Detroit Tigers: Pleasant surprises early on

Despite many uncertainties heading into the season, along with a handful of disappointments thus far, the Detroit Tigers have experienced some pleasant surprises in the early stages of the season. Here are a few:

Rajai Davis

The Tigers brought in Rajai Davis for two reasons; he has great speed and he can hit left-handed pitching. It was assumed that Andy Dirks would occupy left field when facing righties and Davis, who has struggled facing right-handed pitching, would be in the lineup against lefties.

Since Dirks has been placed on the disabled list during his recovery from back surgery, Davis has done a great job as the primary left-field starter.

Davis has split time between the leadoff position and as the ninth batter so far this season. He is leading the Tigers in batting average, hitting .353 (24-68), including a .352 average (19-54) against right-handed pitching. Davis also leads the club with a .416 on-base percentage.

Even at 33-years old, Davis is a constant threat to steal a bag once he is on base. He already has eight stolen bases this season, in 10 attempts.

Not only has Davis provided a spark at the top of the lineup, but he has shown to still have that sneaky power in his swing. He’s already hit two home runs this season, both over the deep walls of Comerica Park.

Austin Jackson

It was clear that Austin Jackson’s opportunity to be the Tigers’ leadoff hitter had expired when Detroit acquired Davis and Ian Kinsler. Many doubted his ability to hit behind the heart of the order and expected Jackson to be at the bottom of the order with Alex Avila.

However, Jackson has provided solid protection for the middle of the order.

He’s batting .314 (22-70), with two homers, and six doubles. A great start for a player who came into the season with a .277 batting average in the first month of the season.

A-Jax is also showing improvement with his patience at the plate. Entering 2014, Jackson averaged one walk for every 11.6 plate appearances in his career. To this point, Jackson has 10 walks on the year, which is one walk per 8.4 plate appearances.

Nick Castellanos

Detroit TigersNick Castellanos has been atop of the Tigers’ prospect rankings since he was drafted in 2010. He was able to get some playing time at left field in 2013, but he didn’t experience much success.

Once Miguel Cabrera shifted back to first base, Castellanos was able to move back to his natural position at third base.

Not only has he been a defensive upgrade from Miggy at third, he has been able to swing the bat at a consistent level in his first full month of playing in the majors.

Castellanos is batting .258 (17-66) on the year, but his average at Comerica Park (.295) is much higher than his average on the road (.182).

The 21-year old has hit three homers and driven in 13 runs thus far, he looks like he will be the Tigers third baseman for years to come.


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