DETROIT -- Tigers manager Brad Ausmus insists he wasn't kidding when he mentioned Alex Avila last week as a candidate to bat second. How serious of a consideration Avila becomes, and how productive he can be there, might depend as much on the batter behind him, Miguel Cabrera.
Short of an RBI position, the two-hole is arguably the most valuable spot in the order. In theory, the fear of another runner on base for Cabrera creates an opportunity for Detroit's two-hitter to see more strikes. Torii Hunter, who split time there last season after garnering most of the starts there in 2013, saw two of his four highest strike percentages the last two years. Correspondingly, his walk rates the last two seasons are the lowest of his 18-year Major League career.