Inge gets a new deal – is he worth it?

The Tigers appear close to a long term contract with Brandon Inge. The deal is believed to be for 4 years and $24 million. This certainly seems like a reasonable deal for the Tigers, even before taking into account the current free agent landscape. The Tigers don’t have anyone in the minors knocking down the door to play third, so he won’t block anybody for awhile.

Inge has posted OPS+’s of 108, 100, and 99 over the last 3 years. So he’s pretty much a league average offensive player at a position that typically is above average offensively, making him a little below average with the bat.

American League third sackers hit 269/338/442 while Inge hit 253/313/463 last year. I’d love more OBP, but he does compensates somewhat with extra power. He’s 29 so I don’t expect much improvement at this point, but given his body type and athleticisism I also think that level of production is sustainable for the length of the contract. While the article says the intention is for Inge to play third throughout the contract, there is also the added bonus that if the Tigers can’t find a replacement for Pudge Rodriguez, Inge is certainly equipped to fill that need as well.

But of course the lightning rod of Brandon Inge discussions always focuses on defense. Detractors will look at the high error total and say he isn’t any good. That he makes some spectacular plays but that doesn’t make up for the easy ones. Proponents of Inge’s defense – like myself – will say that even with the errors he still saves more than enough runs to make up for the minor deficiencies in his offense. And so we’ll do that again here.

Turning to the Probabilistic Model of Range, Inge ranked near the top of all Major League third basemen. (PMR looks at the rate at which fielders turn ball put in play into outs while adjusting for the type of hit, where it was hit, and handedness of batter and pitcher) Inge made 26 more plays than expected. This is includes all those errors on plays he didn’t make. Using a value of .80 runs for each play made means that Inge saved the Tigers 20.8 runs with his glove which is more than enough to make up for the slight deficiency with his bat.

As a little more proof, other advanced defensive metrics agree with Pinto. Inge came out on top in the AL in Chris Dial’s sytem. Dial had Inge saving 20 runs per 150 games played. In the Bill James Handbook John Dewan listed the +/- leaders at each position. (the +/- system involves people watching every single play and giving credit based on whether or not others had made a similar play, a +/- of 0 means you’re average) Inge led all third basemen here as well with a +27.

Whether or not Inge is the best third basemen in the AL can be debated. Whether he is one of the best can not. Inge’s bat didnt’ earn him the contract. But his combined value with the glove and his versatility certainly did.

31 thoughts on “Inge gets a new deal – is he worth it?”

  1. Inge is the man. People who just look at the numbers see the errors and think he is no good. But those of us that watch every game know how good he really is. I’ll take Brandon on the team anyday.

  2. It’s worth it. You are not going to get a free agent for that, that’s for sure. Besides, I think he does a great job at third. But with Inge at 29 and Pudge in his mid 30’s, the tigers better start looking for young talent at those positions or they could be hurting in a few years.

  3. I think the price is just right if not somewhat of a bargain. His O is probably a bit below average for his position and His D is quite a bit above average for his position. To me that makes him some what above average. According to the work that Tango has done, and average player should get 4/$22.

  4. I’m happy about this. Inge has been my favorite Tiger for last several years. If he stays strong, I’d love to see him play out his career with Detroit.

  5. Looks like a very nice deal as long as Inge can maintain his current level of offensive production. If he moves to C later and still maintains the production it is a great deal.

  6. I’m very happy to see Inge re-signed. He’s a local hero in his hometown of Lynchburg, Va., near where I live in Blacksburg (home of the Virginia Tech Hokies). So it’s great to have a hometown boy on my favorite team, the Tigers. He’s my man.

  7. I’m a fan. I’d like some more consistancy at the plate(at least a reduced K count), but I’m with others in praising his glove. $6M a season might be a tad steep for him. Still, I like the length of the deal. And considering the going rate for ANY player these days, it’s probably a bargain.

  8. Good deal. I really don’t see how you could watch the Tigers regularly and not think Inge’s fielding is a major asset to the team.

  9. Good, Inge is the backbone of this team.

    Now, when are we going to hear they locked up Bonderman?????

    ….the longer this goes, the more worried I get.

  10. The price is reasonable, considering what’s available out there, but as someone who’s watched Inge from his days in West Michigan and nearly every Tiger game, Inge is horribly over-rated in my mind for the love that so many give him.
    His main attributes are likability and athleticism.
    I’d like this much better if he was still a utility player and was re-signed at a lower cost.

