Despite not winning the World Series, Detroit Tigers‘ skipper Jim Leyland showed his true brilliance during the 2013 MLB Postseason, making a variety of unorthodox lineup changes that seemed to help his team prolong their stay.
Batting Miguel Cabrera, a man with 44 home runs, in the two hole, following outfielder Torii Hunter in the leadoff spot – all of these are commendable, and puzzling moves. But no move was more puzzling that reinstating formerly suspended shortstop Jhonny Peralta into the lineup – as a left fielder.
Peralta hit a staggering .417 in the American League Division Series, going 5-for-12 with one home run, 5 RBIs and a double. His numbers weren’t quite as impressive in the ALCS, but he still hit .286 with three doubles and an RBI.
But what about his defense? He’s a liability out there in left field. He’s a shortstop remember? Well, it’s not quite so cut-and-dry.
Left field, statistically speaking, is the least likely position to see a ball hit to it, according to Baseball Reference. In the 2013 regular season, left fielders had 9,349 chances, followed by right field (10,253), center field (12,630) and third base (12,902).
Yes, Peralta was a defensive liability. But by placing him in left field, Leyland minimized the risk while adding a much-needed bat to a Tigers’ lineup that had struggled mightily.