A’s Sign Brandon Inge to Replace Brandon Inge

After getting swept by the Mariners at home last week, the Tigers decided to make some changes, and those changes including releasing Brandon Inge. The longtime Tiger played himself out of a job last year and failed to improve on his struggles while making the conversion to second base this season, so Detroit finally cut him loose. After clearing waivers, the A’s swooped in and signed him to a contract, and will install him as their third baseman after designating Luke Hughes (claimed on waivers to take the position just last week) for assignment to make room for Inge.

On one hand, it’s hard to imagine how Inge could actually represent any grade of upgrade for a Major League team at this point in his career. He hit .197/.265/.283 last year and was just 2 for 20 to begin the 2012 season. As a soon to be 35-year-old, he looks like his career is nearly finished. On the other hand, the A’s in-house options at third base might actually be even worse.

The team began the year with Josh Donaldson tabbed as the starter coming out of spring training. Donaldson is a 26-year-old who was a below average hitter in the PCL last year. Not surprisingly, he wasn’t able to hold the job for more than a few days, as Bob Melvin had him split time with utility infielder Eric Sogard. Sogard was bad, but Donaldson was worse, so he ended up back in Triple-A and the team claimed Luke Hughes on waivers from the Twins. Hughes played four games before he was DFA’d to make room for Inge.

Using the rest-of-season ZIPS projections, we can see the forecast for Inge and the two guys who he’s being called on to replace:

Inge: .285 wOBA
Donaldson: .277 wOBA
Hughes: .274 wOBA

Almost unbelievably, Inge is actually projected to outhit both incumbents, but of course the margin is so small that all three could really just be lumped into the same “awful hitter” category.

Inge used to be an elite defender at third base, but injuries have taken their toll on him, and he’s not what he used to be with the glove. Still, given the atrocious options the A’s had in house, signing him actually represents a small upgrade offensively, as hard as that actually is to believe.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

30 Responses to “A’s Sign Brandon Inge to Replace Brandon Inge”

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  1. baycommuter says:

    Sogard’s projection should be included here, he’s the one who was playing best and was going to end up with most of the time.

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    • hk says:

      FWIW, ZIPS projects a .294 wOBA for Sogard for the rest of the year, which is better than the other three.

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  2. Belter Blandings says:

    Woe will continue to be a constant for Athletics fans.

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  3. jim says:

    at least sogard has a cool name, inge sounds like something you’d want to wipe off your boot (as the tigers just did)

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  4. Tim_the_Beaver says:

    Pure speculation on my part, but with the A’s basically conceding any competitiveness this season, it seems to me they just needed a glove there so they weren’t leaving their young pitchers out to dry. Defense at 3B has been absolutely atrocious up to this point. Sadly, probably much worse than a 35 year old Inge

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    • cable fixer says:

      very interesting point. inge remains a more than a passable 3b by UZR…something in the +3-5 range…surprising, given the general stink that wafts from inge’s bat.

      having said that, sogard has rated out as near elite thus far by UZR at 3rd.

      and as another poster mentioned–he has really impressive LD rate. using the xbabip calculator, his stat line should produce a .355 babip, 200+ points higher than what he has now. this leads me to ask:

      1. is the LD input incorrect? for instance, are hits that are marked as LDs really poor contact humpback liners?
      2. does he look as overmatched by major league his statline suggests?

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  5. stan says:

    its fair to say that Inge, a has-been, is more likely to actually play like a decent major leaguer from here on out than Donaldson, a never was.

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  6. Sam says:

    Donaldson is a 26-year-old who was a below average hitter in the PCL last year.

    He was actually a bit above average once you adjust for park.

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    • WilJ says:

      Isn’t the PCL a hitter friendly league pertaining to parks?

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      • Sam says:

        Dave was basing his comment on wRC+, which simply weighs a minor leaguer’s offensive output against league average without adjusting for park.

        The PCL is a hitters league (which wRC+ accounts for), but Sacramento is a pitchers park (which wRC+ does not account for).

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    • Brian Cartwright says:

      Donaldson’s 261/344/439 344 wOBA in 2011 at Sacramento, plus 15 games of winter ball (320 wOBA) translate to a MLE of 235/298/390 303 wOBA – yuck

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  7. Anonymous says:

    A’s are making a huge mistake by not giving Sogard a longer look. He has the league’s lowest BABIP (.139) among hitters with at least 50 PA, and that’s with a line drive rate of 30%. Just compare his plate discipline numbers with Inge’s.

