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Detroit Tigers Links: Justin Upton will likely be Tigers’ No. 2 hitter

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After bouncing around the lineup last offseason, Upton will likely start 2017 in the same place he did last year.

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Detroit Tigers Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Last offseason, the biggest question the Detroit Tigers faced involved their outfield. Sound familiar? Things were even more unclear last winter, when the Tigers were apparently set to run with some combination of Anthony Gose, Cameron Maybin, and (gulp) Mike Aviles in center and left field. After the Tigers remedied that situation by signing Justin Upton to a six-year deal, the conversation shifted to the lineup. Specifically, who was going to bat second?

One year later, we’re in that same boat again. Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that Upton will likely start the year as the team’s No. 2 hitter, the same lineup spot he manned to begin the 2016 season. There isn’t as much competition for that spot this year, with Nick Castellanos the only other plausible option on the roster. Hopefully it doesn’t take as long to find a winning combination this year, though; Upton hit .211/.238/.303 in 18 games as the team’s No. 2 hitter last season.

These boots were made for walking on four pitches, not one sign

On Monday, Major League Baseball introduced a rule change that would eliminate the four pitches needed to issue an intentional walk. Most fans seem opposed to this rule, in part because it doesn’t actually speed up the pace of game. FanGraphs’ Nick Stellini wrote a lot of words about this topic before getting to the point. Naturally, it was the same point I was going to make.

MOAR PROSPECTZ

We have been busy rolling out our 2017 prospect rankings this month, and other publications have also recently released their lists. Baseball Prospectus put Christin Stewart ahead of Beau Burrows to rank second in the Tigers’ system (since No. 1 is no contest). MLB Pipeline did the opposite, and bumped injured outfielder Derek Hill up to No. 4 in the system. Motor City Bengals is going in the opposite direction, and should release their top five soon. I’m a bit surprised Drew Smith ranks ahead of Jose Azocar. Finally, ESPN’s Keith Law named Beau Burrows the Tigers’ sleeper prospect of 2017.

Happy PECOTA Day!

We covered some of Baseball Prospectus’ projections last weekend, but BP released their full PECOTA projections for the 2017 season on Wednesday. And, well... they’re not pretty.

Luckily, no one in the American League is expected to be all that good; PECOTA projects just five of 15 AL teams to finish above .500.

For your free time

Indians fans had flashbacks to the World Series during the Super Bowl. The Nationals want White Sox closer David Robertson. New Royals pitcher Jason Hammel is a poor man’s Ian Kennedy. That doesn’t sound like a good thing for the Royals. They did sign Brayan Pena, though. Grant Brisbee does what Grant Brisbee does. The best player in baseball is somehow the best player in fantasy baseball. Watch a former Mariners GM salivate over Justin Verlander.

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