It appears that Jim Leyland has settled on a lineup that he might use some of the time depending on the handedness of pitchers. One thing he did settle on though is that for the time being Pudge Rodriguez will lead off against left handers and Curtis Granderson will lead off against right handers.
The knee jerk reaction from much of the sabermetric community will be to look at Pudge’s batting average heavy OBP (332 and 290 the last 2 seasons) and decry the move. But Detroit Tiger Tales earlier showed the splits that indicate this is a tactic worth at least trying. The Tigers with a right handed heavy roster have very little platoon flexibility and this is a way for Leyland to squeeze a little platoon advantage.
Plus, the few times that Rodriguez led off last year, it appeared he tried to show more patience at the plate. Whether or not that is sustainable (he has a lot of career at-bats working against him), and whether or not it leads to better results, are both huge questions. But if Leyland can help the team score more runs, and Rodriguez become a better hit, why not try it?
The lineup he’ll put out against right handers is: Granderson/Polanco/Sheffield/Guillen/Ordonez/Rodriguez/Casey/Monroe/Inge
And according to Danny Knobler, the players seem happy with the lineup, for whatever that’s worth.
As I’ve mentioned before, the order of the players in the lineup matters much less than which players are in it. This is because the Tigers lineup is quite balanced without real standout players, and without real black holes. Besides, Leyland will likely use over 100 different lineups this year. Last year the most common lineup used took the field all of 6 times.