Roundtable: Hot Start at the Plate?

Ready to talk Tigers? Want to hear the opinion of the TigsTown staff? Welcome to the TigsTown Roundtable! This week's question: What has been the key to the Tigers hot start this season at the plate?

Paul Wezner, Executive Editor

It would be rather simple to point out that players like Torii Hunter are hitting far better than their predecessors, and the Tigers still have some of the top offensive players in baseball like last year, including Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera. But to me, it's actually been more about creating opportunities by avoiding holes in the lineup. The proof is in the numbers. Last season, the Tigers hit a rather solid .285 with runners in scoring position en route to averaging 4.5 runs per game. And they did so averaging 9.8 plate appearances with runners in scoring position along with just over one home run per game. This year, the Tigers actually have seen their home runs per game drop (11 in 14 games) and their average with runners in scoring position drop nearly 30 points to .257. So how are the Tigers getting more runs (currently 5.4 runs per game)? Simple - by increasing their opportunities. The Tigers thus far are averaging over two additional plate appearances per game with runners in scoring position. More opportunities, which stems from good hitters and a better distributed lineup, ultimately produces more runs. And right now, the Tigers are just getting more opportunities to put runs on the board.

Mark Anderson, Managing Editor

The simple answer to this question is that the Tigers have a lot of really talented offensive players on their roster. It should not come as a surprise that players like Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder are off to hot starts. They are tremendously gifted players. Though it seems cliche, hitting is contagious. It becomes very easy to hit up and down the lineup when hitters are constantly getting on base and keeping the pitchers out of rhythm and focus. The Tigers are built to be an excellent offensive team and this type of start is precisely what should have been expected of them this season. With a multitude of offensive weapons the performance shown so far shouldn't be just a hot start. It should be a season long trend for a team that will be led by not only the offense, but the starting rotation as well.

Matt Buck, Staff Writer

The Detroit Tigers have been hot offensively this season, which is the biggest reason the team is off to an AL Central lead early in the season. A few players have been key in this hot start in different ways. Watching Austin Jackson develop his swing during his time in Detroit has been spectacular, as he's become more of a contact hitter and in turn more of a leadoff-oriented batter. Torii Hunter has proven to be one of the best free agency pickups of the last offseason as he currently leads the league in batting average and is tied for fourth in the American League in on base percentage. Jackson has been getting on base because he's improved his swing but also because having Hunter behind him in the lineup has encouraged pitchers to not pitch around Jackson, thus giving the center fielder more opportunities for contact. Although Miguel Cabrera is off to his usual start and Prince Fielder was arguably the best hitter in baseball during the first month of the season, Hunter has been the key for the Tigers coming out of the gate.

James Chipman, Lakeland Correspondent

It's no secret that the Tigers are off to a hot start at the plate this season. Collectively, Tigers' bats boast an MLB best .307 batting average and a .368 on-base percentage. Detroit has also done a good job hitting with runners on-base, posting an AL best .278 batting average. So, what specifically has been the key ingredient to the Tigers' early season success in the batters box? Hands down, the production from the table setters. Austin Jackson (.448 OB%) and Torii Hunter (.433 OB%) have done a wonderful job getting on-base. Their success is putting pressure on the opposition, forcing them to pitch to the meat of the Tigers' lineup. And when that happens, let's face it: Miguel will be Miguel and Prince will be Prince. The results have been a thing of beauty thus far. As a unit, Detroit's 1-through-4 hitters vaunt an MLB best .387 batting average, .449 on-base percentage and 51 RBI.

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