En-Inge-matic

by billfer on August 20, 2007 · 33 comments

in 2007 Season,Players

Coming off a 3rd straight frustrating loss, Jim Leyland announced that Ryan Raburn would be the starter over a struggling Brandon Inge. With Inge’s recent play, and Craig Monroe’s departure, Brandon has taken over the role of the Tiger that people love to hate. And with statements like the following, he isn’t exactly endearing himself to the fanbase.

“I can’t explain it,” said Inge, batting .242 with 12 home runs and 56 RBIs. “I’m getting pitched like I’m Babe Ruth. Everything is on the corner. I haven’t seen a ball in the middle of the plate for a week.”

Inge is the Tiger that spurs the most polarized debate. Inge bashers point to his high error total and low batting average and advocate for more offense from a power position. Inge defenders point to his exceptional range, his power, and his role as a number 9 hitter. For the first time since Pudge Rodriguez assumed regular catching duties, it is getting harder to find people in Inge’s camp.

Myself, I’m somewhere in the middle. I was a proponent of his contract. I looked at his 265/327/443 line in 2004-2006 and viewed it as a new level of performance. It was (and still is) a far cry from his career numbers up to that point, a meager 198/254/314. line. And coming off a season in 2006 where the the average AL third sacker hit 269/338/442, he was certainly close to average for the position offensively.

What made the contract solid to me is that Inge’s defense is top shelf. Yes he has the errors, but he also rated at or near the top in other more advanced metrics like the probabilistic model of range and John Dewan’s +/ system (both of which account for his errors, and he still ranked high). Three different systems placed his defensive value in the neighborhood of 20 runs, which combined with near average offense makes for an above average player.

Because those 2004-2006 seasons coincided with his age 27-29 peak seasons, I didn’t expect Inge to improve on those numbers. But given his athleticism and body type I also anticipated that he would be able to maintain similar numbers in the near future without a dramatic dropoff. The fact that he had OPS+’s of 108, 100, and 99 in those years mean he was reasonably consistent over that time and it wasn’t a single peak year spiking the numbers.

With all that said, 2007 has been a major disappointment – or at least parts of it. Inge’s season can really be broken down into 3 parts, 2 of which were largely forgettable. He struggled mightily in April, was very productive in May and June, and has looked more like 2003 Inge since the beginning of July.
Inge’s Walks and Strikeouts

Early in the year when Inge was struggling, he was at least drawing walks and hitting for some power with a .163 ISO. He was fanning quite a bit, but that’s part of what you get with Inge. He also was probably battling some bad luck as his batting average on balls in play was very low.
Inge’s batted ball types

In the second act Brandon continued to draw walks a pretty good clip, and he really cut down in his strikeouts. For a 2 month stretch he was a very good player, and a big part of the Tigers offensive surge. His season line on June 25th was 259/356/453 which is quite solid. And then July happened.

The first thing that happened is Inge stopped taking walks. That was right about the same time his line drive percentage plummeted and shortly there after he started to strikeout at a ridiculous rate. A trend that is still underway and manifested itself this past weekend in New York. He’s walked 5 times since July 1st and his on base percentage has plummeted with it. He has 9 extra base hits over that timespan and his slugging percentage is now south of .400.

What is odd is that he’s actually maintained his batting average on balls in play, and as of late the line drive rate is on the way back up. In fact for the season his line drive rate is at 22.4% which is the highest mark of his career, and vastly superior to his 14% last year. And yet his numbers are way down because he can’t put the ball in play.

What about his fielding? I see mixed results. Despite the error this weekend, his fielding percentage is right in line with his career numbers. And if you look at revised zone rating he is second only to Mike Lowell, and he’s made more plays on ball outside of his zone than third baseman except for Adrian Beltre. But his impact defensively isn’t what it was last year, and I attribute that in large part to Kenny Rogers absence. Rogers induced a ton of grounders, and as a lefty the bulk went in Inge’s direction.

As someone who has been an Inge defender in the past I did it based on near average offensive production, combined with stellar defense. Now I’m looking at a player who is far below average at the dish and merely good in the field. I’ll still defend Inge to those who say he is a garbage player, but I can’t defend his production where it is at right now. When it comes to the benching, I think there is probably a little too much being made of it. I could be wrong, but I don’t see it as an extended time period. The Tigers just made two moves to bolster the defense in bringing up Cameron Maybin (I’m not saying this one is working, but it was part of the intention) and Ramon Santiago and if that’s the emphasis then swapping Ryan Raburn and Brandon Inge doesn’t make a lot of sense. If there is a platoon it may be based on who the Tigers are starting. If it’s Miller or Robertson I’d look for Inge, but the right handed guns I’d look for Raburn.

