Leyland Embraces Tigers’ Offensive Identity As Power Team
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By Ashley Dunkak
DETROIT (CBS DETROIT) – By the numbers, the Detroit Tigers’ offense should not be a cause of concern whatsoever.
The Detroit Tigers’ collective batting average is an MLB-leading .281. They’re third in the majors in runs scored with 300. They’re first in hits with 588. They’re second in RBI with 295. The middle of the Tigers’ lineup includes the hottest-hitting batter in baseball, Miguel Cabrera, who does not appear to have experienced any hangover coming off a Triple Crown season in 2012.
And yet many are worried about the Tigers’ offense, which after 58 games this season has been shut out six times and lost two more games in which it only managed a single run.
Three of the shutouts came in the span of eight days – May 28 through June 5.
The consensus is that this lineup is much too good to have recorded this many shutouts to this point in the season, but Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he thinks everyone gets a little too caught up in that.
“You have to be realistic about it,” Leyland said. “You have to understand that – and I’m not complaining about this at all, I’m just making a point – there’s a few guys in our lineups that don’t run too good, don’t get around the bases too good, so we don’t get, sometimes, that extra run.
“[In] Pittsburgh we got four hits, didn’t get a run,” he continued. “You have to take that into the equation, and I’m very happy with the offense we’ve got. I’m very satisfied. Basically we’re a doubles team and a team that hits it over the fence. That’s what we are.”
It is not as if the Tigers never steal or never put on the hit-and-run, but they do not do it as much as many other teams. Leyland is not opposed to those strategies, but he said he adjusts his game plans to what kind of players he has rather than the other way around.
“There’s times you pick your spots with the players involved that you try to be creative, but you don’t want to sit over there and take the ball out of the Prince Fielder or Miguel Cabrera’s hand,” Leyland said. “You’re fighting your own self, you’re fighting against yourself when you do stuff like that. That’s not smart stuff.”
Because the Tigers have more power than they do speed, it seems as though having some games with double-digit runs and others with none is just part of the challenge.
“It is what it is,” Leyland said. “That’s what it is. I like our offense very much, but it’s a different type of offense. We don’t really have the capability of being real, real creative.”
Of course, having one of the best pitching rotations in the game makes having a less versatile offense easier.
“Three-run homers are a treat,” Leyland said. “If you don’t have that and you have speed, stolen bases are a treat, but like I said, three-run homers put Earl Weaver in the Hall of Fame – [that] and a good pitching staff.”