Dr. Lineup: Early Spring Training Observations
Although the results and statistics don't count, spring training games can still provide valuable information for regular season games.
Everyday regulars may only have a few at-bats during spring games, but reviewing the starting lineup can provide some keys to the lineup order come April. Looking for advantages on early season trends will likely help owners on draft day.
With just a few spring training games in the books in 2012, here are a few interesting notes for fantasy owners.
A lot of the talk surrounding the Detroit Tigers this off-season has revolved around Prince Fielder
and Miguel Cabrera
- and with good reason. However, perhaps more importantly, is the opportunity that outfielder Brennan Boesch
will have this season. The 26-year old outfielder got off to a hot start early in 2011 (.306/.360/.490) but would finish the second half of the season hitting .219/.288/.368 in 31 games.
Fast forward to 2012 - Boesch appears likely to hit in the No. 2 hole in front of Cabrera and Fielder and has a real shot to score close to 100 runs and hit between 15 and 20 home runs. Lineup protection/spot is widely considered a myth, but hitting in front of two potential American League All-Stars is a great myth to believe in.
Below is the lineup the Tigers used for their home Grapefruit League opener against the Braves. It provides a good indicator of how things will likely look on Opening Day.
Chicago White Sox
The Chicago White Sox appear to have set their everyday lineup based on their first Cactus League game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. New manager Robin Ventura
is confident that Alex Rios
can handle hitting in the No.3 hole, even after the 31-year-old outfielder posted a .613 OPS in 2011. Ventura will leave Gordon Beckham
in the No. 9 hole and rely on veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski
to hit in the No. 2 slot.
Here's how their lineup shaped up during their Cactus League opener, and is more than likely what White Sox fans will see on most game days in 2012.
Staying in the central division, let's take a look at the Milwaukee Brewers of the National League Central. The Brew Crew were set to role out their Opening Day lineup in their first game in the Cactus League, but Corey Hart
and Rickie Weeks
were late scratches due to injuries. Weeks suffered a shoulder injury and a MRI revealed that Hart will require arthroscopic surgery on his right knee and will likely miss between 3 and 4 weeks.
With Hart likely starting the season on the disabled list, the Brewers will give plenty of opportunities to Carlos Gomez
and Norichika Aoki
as their third outfielder.
Prior to the late scratches, here's how the Brewers would have looked for their Cactus League opener against the San Francisco Giants and on Opening Day (minus George Kottaras
in the No. 9 hole).
Staying with the NL Central theme, the Cincinnati Reds posted a lineup that is very close to their Opening Day roster, but it also raises some question about Dusty Baker's alliance.
Off-season free-agent signing Ryan Ludwick
is penciled in as the No.4 hitter, and while he's no stranger to hitting behind great hitters (Albert Pujols
in St. Louis), Ludwick has put together two stinker seasons over the past two years. Ludwick has spoken to the media about playing for the Padres in 2011 and how he tried pulling the ball way too much in order to generate power in the pitcher friendly Petco Park. However, Ludwick has stated that he's worked this off-season on driving the ball to all parts of the field - something that Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati is known for.
If Ludwick struggles, will Dusty Baker
stick with the veteran or turn things over to 27-year-old Chris Heisey
, who hit 18 home runs in 279 at-bats last season.
In addition to Ludwick's playing time, the Reds will also have a "position battle" at the catching spot. Rookie prospect Devin Mesoraco
is ready for a big league job, but veteran Ryan Hanigan
could cut into Mesoraco's at-bats. The catching competition is open, but my money is on Mesoraco for the long haul in 2012.
Here's how an everyday lineup for the Reds could look in 2012 (minus some platoon changes and the DH spot).
Toronto Blue Jays
When many think of the American League East, teams like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are the first teams thought of. However, with teams such as the Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays acquiring young talent though trades and the MLB Draft, the division has become competitive as ever.
For their home opener in Dunedin, the Blue Jays fielded a team very close to their possible Opening Day lineup. Just looking at this lineup on paper - this team has a chance to do some real damage in the AL East, and is probably thankful that there's now a second wild card team in the playoffs.
The lineup below could be a common occurrence in 2012 with the exception of a revolving door in left field between Eric Thames
, Travis Snider
, Rajai Davis
, and Ben Francisco
. However, if one of those four mentioned players takes the role and runs with it, there could be a clear cut favorite to start the season.
These are just a few of the many storylines happening in spring training thus far. Be sure to check out all the lineups
on Baseball Press and check back soon for more notes from Dr. Lineup.