And back to Inge’s original quote about being pitched to like Babe Ruth…Maybe it’s worth pointing out that Ruth walked over 2000 times in his career. I’m just sayin…

For Inge data see:

 
 

{ 33 comments }

Eric Jackson August 21, 2007 at 12:06 am

Nice post Billfer, I agree with you; his play right now is hard to defend. I do see this as being different than defending his contract and future on the team. Something I do support.

Ryan Raburn’s success thus far has changed quite a bit on the team. It allowed them to take a risk with Maybin. It gave them a bench player who can play 2nd, 3rd, LF, CF or RF and continue to add punch to the lineup. Not viable at short; this lead to the Omar option and Santiago call up.

At the same time Raburn’s long-term viability in the big leagues is still very much in question. He is beyond a Brent Clevlen fluke but he won’t bat .350 w/ .570 SLG with regular at-bats either, also notice how free-swinging he has been; 3 walks total.

His replacement of Inge at third will hopefully allow some time for Inge to work out of this slump. The Tigers don’t have another option but to get Inge back in order. Their defense has declined this year and has been part of the problem and this isn’t only due to Brandon. They are better with him in lineup and at third base.

David August 21, 2007 at 12:14 am

I understand everything of what you’re saying, and agree with most but…

1) As far as money goes for third baseman he is nothing short of a bargain.

Rodriguez 27.71
Beltre 12.90
Glaus 11.5 (was INJURED)
Chavez 9.5
Lowell 9.00
Mora 7.76
Crede 4.94 (OUT FOR SEASON)
INGE 4.90
Blaylock 4.80 (OUT FOR SEASON)
Blake 3.75
Chone Figgins 3.50 (was INJURED)
Iwamura 1.80 (ROOKIE)
Punto 1.80 (would you rather have him? .204BA 20RBI, .560 OPS)
Gordon .38 (ROOKIE)

So that would make him 8/14 out of the 6 guys below him 2 are rookies, 1 played 39 games (Blaylock), 1 is struggling with the stick almost as much (Blake) and another is a liability on defense (Figgins).

2) As an Inge defender I point not only to his exceptional range, but to the gun he carries around, his pop and his ability to work a pitcher even if he Ks in the end.

3) Go look at his mlb.com page and look at all the plays he made, most of them esp. from 06 and 05 were in very crucial situations and really fueled our momentum.

IMO baseball and life to some extent is all mental and about momentum and confidence.

If you look at our offense when it was clicking earlier in the year it was because Shef. was hot for along time and it helped Ordonez AND Polanco see better pitches which also helped Grandy and Guillen etc.

Also, last year and even this year when a Bondo or Verlander or Kenny or Nate etc. pitches a gem, a gem usually follows it up. That’s why players go on streaks. One great performance fuels another.

Right now we are on a bad streak and it keeps going because it feeds off of itself to some extent.

Inge last year and even this year with his defensive plays would make the other team say to itself “What to I have to do to get a hit around here?”

As Ty Cobb the great psychologist once said
Baseball is “Not unlike a war. If we cannot only beat them but run wild on them in addition, treat them like a bunch of bush leaguers, it is liable to put them up in the air for a week.”

Inge’s slump at the dish is feeding off of itself I think. Similar to what Shelton had a year ago, or what Bondo has now in the 1st inning etc. And the opposite is happening with Ordonez.

The one thing I wish Inge would do, and Monroe would have done before he was canned was to go to Polanco ask to borrow his smaller bat. Then have Polanco change their hitting approach just to putting the ball in play. Maybe teach it to Hessman also.

The thing he said about being pitched like he was Babe Ruth was a dumb thing to say, but it was probably out of frustration.

Joey C. August 21, 2007 at 12:20 am

Great post billfer.

Sam August 21, 2007 at 12:43 am

Someone needs to break his toe again. He stayed so within himself right after breaking the toe (not overstridding). He is now back to his old self trying to jack every ball out of the park.

-Sam

Anthony August 21, 2007 at 1:35 am

Inge ranks 20th out of 23 3rd basemen in OPS that are qualified for a batting title.

