In classic Rob Neyer style, I present to you two players’ career statistics:
Age AB BA OBP SLG FPCT
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.
-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).