If it seems like only a couple of weeks ago that we were celebrating a change in the batting order, it was. About 15 days ago, Big Al trumpeted that Delmon Young would no longer be batting behind Prince Fielder. Progress! It's Brennan Boesch? And he's one one of his hitting streaks? Awesome.
Well, about that.
This week, when Tigers manager Jim Leyland's lineup was posted, fans had something to cheer about. Many even trumpeted a batting order as his best of the year. On Monday, we saw catcher Alex Avila batting fifth for the first time this season. On Tuesday, Jhonny Peralta took the spot. Obviously Leyland is playing the platoon thing. But that's fine.
The key thing is, neither Avila nor Peralta are Young and Boesch. I mean, you could dig into this deeper, grab stats, whatever you like. But ultimately, that's what counts here. Two of the team's most frustrating hitters continue falling down the order, allowing the Tigers to take more advantage of having Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder find their way on base seemingly all the time.
But since you wondered:
The 5-hole this season has had a cumulative trinity of .249 average, .280 on-base percentage and .369 slugging.
Avila has a .260 / .341 / .404 line this year. Since the All-Star break, it's .299 / .414 / .448. The truth may lie somewhere in the middle, but you know that Avila is a good hitter.
Peralta has a .263 / .329 / .418 line, and since the break he's batting .271 / .328 / .467.
The more often Avila is batting fifth, the better. But Peralta is a fine choice, too.
Really, the lingering question is "What the heck took Leyland so long to make the change?" Following up a pair of wonderful hitters with the inconsistent, first-pitch-swinging, frustrating-outs Young and Boesch just makes no sense.
This new batting order, if the manager sticks to it, ought to help the Tigers squeeze out a few more runs during the final six weeks of the regular season.