I’ve never really liked him, and he and Monroe have been my anti-tigers for years (I’m not just jumping on a bandwagon with this) I do think, however, in order for the Tigers to win he needs to be respectable offensively. I think there is only a minuscule chance Rayburn could take the job, so it really is up to Inge and nobody else. We’re going to see what he is truly made of very soon.

His contract is OK. I personally hope they find a better 3rd baseman, and at 6 million per, he’ll be very tradeable.

BTW Blake is 80 points higher in OPS, and has 30 less strikeouts in 70 more at bats. He’s not struggling like Inge is. Blake is right now what Inge should be shooting for offensively. We could live with that.

BobS. August 21, 2007 at 9:24 am

The shuffling of players and positions suggests a desperation well beyond the fine tuning a contender should be doing at the end of August.

ez August 21, 2007 at 10:04 am

Bilfer,

Very nice post. Very even handed. As a certified Inge Hater I give you credit for an excellant post. Very well done, sir. As always we tend to disagree on the value of his defense, but for a change we are closer than we have ever been to agreement about his defense. Of course, that probably is no consolation to you :) .

Anthony,

Well said about Blake. I completely agree. If Inge hit like Blake then we wouldn’t be having this conversation as often as we do, if at all.

David,

1) Being 8/14 in salary in no way justifies or apologizes for Inge’s play. 20 million or 20 dollars a season, right now it doesn’t matter. What matters is Inge leading the league in strikeouts, being 17th in the AL for 3rd basemen in BA and OPS (min 80 games played), leading AL 3rd basemen in errors, decreased range factor and horrible fielding percentage. Discuss his salary after the season. Right now we are in the playoff race and saleries don’t effect the outcomes of games.

2) What “pop”? Look at his slugging percentage, or that he is 9th among 3rd baseman in HR’s. Right now his only “pop” is the sound of strike 3 hitting the catchers glove. Great arm sure, I agree. But he still leads 3rd basemen in errors. His arm didn’t help him on that wicket shot on Sunday. Though he does tend to save routine wear and tear on his arm when he touches third when there is no force play. “His ability to work a pitcher even if he K’s in the end”? Are you defending his strikeouts by saying he makes the pitcher tired? Wow. Truly wow.

3) Looking at individual plays is observational. You will note I used observation earlier by mentioning him tagging third without a force and getting that wicket shot. Another observation play to point out is Inge getting picked off third by a throw from catcher to pitcher. You have to be extra special stupid to fall for that. I have never seen it in 30 years of watching baseball. Yeah, he makes highlight plays, but he also makes blunders like no other major leaguer I have seen. Your “crucial plays” argument is obsevational nonsense. I can retort with another observational “lack of crucial play” argument. Of the last 7 home runs Inge hit last year, 6 came after the 6th inning and after the Tigers were either up or down by 4 runs. Creaming late inning pitches in games already decided by bad relief pitching is a great way to pad your stats and show you have “pop”, but really only shows he choked down the stretch. The last meaningful home run Inge hit was on or about August 7th last year against Santana. After that it was “Rob Deer” mop up homers only. This during a playoff run where we ultimately had to settle for the wild card. If you don’t like this argument, then throw it out. But then you would also have to throw out your “crucial plays fueled momentum” nonsense.

Inge has followed up with his Ruth comments with even more stupid ones today in the Detroit News.— “I feel better than I ever have,” he said, “but everything is dead on the corner. I’m seeing 3-2 change-ups, 3-2 splitters, 3-2 sliders. I can’t explain it, but I’d tell you if I didn’t feel good at the plate.

“I’ve looked at film and these pitches they’re throwing me, Ted Williams would have a hard time with.

“If I just felt bad,” said Inge, “and I wasn’t seeing them, that’s one thing. But I am seeing them.”

“I’m fouling a lot of those back,” Inge said, “but I’ll stick with it.”—-

OMG, just shut up Brandon. You are not seeing dead fastballs down the middle of the plate? Boo hoo. You must have really gotten used to bad relief pitching when you were clipping all of those meaningless home runs last year. Welcome to the bigs, I know it is shocking to face pitchers who are actually trying to get you out. For your information, Brandon, Ted Williams tended to swing at strikes and take balls. Try it sometime, you’ll find that it works. You’re fouling off balls? Great accomplishment. There is a feather in your cap. Stop making excuses, you look just silly.

Inge richly deserves benching. He deserves demoting (thanks for mentioning Shelton, he was demoted for hitting BETTER than Inge has all year). Unfortunately, there is no replacement available this year, so we will continue to watch Inge flounder at the plate and kill inning after inning. But who knows, maybe he will pull out of it a bit in September? Stranger things have happened. Like getting picked off of 3rd on a throw from catcher to pitcher….

