Tigers to start Young in left to keep bat in lineup

Tigers to start Young in left to keep bat in lineup

Tigers to start Young in left to keep bat in lineup
SAN FRANCISCO -- You didn't expect Tigers manager Jim Leyland to sit the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series, did you?

Well, he won't. So in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on FOX, with National League rules kicking in, Leyland will start designated hitter Delmon Young in left field at AT&T Park -- home to one of the most expansive outfields in all of baseball.

Young said he planned on taking fly balls during Tuesday's workout, but quipped: "We all look like Gold Glovers with fungoes."

World Series

The Tigers will be sacrificing defense, to be sure, but are hoping it pays off with Young continuing to come through in the No. 5 spot behind Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.

Young batted .353 (6-for-17) with two homers, two walks, three runs scored and six RBIs as the Tigers swept the Yankees in the ALCS, which concluded six days ago. In the process, he became the first player in history to knock in the run that put his team ahead for good in four straight postseason games.

Now Young -- all 240 pounds of him -- will make only his 30th start of the season at left field, and probably not his last. Giants manager Bruce Bochy is starting this series with back-to-back lefties -- Barry Zito and Madison Bumgarner -- which could push the right-handed-hitting Young to start Games 1 and 2 in left. Bumgarner also lines up to start Game 6, if the series comes back to San Francisco.

The fact Austin Jackson covers so much ground in center field certainly helps the cause, and Young's .833 OPS against lefties this season -- compared with his .649 OPS against righties -- probably gave Leyland extra incentive.

Quintin Berry, who starts in left field against righties, will be used as a pinch-runner in Game 1. Leyland still hasn't committed to his starting right fielder, but the splits against Zito point in favor of the young, right-handed-hitting Avisail Garcia over lefty Andy Dirks.

Young, of course, is no stranger to the outfield. He came up as a right fielder, was a full-time DH for the first time in his seven-year career this season and has started a combined 257 games in left field the last two years (in addition to nine of the Tigers' 11 playoff games in 2011). His Ultimate Zone Rating has been negative each of the last six years. It got as low as minus-19.4 in 2008, stood at minus-2.8 last season and was at minus-4.2 in limiting time in 2012.

But the offense he can provide is too important.

"I think it's pretty hard to [sit him], the way he's been swinging the bat," Leyland said recently. "He's the MVP of the American League Championship Series, and swinging the bat as well as he is, it would be pretty hard not to play him."