seen in Detroit and getting him back was huge for Detroit, even if he isn’t second in the MVP vote again. Fifth, the Tigers will have JD Martinez, who might lose a few points off his average, but shoulde hit 30 homers and be a solid five hitter. Hitting him fifth is actually important because Cespedes is more of a free swinger, so if JD can stay patient, he could really protect Miggy and Victor well. Finally, we get to the guy who is the big addition to the lineup, Yoenis Cespedes. I fully expect a big year for Yoenis in his contract season. He’s going to be exciting to watch on the field, but mostly with his bat. His raw power is limitless — the dude is strong. He’s only 5’10 but he’s built every bit like a linebacker. Cespedes is one of the more muscular guys I can remember seeing. He can use left field and down the line in right to really show off his pop at Comerica. It’s a weird prediction, but with his power I think Cespedes could take advantage of Comerica and set a career high in triples.
At the bottom, there’s a bit of drop-off but the Tigers have guys who can still help. Alex Avila gets on base despite his bad strikeout rate and can be utilized in a few different batting order positions this season. He also has good power and provides timely hitting. James McCann will platoon with him. McCann can hit lefties above average, so watch out for this platoon to do some damage. Think of it like what the A’s had going on behind the plate last year between John Jaso, Stephen Vogt, and Derek Norris except with more defense and a bit less offense. Nick Castellanos will be a great hitter when it’s all said and done. Though he won’t reach his full potential this season, he could make leaps forward and provide lots of value in the seven or eight hole. That extra base pop could be great. Jose Iglesias has a lot less pressure to hit with all of this in front of him, but he’s not here to hit. He’s here to play defense and bring things to the table that sluggers like Miggy really can’t.
Imagine having to face Kinsler-Cabrera-Martinez-Martinez-Cespedes in a row. Really, that statement shows that these guys mean business on offense and should live up to that feared billing they’re getting. The 20.5 2014 oWAR between those five hitters speaks for itself. The Red Sox 2-6 hitters, who have been highly touted too, only had a 15.7 cumulative 2014 oWAR — almost 25% less production. The pitching may be down a bit this year, but the potent Tigers lineup will have balls flying all around the Motor City.