The Tigers have made second baseman Ian Kinsler their leadoff hitter, bumping center fielder Austin Jackson down to the fifth slot in the lineup, MLB.com’s Jason Beck writes in his latest column.
Since joining the Tigers in December 2009 in a three-way trade with the Diamondbacks and Yankees, Jackson has taken 2,554 of his 2,574 career plate appearances (99.2 percent) out of the leadoff spot in the lineup. Kinsler, too, has spent a majority of his time in the leadoff spot, taking 3,093 of his 4,791 career plate appearances (64.6 percent) there.
The lineup alteration does appear to have merit. Compared to Jackson, Kinsler has much better plate discipline, steals bases more often, and successfully steals bases at a higher rate than Jackson. Jackson strikes out a lot and hasn’t put his speed to much use lately — he stole only eight bases in 12 attempts in 2013 — so he is a better fit in the number five or six spot.
Announcement: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $100,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Opening Day’s games (March 31). It’s $25 to join and first prize is $15,000. Starts at 1:05pm ET on Opening Day. Here’s the FanDuel link.
The Cubs had a scare on Wednesday night when third baseman Kris Bryant left with an apparent ankle injury. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Nationals catcher Matt Wieters hit a pop up that veered just into foul territory near the third base bag. Bryant caught it but his momentum took him back into fair territory. In doing so, he stepped awkwardly on the third base bag and appeared to twist his ankle. Bryant needed the assistance of manager Joe Maddon and the team trainer to get off the field.
Bryant was diagnosed with a mild ankle sprain, CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports.
Bryant was 2-for-3 on the night before departing and being replaced by Jeimer Candelario. He’s now hitting .264/.395/.520 with 16 home runs and 32 RBI in 329 plate appearances. Needless to say, the 39-39 Cubs would see their playoff odds hurt immensely if Bryant were to miss a significant amount of time.
Hector Gomez reports Twins third baseman Miguel Sano will participate in the 2017 Home Run Derby, to be held in two weeks at Marlins Park in Miami. So far, Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is the only other confirmed participant.
Sano, 24, is having an outstanding season, batting .274/.375/.548 with 18 home runs and 53 RBI in 293 plate appearances. According to MLB’s Statcast, only Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge (96.7 MPH) has a higher average exit velocity than Sano (96.4 MPH).
Brian Dozier was the last member of the Twins to participate in the Home Run Derby. In 2014 at Target Field, Dozier failed to make it into the second round after hitting only two home runs. Justin Morneau is the only Twin to have ever won the Home Run Derby, as he beat Josh Hamilton 5-3 in the finals of the 2008 Derby at Yankee Stadium — although Hamilton out-homered him in total 35 to 22.