New starting lineup prediction after Detroit Tigers sent Isaac Paredes to Triple A
DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers sent prospective Isaac Paredes to minor league camp this week and messed up the starting grid with opening day in less than a week.
Manager AJ Hinch gave Paredes ample opportunity to win his first third basic job this spring. Due to Paredes’ contact quality and the way Hinch spoke about his defense, it seemed like he had a very good chance of making the squad but he was sent down on Thursday.
This opens the door for Jeimer Candelario to return to his preferred third base location and creates a hole first. Here is a new prediction for the starting grid on opening day.
Spring statistics: .243 / .364 / .486 (.850 OPS), 2 HR, 3 doubles, 6 walks, 11 strikes in 37 bats.
He’s been feeling best in the line-up since the day the Tigers signed Grossman. Well, this spring he reinforced that case with a base percentage of 0.364.
Grossman is much more noticeable than his career quota this spring, but the sample size is obviously small so it’s not a big problem. He went deep into the count and consistently reached the base from Hinch.
Spring statistics: .359 / .395 / .462 (.857 OPS), 2 doubles, 1 triple, 2 walks, 4 strikes in 39 bats.
Do the Tigers finally have a manager who hits his best punch in second place, where it belongs?
Early signs are promising in this regard, as Candelario is in second place this spring and has done his best to validate a Breakout 2020 campaign in which he scored 21 extra base hits in 52 games .297 / .369 / .503.
Sure, it was only 52 games, and even those spring numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. But it’s better to see Candelario swing a hot bat than the alternative.
Spring statistics: .318. / 362 / .614 (.975 OPS), 2 doubles, 1 triple, 3 HR, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts in 44 bats.
The conversation around Castro this season was mainly about how he could no longer keep his numbers from 2020. Obviously he won’t. But people may not have spent enough time to take into account that the 23-year-old is still improving on the dish.
Castro tears the cover off the ball in 44 Spring At-Bats. His average stroke cap could be a little higher than expected, although his base percentage is limited by the fact that he is not running.
Hinch has pretty much put Castro in hole # 3 every time he starts this spring, so this is a safe bet.
Spring statistics: .219 / .257 / .344 (.601 OPS), 1 double, 1 HR, 1 walk, 9 strikes in 32 bats.
We’ve got to the part of preseason where every conversation about Cabrera is a version of “He’s not the MVP candidate he used to be, but he still has something up his sleeve”.
Yes, Cabrera has hit the ball hard for the past couple of seasons and it was encouraging to see he has run 10 home races in 57 games over the past year. But he’s posted an OPS below 0.750 for the past four seasons.
It looks like Hinch is including Cabrera in the cleanup area, but it’s not so much a guarantee that he will succeed there as everyone seems to think.
Spring statistics: .143 / .250 / .190 (.440 OPS), 1 double, 3 walks, 6 strikes in 21 bats.
Schoop didn’t get as many spring-at-bats as the others above, and he’s still trying to find his timing on the plate.
But when the opening day rolls around he’ll be the starter on the second base, and Hinch seems to prefer him to finish fifth where he can be a run producer.
Spring statistics: .192 / .222 / .385 (.607 OPS), 2 doubles, 1 HR, 10 strikeouts in 26 bats.
Spring has not been kind to Nunez so far – 10 strikes and no walks in 27 record appearances – but it still benefits most from sending Paredes to Triple A.
As much as Hinch insists that Cabrera will play first base this season, the Tigers don’t want to test that regularly. Nunez isn’t a very good defender, but the power in his racket seems to have earned him a shot at the starting job.
If Nunez doesn’t get the job, Harold Castro offers himself the opportunity to set up the opening roster. Niko Goodrum, Cabrera and Schoop were able to do some repetitions on the first base.
Spring statistics: .182 / .250 / .182 (.432 OPS), 2 walks, 6 strikes in 22 bats.
It would be no surprise to see Mazara in 8th place behind Wilson Ramos, but so far Hinch has had him in the line-up above the catcher this spring.
Mazara has not yet recorded an extra base hit with 22 bats this spring. Despite the constant 20 homer force, that has been a problem for him in his career. If Mazara struggles early in the regular season, the Tigers have some outfielders who could start taking their bats.
Spring statistics: .273 / .333 / .455 (.788 OPS), 3 doubles, 1 HR, 3 walks, 7 strikes in 33 bats.
Ramos will be a solid offensive catcher and average behind the plate. The tigers saw this consistency from the veteran earlier this spring.
At least Ramos expands the Tiger roster considerably and brings a certain legitimate power potential into the lower third. If he returns to his 2018 or 2019 form, this will be an even bigger bonus.
Spring statistics: .135 / .238 / .324 (.562 OPS), 1 double, 2 HR, 4 walks, 14 strikes in 37 bats.
The only returning member of last year’s outfield still on the grid is Jones, who posted an OPS of 0.849 before a pitch hit ended his 2020 season prematurely.
Jones is attracting attention at an alarming rate this spring, but again, it’s a tiny sample size that shouldn’t detract from the consistent profits he’s made on the plate over the past three years.
If he starts the season in a big slump, Jones is another outfielder who could lose to Victor Reyes or Akil Baddoo.
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