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 Here's how Tigers' 2010 batting order is taking shape

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PostSubject: Here's how Tigers' 2010 batting order is taking shape   Wed Mar 10, 2010 9:10 pm


Jim Leyland hugs Curtis Granderson before Wednesday's Tigers-Yankees game. (Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press)



Last Updated: March 10. 2010 4:37PM
Lynn Henning
Here's how Tigers' 2010 batting order is taking shape

Lakeland, Fla. -- Jim Leyland worries about his starting rotation. Fans worry about the Tigers' offense.

It's a fundamental difference in how the Tigers' 2010 prospects are viewed 26 days before the team opens at Kansas City.

Today, the fans win. A look at how the Tigers' batting order is shaping up, and what might be expected, at spring camp's halfway point:

1. Austin Jackson, center field: Easily the most pleasant surprise of any player on the roster. The scouting reports on Jackson tended to be mixed during some off-season research, unless you were talking with the Tigers. They believed mightily in Jackson, and now we're seeing why: He plays a better center field than Curtis Granderson and so far he has hit dramatically better than some of us imagined. One question: Will the bat hold up when the pitching turns tougher?

2. Johnny Damon, left field: It's easy to spend another man's money, but Tigers owner Mike Ilitch must know he just invested the best $8 million of his life. Damon gives the Tigers a 12-volt batter at the top of the order, which was critical to this team having any shot, offensively, at matching up with the division's heavyweights. Just as vital, he stabilizes left field.

3. Magglio Ordonez, right field:
All but transformed by an off-season conditioning program that would have made a Marine proud, Ordonez has been a stunning story. He is in the best condition of his life and hitting like the Ordonez of 2007.

4. Miguel Cabrera, first base: Personally, his 2010 season has already been a triumph. He hasn't been hitting the way he can, but that figures to be a matter of time when you're a superstar who next month turns 27. One question that must be asked: Will the tranquility in his personal life perhaps lead to a more mellow Cabrera at the plate? It sounds absurd, but psychology can manifest itself in some contradictory ways on the playing field, particularly when you've been through the soul-searching, life-changing experience that continues for Cabrera.

5. Carlos Guillen, designated hitter: He is healthy. He is upbeat. He is a quality big-league hitter. A case could be made that Guillen is the most important person in Leyland's lineup. Without a productive Guillen at the fifth spot, the Tigers will have a miserable time delivering game-changing runs.

6. Scott Sizemore, second base: Getting a bead on Sizemore has been difficult. He is still recovering from last autumn's fracture of his lower left leg. But it appears as if Sizemore will be adequate, defensively, and a decent offensive player at the outset who should get steadily stronger as he gains steam during his rookie year.

7. Brandon Inge, third base:
He will get his first game action next week. Everything points to Inge having an overall season in step with the first half of 2009. Along with Jackson's potential and Ordonez's comeback, Inge looms as potentially the batting order's biggest surprise.

8. Gerald Laird, catcher: He is a different hitter, for sure. The new batting approach (bat flatter) will help, perhaps no more than the simple fact Laird tends to hit well in alternating years. That he was adjusting last year to full-time catching responsibilities definitely affected his numbers. Laird won't be an All-Star hitter, but he is much better than .225 and looks as if he's ready to prove it.

9. Adam Everett, shortstop: Nothing will change. Everett will hit .235, perhaps, and get a handful of big hits. Shortstop is the most important defensive position on the field, and Everett takes care of business there with the best of them. But at a place where offense also counts, the Tigers will get the minimum in 2010.

lynn.henning@detnews.com


From The Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/20100310/OPINION03/3100404/Here-s-how-Tigers--2010-batting-order-is-taking-shape#ixzz0hpEYr4co


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
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