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 Doubles becoming second nature to Tigers

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PostSubject: Doubles becoming second nature to Tigers   Thu Apr 29, 2010 10:30 pm

Doubles becoming second nature to Tigers
Unlike last season, Detroit leading the league in two-baggers

By Jason Beck /

04/29/10 1:10 PM ET

DETROIT -- What was the biggest statistical disappointment of the Tigers' offense in 2009 is shaping up to be the biggest surprise of '10, doubly so.

For a lineup with good gap hitters playing in a ballpark with big gaps, the fact that last year's Tigers finished last in the Major Leagues in doubles was a borderline shock to president/general manager Dave Dombrowski, who mentioned it in his season-ending remarks to reporters.

Three and a half weeks into the 2010 season, there's a doubles revival going on in Comerica Park. Heading into Thursday's finale vs. Minnesota, Detroit leads the big leagues with 62 doubles -- better than a quarter of its '09 total of 245 -- and its offense looks all the better for it.

Two of the Tigers' hitters, Miguel Cabrera and Brandon Inge, entered Thursday tied for second in the American League with 10 doubles each, one behind league leader Vernon Wells of the Blue Jays. Johnny Damon is in the top 10 with eight. Austin Jackson and Magglio Ordonez have six and five, respectively.

All of them have been big doubles hitters in the past, but neither Inge nor Ordonez were prolific at it last season. Even when Inge was blistering hits over the first half of last season with 21 homers, he had just nine doubles at the All-Star break.

Nobody really has much of an explanation for it, other than better overall hitting.

"I don't want to twist it around wrong when I say luck," Inge said. "You're talented when you're hitting them, but I don't think there's a guy out there that can say, 'I'm going to hit this ball two feet to the right over in right field.' So depending on what we're doing, that just shows you we're having good at-bats and putting the barrel on the ball, and that means it goes in the gaps for you. You can't guide it after you hit it. You have no control where it's going after it leaves the bat. That's why I say it's half luck."

The focus on at-bats has particular merit. It was a point of emphasis on the part of coaches this spring not to give away at-bats, which has been one reason the Tigers have been so dangerous offensively when they've been behind.

To manager Jim Leyland, it's a sign that his hitters are using the whole field rather than simply trying to pull most pitches.

"It means normally that they're staying on the ball, taking it to both sides -- right-center, left-center," Leyland said. "It's pretty good."

It also means that Dombrowski is happier with his offense.

"My boss' favorite hit is a double," Leyland said, "so he ought to be happy. More than anything, he likes doubles. I like doubles, too, but I'd rather have homers. But I'm not looking for them."

Jason Beck is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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