Mike R August 21, 2007 at 10:42 am

Well done, Billfer.

He’s not as good as his defense last season, but his 06 year was easily the best defensive year I’ve seen from a player in my young baseball watching life. He’s still above-average defensively but he’s hit his way into a platoon role. I like the idea of when Miller/Nate Rob on the mound he’s at 3rd, the rest of the time Raburn’s there.

Kathy August 21, 2007 at 11:16 am

I’ve had to keep my mouth shut for 2 days because my modem took a dump. Ugh! Almost went nuts.

Billfer, thank you for the graphs. Since finding this blog I’ve learned so much more about baseball than just my 50 + years of watching baseball and it’s just pure pleasure reading everyone’s comments and opinions. The invitation to be challenged and think analytically has added immense pleasure to my life.

EZ sums it up very nicely. I wish Inge would just stop making excuses for himself (the Babe Ruth thing) and fess up that he’s struggling. I’d respect him alot more than staying in denial.

While everyone thinks removing Inge for a day is a big deal, I don’t really see it like that unless Rayburn can actually field the position and hit! Inge does play defense well most times and has a strong arm, but his “senior moments” errors as I call them are inexcusable.

Rings August 21, 2007 at 11:31 am

A very nice, well-thought-out post, Bilfer.

I find it interesting that Inge’s defenders are citing things like “salary ranking,” “pitches seen,” and an anecdotal accounting of “great plays,” “rocket arm,” etc.
…whereas his critics rely on the bit-more-mainstream “batting average,” “OPS,” “strikeouts,” “errors,” and “fielding percentage” in their critiques.

While commendable in their research, they’re looking awfully hard to find a bit of rose to color the glasses.

As mentioned by EZ-E above, Shelton was banished to the minors for hitting MUCH better than Inge. In fact, since they’ve been professionals (major or minor leagues), Inge only has ONE season (.287 in 2004) where he’s hit better than Shelton’s worst performance (.271 in 2006). They both came up as catchers and they both play corner defensive positions now. These are apples and oranges because of Inge’s perceived (and debatable) defensive value, but it does illustrate how poorly Inge has done versus the support he receives, when another guy – Shelton in this case – received boat-loads of criticism, and banishment, for lesser sins because he’s not as athletic.

BobS. August 21, 2007 at 11:33 am

You make a good case,ez.I vote guilty as charged.
It might be more appropriate for Inge to be comparing himself to Mendoza and Perez(Neifi,not Tony)than Ruth and Williams.
Perhaps it’s him commenting here pseudnonymously touting Granderson as the next Mays or Kaline.Of course,it goes without saying that Maybin is the next Frank Robinson or Hank Aaron.

Vince in MN August 21, 2007 at 11:45 am

Wow, great thread today!

Bilfer, thanks for all the work setting it up.

In fact, thanks for the site, period. Your thoughtful, energetic and nicely balanced approach has made this blog a pleasure to read day after day. Besides the provision of many valuable links, more importantly, you have managed to engage a significant number of intelligent, lively and articualte responders, while somehow magically minimizing the puerile backbiting/namecalling feuds that have driven me away from other sites in the past. Even if our boys don’t make it to the playoffs this year, this season has been more fun for me even than last year because of the depth of the dialogue here. Hopefully the high quality will continue.

As far as Inge goes, I have to agree with ez. I can’t add much to his eloquent analysis, except to point out that Inge tends to be a “streak” hitter, so perhaps there is a chance that he will recover in the last month of the season and prove to be a help rather than a hindrance. However, his bad streaks tend to last longer than the good ones and it seems to me that he will always regress to the .240BA, high K player that mot of us are complaining about.

Vince in MN August 21, 2007 at 11:53 am

Right after the trade for Sheffield, a lot of folks were afraid that Gary’s mouth would create a lot of turbulence. Who would have thought that Brandon Inge’s mouth would cause even more?

Mike R August 21, 2007 at 11:58 am

I will say, ez, on the Inge being picked off 3rd by Clemens starts with the bench. Leyland was having him run if Posada were to throw down to 2nd, which is looked like he was going to. I think it’s more a heady play by a veteran catcher and pitcher than anything else.

