Besides being the hottest team in baseball, the Detroit Tigers have the season's fastest-starting hitter in rookie Barbaro Garbey, whose .476 batting average (through Wednesday) is unrivaled at this juncture of the 1984 season.
The more he bats, of course, the less likely the Cuban-born ex-outfielder is to maintain such a scorching pace. But Manager Sparky Anderson has used him sparingly, sending him to the plate only about half as often as a regular. Anderson has picked his spots for Garbey, sometimes playing him at first base, sometimes at third, and other times using him as a designated or pinch hitter.
The 27-year-old Garbey came to the US on the ''Freedom Flotilla'' in the spring of 1980. The Tigers signed him as an undrafted free agent that year, then sat back and watched as he batted .364, .286, .298, and .321 while moving up through the Detroit farm system during a somewhat troubled minor league career.