  11. I think this is a good signing.

    Those that wish he were signed for less are losing sight of the big picture. Most would agree that Inge is an average thirdbaseman and he signed a basically average contract. What’s the point of whining about a few million that could have been saved if the Tigers played hardball? That could have generated a lot of hard feelings. The bottom line is that this contract is so reasonable that it doesn’t limit their flexibility in the future.

  12. he would have made at least 5 mil in arbitration this year, so we essentially bought his age 30-32 seasons for 6 mil/year, which really is chumpchange in this market. If inge has another year like 06 next year, and he’s a free agent he stands to pick up 8/year over a few years from someone.

    I like inge as much as the next guy, people who point to his number of errors don’t know a damn thing about baseball (and probably think jeter’s a good fielder). His defense saves 20 runs a year: if a pitcher throws 200 innings, saving 20 runs takes him from a 3.60 era to a 2.70 era.

    Plus I like keeping inge on the team since he was working hard with the team in the bad old days, and is kind of a symbol, in my mind, of the team’s attitude and evolution.

  13. Brandon Inge is the most over-hyped player on the Tigers. We always hear of his great athleticism, but he has become a “jack of all trades, master of none.”

  14. Brandon Inge is the most over-hyped player on the Tigers. We always hear of his great athleticism, but he has become a “jack of all trades, master of none.”

  15. Really, Rasheed?

    Watching other 3B field their position is equivalent to watching Inge playing in slow motion with his leg in a bear trap. Only one other 3B in the AL has the game-changing leather/arm combo that Inge does — Crede — that’s it! That makes him, at the very least, a master of one. You can tear up his plate approach all you want, but if you watch him play everyday, like I have, you can’t rip his D. I still can’t get over how he loves the high heat, though…

  16. We all agree, Inge is probably the best defensive 3rd baseman I’ve ever seen. Who would you pick that’s better? Maybe Brooks Robinson…know what, Brandon has more range. Maybe George Kell, know what, Brandon has a better arm.

    Don’s math is flawed. He suggests that saving 20 runs over 200 inning would… except that Inge doesn’t save 20 runs over 200 innings, he saved 20 runs over 1400 innings. The drop in ERA is more like 4.50 to 4.37.

    The real bonus is when you add Rodriguez, Polanco, Guillen, and Granderson (I would also add Monroe to that list) doing similar things with the glove. That is why the pitching looks so good.

  17. I am happy for Mr. Inge and for the Tigers. He’s been there through it all and seems to have improved every year. Based on what I read, he is also a positive in the club house and that seems to mean something. I think it is a good thing.
    I do hope they get Mr. Bonderman locked up for a few years.

    J Paul Muxworthy
    Fort Worth, TX

  18. Coach jim: my math wasn’t flawed, you assumed a conclusion based on my math that wasn’t intended. I was only trying to illustrate the value of 20 runs over a year: if you give all the saved runs to one pitcher over 200 innings (which obviously doesn’t happen) his era drops from 360 to 270. obviously, your math is just as correct, I was just presenting it in the context of a single starting pitcher to emphasize the value of runs saved.

  19. Just a few thoughts on Inge……I love his ability and you cant say this isnt a bargain for a 3rd baseman who hit as many home runs as he did last year. But at the same time I would love to see him at SS. A lot of his errors this year came on the throw and I think those would be eliminated with a move to SS (which is his natural position in the first place) Either way errors arent his biggest flaw he is by far one of the best 3rd baseman in the league. His main flaw is his strikeouts and hitting in key situations. I think he will show improvemant on both of these this coming year.

  20. I think Inge would be fantastic on another team. One that has a few players who work the count and get on base. Also, a team with a bit more run production at 1B.

    I’ve always like Brandon a lot. However, when he bats ninth, after 8 other guys who don’t work the count and don’t get on base, and he takes that gigantic bat up to the plate and hacks until he Ks, I can get pretty frustrated with him. And then Curtis comes up. And I get even more frustrated with him.

    There isn’t a player on the Tigers who I don’t see some real value in individually (other than Neifi of course), but I worry that we’re not addressing certain glaring problems. Keeping Inge is a great move if we eventually add a few players who balance out his (and other Tigers) free swinging ways.

  21. Don, that doesn’t “emphasize the value,” it distorts it. I like the signing, but would rather see Bondo get locked up.

  22. c’mon greg, ‘distort’? if you don’t understand, it’s ok, but don’t disparage unless you plan on offering some sort of reasoning.

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