Also, as Billfer’s pointed out, despite his decreased range factor, in may of the defensive categories he’s still among the top in the AL. Does that defend his bat? Absolutely not. But to simply point to only the fielding percentage and the errors is to ignore all the other numbers, like being 2nd in the AL among 3B in revised range factor, being tied (last I checked) with Adrian Beltre for most plays made outside of his defensive zone — like Billfer’s alluded to. But we cannot make up for Casey and Inge’s lack of a potent bat at a corner infield spot. It’s got to be one or the other.

Jim August 21, 2007 at 12:09 pm

Great post Bilfer.

I’m still an Inge supporter fwiw

Ryan S August 21, 2007 at 3:05 pm

Sam makes a really interesting point. Not that we should rebreak Inge’s toe (though I think EZ might volunteer for that duty), but that maybe he’s trying to be a player he’s not (ie. not playing within himself). That injury pretty much coincided with his most productive part of the season, right? It would be my guess that a player would be more focused on just putting the bat on the ball when not playing at 100% strength. But it seems that Brandon has bigger ideas about his offensive abilities. His recent statements to the press suggest someone a little out of touch with reality (Ruth? Williams?). I thought a similar thing about Monroe all year. Both these guys had above average seasons (for themselves) last year, both with career highs in HRs. It’s like they both came into this year thinking they were going to take that power to an even higher level (an unrealistic expectation), and in the process have just looked foolish at the plate a lot of the time.

I’m very into the statistical element of many these arguments. But I’m equally interested in the psychological aspect. I think if Brandon saw the situation clearer, he might have a prayer of being a player we could all be comfortable with at 3B. If he could see that the true problem is his propensity to swing at bad pitches and would work on that, he might start to see he fortunes change.

Someone said this above, but I’ll reiterate. Ted Williams wouldn’t have hit those off the corner pitches because Ted Williams wouldn’t have swung at those pitches.

David August 21, 2007 at 5:44 pm

EZ

1) His salary sure as heck does reflect Inge’s play. Dombrowski obviously though as well as a few Tiger fans that he was worth it based on his service time, work in the field AND at the plate. If they were to go after a “better 3rd baseman” he would probably cost quite a bit more and for significantly more return?

There are only 3 third baseman with significantly more RBIS and each one gets paid at least 2x as much

2+3) Those two plays are very abnormal for Inge to anyone who has every watched the Tigers. ALSO HE IS 7th IN ALL OF MLB IN PITCHES/PA at 4.30 that makes your “sound of strike 3 hitting the catchers glove.” moot. BTW Mike R is right it was Leyland’s call not Inge’s, Clemens and Posada are no dummies.

Also, Inge has 2 walk off HRs this season, wait that isn’t clutch? Please define clutch then…

I also defended him after he had his 0-20 to start the season and soon after that he went on a tear.

Their are THREE reasons people are jumping on Inge

1) Because we haven’t been winning.
2) Because Monroe is no longer their whipping boy.
3) Because of his dumb comments.

And the most important one is because we haven’t been winning. I can guarantee you that to play like we have after the break it hasn’t been Inge’s entire fault, not by an L ONG SHOT.

OVER THE LAST 30 days, 4 hitters have STUNK INGE, PUDGE, CASEY and SHEFFIELD all with OBP under .290

Couple that with
Robertson 1-4 6.57ERA
Bonderman 0-5 8.41 ERA
Durbin 0-3 8.27ERA
GRILLI 6.19 ERA
TATA 7.71 ERA
MILLER 8.56ERA
MINER 5.84 ERA
McBride 8.10 ERA etc.

Collective team ERA over 6
And around 4.7 RS/G

Now if you can somehow prove that all of that or most of that or half of that or a quarter of that was Inge’s fault, you can’t.

Sure he has stunk at the dish but so have others

And I’m sure he will pull out of it

OH and BTW he very quietly had an 1105 OPS against the A’s last year in the ALCS (slightly lower than the MVP -POLANCO) and an 860 OPS in the WS against the Cards (THIRD ON THE TEAM). I guess those aren’t clutch or important either?

stephen August 21, 2007 at 6:13 pm

Man, never has so much time been spent debating the merits of someone so mediocre. I’m not sure anyone is arguing that Inge’s crummy play is completely responsible for the Tigers’ slide, but there’s something poetically illogical to suggesting that Inge, who is hitting exactly at his lifetime average, will get hot and pull out of his slump.
.242 is as .242 does.
Here’s the 10 batters most similiar career-wise to Inge according to baseballreference.com. Enough said.
1. Ted Lepcio (968)
2. Jason LaRue (966)
3. Rick Wilkins (963)
4. Eli Marrero (960)
5. Dale Sveum (958)
6. Scott Servais (955)
7. Duke Sims (953)
8. Ozzie Virgil (953)
9. Alex Kampouris (952)
10. Gene Oliver (950)

T Smith August 21, 2007 at 6:30 pm

David:

I have to give you points. You are one tenacious Inge supporter. And while I appreciate your diehard passion, pesky rebuttals, and the discussion it evokes here — come clean, man. I think after this thread the cat’s outta the bag. You’re really Brandon Inge’s press agent, right? Or Brandon Inge’s publicist?

