1. Lineup of the future?
Judging by the reaction on Twitter, some sabermetricians practically wept with joy when Tigers manager Jim Leyland dropped Austin Jackson from first to eighth and moved most of his other hitters up one spot.
The best hitters getting the most plate appearances? The numbers folks are indeed onto something with this, and perhaps one day we’ll see most managers stack their lineups the way Leyland did Wednesday night. But let’s not expect him to be the keynote speaker at a SABR convention anytime soon.
Leyland acknowledged that his changes were born mostly out of desperation — Jackson entered the game 3 for 33 with 18 strikeouts in the postseason. It just made sense to ease the pressure off him, even if it meant Torii Hunter making his first appearance in the leadoff spot since 1999 and Miguel Cabrera his first appearance in the No. 2 hole since 2004.
The moves had their desired effect, particularly on Jackson, who went 2 for 2 with two walks, a stolen base and two RBI. Sabermetricians have shown that lineup construction means little to run production, but old-school types like Leyland still buy into the “speed at the top” concept. And the numbers show that when Jackson starts and scores a run, the Tigers win more than 70 percent of their games.
I’d actually love to see the Tigers bat Cabrera first, signaling immediately to the opponent, “It’s on!” The leadoff hitter, after all, is certain to lead off an inning only once, so why not?