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Tigers move Austin Jackson in lineup, make Ian Kinsler their leadoff hitter

Mar 30, 2014, 6:05 PM EDT

Kinsler Getty Images

The Tigers have made second baseman Ian Kinsler their leadoff hitter, bumping center fielder Austin Jackson down to the fifth slot in the lineup, MLB.com’s Jason Beck writes in his latest column.

Since joining the Tigers in December 2009 in a three-way trade with the Diamondbacks and Yankees, Jackson has taken 2,554 of his 2,574 career plate appearances (99.2 percent) out of the leadoff spot in the lineup. Kinsler, too, has spent a majority of his time in the leadoff spot, taking 3,093 of his 4,791 career plate appearances (64.6 percent) there.

The lineup alteration does appear to have merit. Compared to Jackson, Kinsler has much better plate discipline, steals bases more often, and successfully steals bases at a higher rate than Jackson. Jackson strikes out a lot and hasn’t put his speed to much use lately — he stole only eight bases in 12 attempts in 2013 — so he is a better fit in the number five or six spot.

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  1. 13arod - Mar 30, 2014 at 6:29 PM

    why not this kinsler hits leadoff and jackson bats second

    • jeffbbf - Mar 30, 2014 at 8:11 PM

      129 strikeouts for jackson in 2013. Traditionally, you want someone who can handle a bat and give up a strike (to allow the lead-off man to steal 2nd) batting 2nd.

    • spursareold - Mar 31, 2014 at 3:18 PM

      Bat control, or lack thereof.

  2. markofapro - Mar 30, 2014 at 8:35 PM

    Kinsler just popped up again.

    • einjzmolf - Mar 30, 2014 at 9:45 PM

      Literally came in here to say ‘get the pop ups out of the way early atleast’

    • spursareold - Mar 31, 2014 at 3:20 PM

      Some pops will drop into play. The amount of baserunners from strikeouts approaches zero. You need a butterfingered catcher with a bad arm.

  3. dracko19 - Mar 30, 2014 at 9:23 PM

    AJax was moved down in the lineup during the playoffs and excelled. He’s never been an ideal lead off guy, but was there because DET never has had an ideal lead off guy while he’s been there. Ausmus isn’t afraid to do things that make statistical sense vs Leyland who managed with his gut.

  4. Minoring In Baseball - Mar 30, 2014 at 9:24 PM

    A-Jax has hit much better lower in the lineup. He hit well in the playoffs once he moved down, and has had a good spring. The Tigers also have Rajai Davis that can hit lead-off, also. I think this was a pretty obvious move from a Tigers fan perspective.

    http://minoringinbaseball.com/

  5. pwshrugged - Mar 30, 2014 at 11:09 PM

    It’s unfair to say that A-Jax “doesn’t use his speed” – Leyland’s philosophy was basically to not have his guys ahead of Cabrera run. Ever. Under Ausmus this year, I wouldn’t be surprised if A-Jax steals 20 bags, even in the 5-spot. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if A-Jax hits the 20/20 mark this season. He has more power than people think, and the word out of spring is that he’s set to rake. I’m very interested to see how this works and how he looks batting 5th; based on his skill-set, it could work quite well. As others have noted, he’s raked from the lower part of the lineup in the past.

    • sparty0n - Mar 31, 2014 at 9:22 AM

      I dont care if AJax hits 0HR for the year as long as he can reduce the strikeouts. He needs to be more disciplined and just make contact.

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