I realize in some baseball circles it's believed batting orders don't really matter.
But even they would have to admit Jim Leyland batting Gerald Laird 2nd against the Mets, when he was batting (term used loosely) a robust .180 going into the game, was (Hold on....let me go to Thesaurus.com) asinine, brainless, dense, dimwitted, doltish, dopey, dumb, foolish, half-baked, idiotic, ill-advised, imbecilic, inane, irresponsible, ludicrous, mindless, nonsensical, pointless, senseless, unintelligent, and unthinking.
It was stupid, too.
At least this was the first time Leyland has put Laird anywhere other than 7th or 8th in the batting order. I can only hope it was the last time.
All of this is my way of showing my continuing displeasure with Leyland's refusal to re-jigger his batting order when a player is rested, injured, benched, in the doghouse or when he insists on those goofy Sunday lineups.
As bad as it was throwing Laird to the wolves in the 2 slot, we Tigers fans realize it's par for the nicotine addled course. If you watch the Tigers with any regularity, you know Leyland sends out nonsensical batting orders on a near daily basis.
For example, let's take a look at Ryan Raburn's plate appearances this season. He has 65 PA in the 1 thru 5 spots, while only 47 when batting 6 or lower. Need I remind you Raburn is hitting all of .186? Yet the struggling utility man has more AB's at the top of the order than the bottom.
Then we have the case of Don Kelly. The 25th man on the roster is swinging the his wilted lumber to the tune of .214, but has 29 PA batting 1st or 2nd. The fact his OBP is over .300 (which I found surprising) shouldn't change the fact Kelly should NEVER be considered a top of the order hitter.
The poster child for my case against Leyland's inconceivable batting orders is he of the cult, Clete Thomas. In 2009, Clete had 183 PA in the 3 hole, with a BA barely making it to the Mendoza Line, at an even .200.
The fact Thomas was a semi-regular in the meat of the Tigers' order in 2009 is mind-blowing. You could even make a case it was one reason (out of several) the Tigers had to play game 163.
All because of Leyland's steadfast and mule-like refusal to adjust his batting order.
I really like Leyland as a clubhouse guy, the way he runs the team on a daily basis is the best in the business. In fact, keeping order, running the team and making sure your players are happy is by far the biggest portion of a big league manager's job description.
But as a tactician? Leyland has an NL mindset while managing an AL team. He should be thinking of ways to maximize his team's offense, instead of refusing to juggle positions in the batting order occasionally.
His refusal to put players in a position to succeed by placing them in situations where they have trouble performing (such as Raburn hitting so high in the order) has long been my biggest issue with the Tigers' manager.
Leyland's screwy batting orders place his role players in a position to fail.