Player A or Player B

In classic Rob Neyer style, I present to you two players’ career statistics:

Player A 27 764 215 287 414 927
Player B 28 1248 227 283 360 935

Neither players’ offensive numbers are good, and the nobody is jumping up and down about their fielding percentages either. Player B is a marginally better contact hitter, but Player A has a respectable slugging percentage and is a year younger.

Player A was released and signed to a minor league contract by a small market team while Player B will be starting at third base for the Tigers.

By now of course you know that I am talking about Eric Munson and Brandon Inge.

I don’t bring this up to be negative. However, the Tigers defense was awful last year, and yet the one move that the Tigers made that is supposed to improve the defense is their new third baseman. This belief is basically a leap of faith. Inge didn’t produce significantly better numbers at third than Munson did.

Now last year Inge (.287/.340/.453)was far superior to Munson (.212/.289/.445) with the bat. However, Munson is the better hitter of the two through their first 750 at-bats. Inge’s offseason break out was unexpected given his meager performance in his first couple years. Who’s to say that a similar season isn’t still in store for Munson?

Now if you’re going to ask me if the Tigers made the right move in retaining Inge and letting Munson go, I’d say yes. With Inge you have a player that can competently play the infield, outfield, and is a fine defensive catcher. Munson was definitely limited to playing a corner infield position, and even then it was an adventure. Also, Munson had a little over a season to show he could play 3rd. Inge only had half a season. Inge is the superior athlete and will probably be significantly better than Munson at third both from a range and arm perspective.

Offensively I’m not quite as confident about the decision. I don’t expect Inge to go back to being a .200 hitter, but .287 is probably just as unlikely. I still think that Munson can be a solid hitter given regular playing time (which he’s still not in line to get in Minnesota). However, Inge was a better hitter when he wasn’t behind the plate last year. It was a pretty small sample size compared to his career numbers so I’m not sure what to make of it.

Keeping Inge over Munson on the roster was the right move. However, those who are counting on the Tigers being significantly better at third this year might want to temper those expectations.

Other Stuff:
-Just a reminder, I’ll be bowling for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America this weekend. If you’d like to sponsor me, please use the Paypal link in the side bar. I’d like to thank those that have contributed already.
-The Tigers signed the last 13 unsigned players on their 40 man roster. The team declined to comment on the amount of the contracts so I’ll do my best to update the payroll list this weekend. I’d expect the contracts to be between $300,000-$450,000 a piece (that’s the rate for the time spent on the 25 man roster).


  1. Boston Fan in Michigan

    March 3, 2005 at 12:26 am

    I still think that if Munson can get over his I’m-no-longer-a-catcher-woe-is-me thing and can get comfortable in the field, his hitting will go back up near what it was when he was still a promising young prospect. In that case, we’ll regret letting him go. But I don’t think he was ever going to get comfortable in the field in Detroit.

    I have some doubts about the Twins being able to maximize his potential too, though. So maybe it’ll work out alright in the end. Erm, for us, anyways. Sorry, Munson.

  2. Joe

    March 3, 2005 at 9:50 am

    Great article, It fealt like a Paul Harvey, the rest of the story, story. So this is why we tried to get Beltre. In other news I got MVP baseball for Playstation, obviously i started a season with the tigers and i traded Rondel White, Ugie Urbina, and Mike Maroth to the mets for Cameron and Victor Zambrano. that would be sweeeeet

  3. Tim D

    March 3, 2005 at 2:37 pm

    I tend to think Munson is what he is. He never hit for much average in the minors and he was never young for his level of play. He has some power and will take an occasional walk. He is useless against lefties and doesn’t have a position. He’s Rob Fick round 2. He may have a 25 HR 400 AB season in him but that’s probably the ceiling. As a LH hitting CATCHER he would have some value but as a 1B or poor 3B option he is going to have a hard time having much of a career.

    As you may recall I have been down on Inge for as long as he has been around. He really surprised me last year. Lots of players peak at 27-28 so we’ll see if Inge can duplicate his numbers. At last year’s level he isn’t much above a replacement level 3B. I don’t see that his D will be any vast improvement. He is a good utility player miscast as a regular (if he keeps hitting). Maybe he can hold down the position until they develop or acquire a better option. Hopefully Granderson will be ready to fill CF by the end of the year and they can concentrate on 3B for next year. I hear that scouts feel Granderson isn’t really a legit CF defensively, but he can’t be worse than Sanchez.

    The News this morning has a photo of Sanchez getting tagged out at 2B. In fairness I don’t know how it happened but I assume it was a CS. In the Freep Sanchez says: “I didn’t play too much baseball in Cuba,” said Sanchez, who defected in 1994. “Hitting, fielding, running the bases — I never had (instruction) like that in Cuba. I’m learning.” So it’s only been 10 years since then and he has been playing professional baseball the entire time. What a crock.

    I’m sorry to keep bashing Sanchez and Inge but they have better options and don’t realize it. Putting Martinez at SS and Guillen at 3B would improve the D w/out much offensive fall off. Plus they’d have Inge on the bench. If Sanchez ca hit .330, catch the routine balls, steal at a 70% success rate, not run into needless outs, not get picked off all the time, and take a walk twice a week he could be a useful player. it’s not going to happen. That’s why Milwaukee dumped him for nothing.

  4. Jason R.

    March 3, 2005 at 4:02 pm

    Well said, Tim. I read elsewhere the aforementioned pic was indeed Sanchez getting gunned down by a Division II catcher.

    Tram, you cant wish this guy into being a ballplayer. Drop him.

  5. Jeff M

    March 3, 2005 at 8:36 pm

    I’m not a Sanchez fan by any stretch, so I definitely hope they do something with CF, but what do you suggest for 3B? Inge may or may not prove to be an everyday player, but what other options do you see at this point in time. Trying to get>Trubyback??? 🙂

  6. Jeff M

    March 3, 2005 at 8:37 pm

    I’m not a Sanchez fan by any stretch, so I definitely hope they do something with CF, but what do you suggest for 3B? Inge may or may not prove to be an everyday player, but what other options do you see at this point in time. Trying to get Chris Truby back??? 🙂

    /sans html

  7. Ken

    March 4, 2005 at 12:12 pm

    Inge, from what I’ve read, is a better hitter when not catching, so that’s encouraging. He might be just hitting his stride. Defensively, he could be a liability, but I would much rather have him at 3B than the overhyped, overpriced, Beltre. Maybe Inge blossoms, maybe he’s Tom Brookens. But the Tigers won a championship with Brookens, so who knows?

    I haven’t seen a whole lot about Dmitri so far. A healthy Dmitri might be one of the real keys to the season.

  8. Tim D

    March 4, 2005 at 4:29 pm

    Check out John Sickels’ depressing take on the farm system at

  9. Michael

    March 4, 2005 at 7:56 pm

    Inge was substantially better at fielding 3B than Munson was and Inge might improve a bit more with experience. Fielding percentage isn’t that relevant in evaluating fielding. Compare the range factors and zone ratings at for example.

  10. Joe

    March 6, 2005 at 1:00 pm

    Maroth, White, Urbina, Slueth, for Cameron and Zambrano

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