Whether it be who cracks the lineup or why he let ace Justin Verlander throw 131 pitches in a single outing in April, Leyland is consistently interrogated on a nightly basis.
Now in his seventh season as the Tigers' skipper, Leyland's moves have constantly caused the pendulum of public opinion to swing back and forth. His job has been called for more than once and yet he's still employed.
It's time to give the him the benefit of the doubt. He wouldn't reside in the Tigers' dugout if he was wasn't so highly respected. Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski and owner Mike Ilitch are too smart when it comes to baseball to have a raving lunatic running the show.
Sure, at one time or another Leyland's lineup moves have been questioned by every single Tigers fan out there. It's just the way it is, and it's the way it's going to be—and that's perfectly fine with Leyland. He's not here to appease the masses, but to win baseball games.
The 2012 Tigers' lineup fits Leyland's managerial personality perfectly. Everyone knows that it's unlikely that the he'll turn in the same lineup card on back-to-back days. In the past, it's seemed that Leyland closes the door to his office, takes off his hat and puts the names of his men in, shakes it up and selects his lineup for the night.
This season, it seems that he can't go wrong with that method of madness. The Tigers lineup is loaded with a supreme blend of All-Star caliber talent and reliable utility men. Yet, two weeks into the season and Leyland is catching guff from nearly everyone in Detroit for nearly everything he does.
For instance, it's evident that veterans Brandon Inge and Ryan Raburn struggle at the plate. In 43 combined plate appearances in this young season, they're batting a combined .161 with one homer and a lone RBI. Regardless, Leyland believes in them, and they will see the field more times than not.
Leyland likes to give his players random days off and make late-inning defensive switches. Inge and Raburn are just two of the many players that will see an inning or two at a time this season.
With Miguel Cabrera moving to third base this season due to the arrival of Prince Fielder, Leyland has to be happier than a kid on Christmas Day with all the lineup moves he could make on a daily basis. This year, he can afford to do so without any worries.
Another thing that's playing into the hands of Leyland this season is that the DH slot is a revolving door this season. Not to mention that Fielder or Cabrera could easily get some rest while keeping their bat fresh in that role.
With so many options, the Tigers are set to succeed in 2012 behind Leyland's baseball-riddled brain. Whatever the lineup may be on that particular day, embrace it.
Bottom line—the Tigers are one of the best teams in baseball, and there are five-plus months of baseball yet to be played. Expect the unexpected when it comes to Leyland, and learn to love it. It is what it is, and what it is is a winning formula.
When Leyland rides off on the shoulders of his men at season's end, "My Way" by Frank Sinatra should be playing in his head.