I applaud your tenacity (or work ethic). How much does that gig pay?

T Smith August 21, 2007 at 6:59 pm

Kyle J:

I hear what your saying. But a more honest thing to say (and I don’t think it takes a profound amount of self reflection or keen awareness of the slump he’s in) would be something like:

“… my eye could be better, so I haven’t been seeing good pitches to hit…I need to work on re-establishing a hitter’s strike zone and make them pitch to me to get an out, instead of allowing them to pitch around me to get an out…”

That exactly sums up his slump, and that’s essentially what he said — he just chose the most idiotic way to express it known to a professional athelete with an IQ over 100. (And I am by no means implying Brandon Inge is stupid).

Had Inge said something along those lines, no one that I know would have been bashing him for his comments. It would at least acknowledge that he knows what the issue is, is conscious of the issue, and is making the necessary mental adjustments to work his way through the slump.

The way he went about his press conference, however, I’m just not entirely convinced he’s even aware what the problem is. He’s just confounded (he as much said so) and clueless. That doesn’t bode well, as far as I see it, for a recovery.

billfer August 21, 2007 at 7:02 pm

I’m not sure anyone is arguing that Inge’s crummy play is completely responsible for the Tigers’ slide, but there’s something poetically illogical to suggesting that Inge, who is hitting exactly at his lifetime average, will get hot and pull out of his slump.
.242 is as .242 does.

I couldn’t disagree more. Inge had a clear shift in his performance level when he moved away from full time catching and looking at an average across both portions of his career is hardly accurate.

I don’t expect him to get hot, but I do expect him to hit closer to his 265/327/443 line over the last 3 years than I do for him to maintain his current pace.

David August 21, 2007 at 9:13 pm

Yep you caught me…

Since 04 Inge Guillen and Maroth had been my Tigers

Rings August 21, 2007 at 11:12 pm

Bilfer – your point on his post-catching offensive performance is true…but also slightly inaccurate, because it takes into account his best BA season, when he hit .287 (2004).

It’s a number he’s never approached since. Remove that year and he’s .253 with 395 K’s over the past 2.5 seasons.

His strong 2004 season was the result of pitchers challenging a guy who came into the season with a .201 lifetime average…to wit: he saw a lot of hittable fastballs. Once he established he could handle it at a more reasonable pace than his previous history, teams started to actually “pitch” to him…the result: a steadily decline in performance. (.261-.253-.242 since)

The K’s are the most frustrating part of his performance, because, especially for a #9 hitter, he so often fails to have productive AB’s: move the runner, put the ball in play, etc. He’s simply killing rallys and doing nothing to set the table for the top of the order.

He’s a good athlete, but he’s very, very fortunate to have received so many at-bats in his career as it is. Most teams – had they not suffered 321 losses in first three third seasons(and 119 in his third year) – would have released him by his third straight season of hitting under .205 and you’d never had heard from him again. This unreasonable affection for “Darling Brandon” is both unwarranted and nauseating.

David: are you really resorting to “Pitches seen/plate appearances” as your best defense at this point? The more you try to argue his abysmal performance, the more desperate and laughable you sound. When you were defending his 0-20 to start the season, the rally cry was “not enough sample size…wait for 100 PAs.” Well, now he has 447 TPA. Results: 127K and .242/.317/.389. Not good, at best.

Is he “horrible”? No. But does he deserve to be an everyday starter and secure in his job? Absolutely not. In fact, its the Tigers’ everyday position most in need of an upgrade.

He’s a utility guy and has been his entire career, nothing more.

David August 22, 2007 at 12:25 am

I used the pitches/pa because EZ implied that he takes 3 right down the middle and sits in the dugout. I’ve seen plenty of ab by him where he gets to a full count and fouls off quite a few before K’ing or hitting.

