Detroit Tigers: Why are Travis Demeritte, Jake Rogers batting so low in the lineup?
Travis Demeritte, Jake Rogers lead Tigers in OPS since joining team
DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers have the worst offense in baseball, but with some of the moves they've made in recent weeks, it should get a little bit better.
Most notably, outfielder Travis Demeritte has given the Tigers a spark since coming over in the Shane Greene trade. The 24-year-old prospect has 13 hits and seven walks in 13 games, including four extra-base hits.
His on-base percentage is by far the best on the team, and his OPS is just above that of another recent addition to the lineup: Jake Rogers.
In terms of batting average, Rogers has struggled in his first 12 major league games. He's hitting just .179 with seven hits and 17 strikeouts.
But like Demeritte, Rogers can draw a walk. He's done so eight times already. Add his .319 on-base percentage to his four home runs, and he's been the second-most productive hitter in the lineup since being called up.
The two have combined for 20 hits, 15 walks, five home runs and eight extra-base hits in 25 games. It's not elite production, but it's certainly better than what the Tigers have at the top of the lineup.
Why is Ron Gardenhire burying these young players at the bottom of the order?
For example, on Wednesday night, the Tigers faced left-handed starter Marco Gonzalez, of the Seattle Mariners. Demeritte and Rogers are both right-handed hitters who mash against lefties.
In 82 at-bats against left-handed hitters this year in the minors, Rogers posted a 1.032 OPS. In 127 at-bats against left-handed pitchers, Demeritte posted a .936 OPS.
Both have had success in limited at-bats against lefties since joining the Tigers.
But who sat atop the Tigers' lineup Wednesday night? Victor Reyes and his .661 OPS, followed by Dawel Lugo and his .592 OPS.
Reyes picked up two hits and raised his OBP to .314, 56 points lower than Demeritte's.
Lugo, who occupied the No. 2 hole, where the best hitter on the team should bat, has the lowest OPS of anyone in Wednesday's lineup. He has four walks and five extra-base hits in 36 games this season.
Gardenhire would likely cite sample size as a reason for keeping Demeritte and Rogers down in the order, but regardless of sample size, there's really no argument to have them below Reyes, Lugo and John Hicks.
If anything, the sample size is an argument in support of moving Demeritte and Rogers up in the order so the Tigers can see how they respond. They would also get more at-bats before the end of the season.
The Tigers don't have many players with a combination of power and plate discipline. They should take advantage of two young players showing flashes of both.
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