Currently missing one of the best hitters in the world, how much power does the Detroit Tigers’ lineup currently punch? More important, does our usage need to change for DFS purposes in the way we target Detroit bats and/or is it safe to use pitchers against Detroit while Miggy is sidelined?
Vegas didn’t appear too concerned initially, projecting the Tigers to score 4.4 or more runs in the first three games that Cabrera missed. The Tigers answered the call, scoring eight, five, and 12 runs in those games. In fact, the Tigers are averaging 5.67 runs scored in games since Cabrera’s injury.
The Tigers have mainly been relying on Victor Martinez to pick up the slack, as he has slid into Miggy’s normal position in the order, batting third. Though Victor has been a disappointment in terms of season-long stats, he has had several good games recently and appears to be finding his groove at the perfect time. It also helps that the Tigers have found great production from the cleanup position. According to NBC Sports, the Tigers have two players within the top seven in the category “Cleanup SLG” for AL bats:
This can be confirmed on Fantasy Labs, which shows the Tigers have posted the best Plus/Minus for cleanup batters since June 1st. I’ll concede that is somewhat of an arbitrary starting point, but with Victor Martinez really struggling while batting fourth for the Tigers from the start of the season through late May when he hit the DL, I think this figure is meaningful.
Expanding the scope a little bit, the Tigers are also near the top of the Plus/Minus leaderboard when applying a “Lineup Order Is Between 1-4” filter sans-Cabrera. Not bad for a team that has been missing their best hitter.
Focusing on Cabrera, he has been at his best this season when facing a lefty, averaging very close to 10 DraftKings points per game with an excellent Plus/Minus rating:
Fortunately for the Tigers, they still have plenty of weapons to deploy against lefty pitching. Amazingly, Rajai Davis is averaging more raw points against lefties this season than Miguel Cabrera. His lower price point has also led to a massive Plus/Minus rating in this category. There are still very useful stacks to be made using Tiger bats against lefties, even without Cabrera.
Against righties, Detroit is similarly loaded. Excluding Cabrera removed a bat with a high raw average and a Plus/Minus over a full point, but as you can see, several other bats are hovering around the same area:
None of the above even accounts for Victor Martinez’s production since returning from the DL. As I mentioned, he has started to head up and, coupled with lower than usual pricing because of poor production in April and May, this has led to V-Mart crushing his point projections.
After looking over the bats, you wouldn’t expect pitchers to be especially successful against the Cabrera-less Tigers, and you would be correct. Checking in as the ninth worst matchup for starting pitchers on DraftKings over the season, the Tigers have climbed all the way up to number two since losing Cabrera:
They haven’t exactly had to face a murderer’s row of pitching during that time, but remember that Plus/Minus calculates value based on price point, so lower-priced pitchers would need to score fewer points to finish positively in Plus/Minus.
It’s unfortunate that Cabrera got hurt right when Victor Martinez was finally starting to return to form, but the Tigers are still a very well-rounded group of hitters. Their bats can still be confidently stacked when the matchup is right and it is still a lineup to avoid when considering starting pitchers in DFS.