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  8. Brian says:

    Inge to replace Inge (title)? Haha, nice!

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    • I am a Red Sux Fan says:

      Pretty much sums it up! After the title you don’t even really need the article.

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  9. skmd says:

    at this point, any team looking to plug a hole shouldn’t make a move before calling theo epstein, beause essentially the entire cubs ML roster has a for sale sticker on it. jeff baker or blake dewitt would have been better options than inge, and even ian stewart, clearly a stopgap for the cubs as they wait for josh vitters to act like a first round draft pick, could be had for the right price.

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    • BX says:

      And the A’s shouldn’t be looking to trade assets for stopgaps.

      They’re *not* contending in the AL West. Not with Texas in beast mode (SSS caveats apply) and LAA primed to rebound.

      When Stephen Parker is ready, he’ll get first dibs at the 3B job. Inge makes far more sense than trading for a short term answer at 3B.

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  10. kick me in the GO NATS says:

    The As have some nice pitching with some depth (check out Milone’s era). Cespedes looks very legit for power. Weeks should be better than he has been this season. It is possible the As are better than many of you think. Sure, it would surprise if they seriously contended, but 70-72 wins looks possible to me if everything falls right.

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  11. Chone Figgins MVP says:

    Since the A’s are signing horrible players, can they please take Miguel Olivo?

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  12. Inge = Cringe says:

    career .114 at Oakland with 2 homeruns in 125 atbats.
    A’s fans will love check swing Cringe.

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    • ted says:

      inge some pretty good year’s in detroit until they put him behind the plate and ruined
      his knees.he thought he had a lot of fans here with all the cheering he use to get
      then he start’s to have some trouble and start’s getting all the the booing and start’s
      pressing to hard. mybe he’s a change might do him some good.
      at least i for one hope so he can make all you know it all’s with the memorys eat your
      words GO INGE YOU SHOW EM

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      • Nathan says:

        Inge was never a very good offensive player. He had a couple years where his halfway decent ability to hit the ball out of the park made him a reasonable option at third given his glove.

        Fans absolutely adored Inge despite the fact he was never particularly good. The fans turned on him when he let it all go to his head, and started acting like a diva. That all started when he was asked to go back to catcher, and he whined. Since then, he’s just repeatedly said stupid, arrogant stuff, which is a tough pill to swallow for the fans when they finally came around to realize that he wasn’t actually any good.

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  13. Jeff Mathis does steroids says:

    Chone Figgins. 3rd baseman. Has 2 bad years in his age 32 and 33 seasons Fangraphs diagnosis: He will regress towards career means.

    Brandon Inge. 3rd baseman. Has 1 bad year in age 34 season. Fangraphs diagnosis: He may be slightly better than Josh Donaldson.


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    • TheGrandslamwich says:

      You may want to double check that. Inge was below replacement level the last two years, and was basically league average before that. Figgins was well above league average until the last two years and so at least has shown potential. Not to mention their skillsets age differently.

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      • Nathan says:

        Just to add on to your point, he’s only had two seasons where he was above average. And if you look at those two seasons, he was just barely scraping average with his offense, based on his wRC+. So that tells me he had some value tied up in his defensive metrics, which even the staunchest UZR defender would probably admit are not ideal for single-year judgments on a player’s ability.

        That said, back in the mid-’00s, Inge’s glove certainly passed the eyeball test as well, so he deserves credit for that. But let’s just remember, he’s not Ryan Zimmerman with a really good glove and a really nice bat… even at his best he was a league-average hitter with a really good glove.

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    • Jacob says:

      Haha really both of those are the same.

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  14. Patrick says:

    Wow. Still some people will defend Inge. Check out his career. There is rarely a year he has more hits than strikeouts and over the last decade his on base percentage is horrid. Add to that diminishing skills at third and you get a guy that should be playing for the Toledo Mudhens. But wait, he tells management he will not go back down for assignment. Just like he told management he wouldn’t catch anymore. This guy should be begging to stay in baseball in any way he can, not dictating his terms. You are making 6 million dollars from the tigers over this year and next Mr. Inge. How about doing what the team asks of you. The Tigers made the right move, Oakland fans get ready to boo.

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