Also he hits lefties at a .301 mark so maybe you think he should be platooned and be a late inning defensive replacement like he was today.

NO ONE CAN ARGUE that he is stellar in the field.

And last year was the best defensive year by anyone that I’ve ever seen, and I don’t just watch the Tigs.

We can argue all day long, but I happen to really support him as I do with most other Tigers who I deem to be helping the team win, so you aren’t going to change my mind.

Also really if their offense was going like it was while he was hitting, or even while he wasn’t (excluding April) we didn’t really need the hitting we needed the pitching.

David August 22, 2007 at 12:25 am

I used the pitches/pa because EZ implied that he takes 3 right down the middle and sits in the dugout. I’ve seen plenty of ab by him where he gets to a full count and fouls off quite a few before K’ing or hitting.

Also he hits lefties at a .301 mark so maybe you think he should be platooned and be a late inning defensive replacement like he was today.

NO ONE CAN ARGUE that he is not stellar in the field.

And last year was the best defensive year by anyone that I’ve ever seen, and I don’t just watch the Tigs.

We can argue all day long, but I happen to really support him as I do with most other Tigers who I deem to be helping the team win, so you aren’t going to change my mind.

Also really if their offense was going like it was while he was hitting, or even while he wasn’t (excluding April) we didn’t really need the hitting we needed the pitching.

billfer August 22, 2007 at 6:22 am

His strong 2004 season was the result of pitchers challenging a guy who came into the season with a .201 lifetime average…to wit: he saw a lot of hittable fastballs. Once he established he could handle it at a more reasonable pace than his previous history, teams started to actually “pitch” to him…the result: a steadily decline in performance. (.261-.253-.242 since)

What magically happened to pitchers in 2004 that they started grooving fastballs to him that they weren’t in previous seasons?

Batting average is one measure of performance. You’ll see that Inge actually started taking more walks after 2004 when pitchers pitched him tougher. You’ll also see that he increased his power even as pitchers stopped putting the ball on a tee for him.

I want to make it clear, I have absolutely no problem with Inge’s production from 04-06 and I’d be quite happy to have that in the lineup. My contention is that at his current offensive production he’s a drain. Where the two Inge camps seem to split is that pro-Inge expect him to hit closer to the new established level of performance which he maintained for 3 years (and I’m looking at total offensive performance, not just batting average), while Inge detractors just expect him to get worse.

As for the strikeouts, they really don’t bother me in general. He strikes out a ton, so do a lot of hitters. It’s become problematic as of late because it’s been almost every other at-bat and the complete inability to put the ball in play in situations that necessitate it.

He’s a good athlete, but he’s very, very fortunate to have received so many at-bats in his career as it is. Most teams – had they not suffered 321 losses in first three third seasons(and 119 in his third year) – would have released him by his third straight season of hitting under .205 and you’d never had heard from him again.

I can’t argue this. He was definitely in the right place at the right time and it’s amazing he still had a job after 2003.

Stephen August 22, 2007 at 8:25 am

I think you can argue that Inge’s .242 may be exactly what his ‘mean’ average is trending toward. Since his .287 season, which seems like a complete career aberration, his batting average fell by 26 points and then by 8 points. I don’t think as part of this downward trend his average dropping for a third straight year is really that shocking.
I don’t know what the OPS for a solid third baseman should be, but I’m guessing it should be at least in the 110-112 range, but Inge has hit significantly over the ’100′ league average only once which suggests that he has been an offensive liability for every year in his career except for one. How that gets you a four-year contract is beyond me.

ez August 22, 2007 at 10:05 am

David,

1) Salary. Right now it doesn’t matter. As I said 20 million or 20 dollars, what he is getting paid is meaningless for the next 3 months. We can debate salary after the season. Inge’s paycheck right now is irrelevant. It is what it is. I don’t care what other 3rd basemen are getting paid either. Right now it is production that speaks, not payday.

Pitches seen. Of course he has seen a lot of pitches. He is striking out at .320 clip and leads the league. His strikeouts absolutely kill innings. No amount of pitches seen defends his k’s.

Anecdotal “2 walk off homeruns” is a poor argument. For every walk off he has he has had literally dozens of inning killing strikeouts. Defending him on 0-17 then saying “he went on a tear after that” is also silly. Why not look at the WHOLE year? I have listed his BA, OPS, and K’s enough for you to get the point that these meaningful stats, as oppossed to your desparately clinging to ‘pitches seen’. The relevent stats are where Inge is absolutely deficient.

The reason people are jumping on Inge is because of……Brandon Inge. His play has been horrible and people are rightly calling him to the carpet.

No one has said here that the Tigers are losing because of Inge. I have never said it. Not once. Turn down the paranoid lever.

Your most…. ummm…. interesting defense of Inge is that other players ‘stink’ too…. I believe you list Casey, Pudge, and Sheffield as having ‘stunk’ as well as Inge. So, by that rationale it is ok for me to drink and drive so long as everyone else on the road is drunk too? You know, maybe I will try it and use it as my defense in court. Think it will work?

I have not said that the Tigers record over the last 30 days is Inge’s fault. But clearly, he isn’t helping. His play has earned him his demotion, and now a great majority see and agree with this assessment. We aren’t discussing the pitching, or other hitters, we are discussing Inge. You go to great effort to shine the light anywhere but Inge. The question here is Inge’s play. The stats you use to defend him are nearly irrelevant, while the stats I use (OPS, BA, K’s) show offensive futility. Your anacdotes are easily countered by more anacdotes. For example countering your playoff and World Series anacdotes is easy by saying Inge lead the team in strikeouts and errors in the postseason. He struck out at a .340 clip. Maybe I am fuzzy on the definition of clutch, but I am pretty sure leading the team in errors and whiffs isn’t clutch.

His defense is absolutely debatable. He leads AL 3rd basemen in errors, yet he is 3rd in range factor. His fielding percentage is 9th. You may not like using errors and fielding percentage, but there can be an argument that he is far less than “steller”… Steller 3rd basemen don’t tag 3rd when there is no force. Yep, that is an anacdotal argument. But that play was so far into the Land Of Stupid that is begs to be mentioned. We are talking Leon Lett dumb. Dumb like I have not seen that in 30 years of baseball or 20 years of softball. You don’t even see little leaguers making a play that dumb. Take some of the crisco off of the rose colored Inge glasses. His fielding is a little above average.

“And I’m sure he will pull out of it”- your comment. Great, now we are in an argument of faith. When all logic fails, go to faith. Umm, ok, I can’t argue your faith in him. You know, maybe your faith will be boosted if you strip down to your underwear and bark at the moon. I mean, it’s faith afterall… it couldn’t hurt.

I applaud you rooting for the guy. I am not trying to change your mind. I applaud you defending him, but the tools you use in his defense are absurd. Saying, in effect, “But other guys suck too” only shows your doggedness not to face facts.

Rings August 22, 2007 at 11:05 am

And one final point on the “pitches seen” stat:

Yes, in some cases, this can be pointed to as evidence of a patient hitter who works the count (particularly if it coincides with other evidence of a hitter’s patience), but in Inge’s case, more than anything else, his high number of “pitches seen” is because he swings and misses so often. He’s failing to put the ball into play on offerings that the average hitter would put into player earlier in counts, therefore necessitating more pitches.
In other words, its a moot point and certainly not an asset to his case.
As Bilfer says above, if he’s working the count to get walks, that’s a good thing, but “working” the count because he swings and misses 2-3 times per AB is not.

David, I admire your tenacity in defense of Brandon, but a dose of reality is helpful. We’re all Tiger fans, rooting for him and all of players, but as I was always rooting for John B. Wockenfuss in my youth, I also realized that he was never going to be a “great” player. Likewise, the Tigers need to finally consider some other options for an underproducing player, especially one who is now making unrealistic comparisons of himself with “Ruth” and “Williams.” He needs a break.

Stephen August 22, 2007 at 11:48 am

‘Take some of the Crisco off your rose colored glasses’ is my new favorite phrase.

Musa D August 22, 2007 at 12:42 pm

Platooning Inge and Raburn does look like it might make sense, though I don’t know Raburn’s minor-league splits. Anybody have them?

Leyland gives his guys a lot of rope, and that can drive fans crazy, but I do think there’s a big upside to his approach. It’s part of the reason players like to play for him. The value of that is rarely visible to the rest of us.

Mike R August 22, 2007 at 1:08 pm

But at what point do the guys that “want to play for him” become a hindrance to the ballclub, like Inge at the plate, Grilli at anything, etc?

Musa D August 22, 2007 at 1:51 pm

Right, this is a good question. I’d just also ask if Leyland’s approach has made a difference in, for instance, Jones seeming to get back on track recently–not only his approach to Jones, but his approach to the entire roster.

I guess my point is that it might be a more complicated equation than it seems on paper.

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