Brandon Inge’s Second Rare Feat

During the 2011 postseason, I wrote about Brandon Inge and the unusual circumstances of his season with the Detroit Tigers. In post entitled Brandon Inge’s Rare Feat, I explained that:

Based on my research, Inge appears to be the only player in the past 10 years with more than five years of major-league service who was designated for assignment, then was recalled by the major-league team that sent him down and then went on to play a significant role [for that team] in the postseason.

The Tigers had designated Inge for assignment last July after he batted .144/.202/.196 in 239 plate appearances. He reported to the Tigers’ Triple-A affiliate in Toledo, and hit his way back to Detroit in August. Upon his return, he batted .262/.315/.436 in 54 plate appearances and earned a spot on the Tigers’ postseason roster. He contributed a .429/.500/.571 line to the Tigers’ winning effort over the Yankees in the League Division Series and a .267/.389/.467 line in the Tigers’ loss to the Rangers in League Championship Series.

Heading into the 2012 season, Inge expected to play third base for the Tigers in the final year of his 2-year/$11 million contract. But Victor Martinez blew out his knee and was lost for the season, leading the the Tigers to sign Prince Fielder and move Miguel Cabrera to third base. The Tigers moved Inge to second base, where he split time with Ryan Raburn and Ramon Santiago. In twenty plate appearances, Inge hit .100/.100/.300. The Tigers released him on April 26.

Four days later, the Oakland A’s — desperate for just a replacement-level third baseman — signed Inge. In eleven games, Inge is producing for Oakland like he did for Detroit last postseason. In 50 plate appearances, Inge is hitting .227/.300/.545 with five walks, two doubles and four home runs. Two of Inge’s   homers have been grand slams, including this walk-off slam against the Toronto Blue Jays last week:

He’s also made some nifty defensive plays for the Green-and-Gold, including this catch of Omar Vizquel‘s bunt attempt in the same game as the walk-off grannie.

Whether Inge will continue to produce for the A’s remains to be seen. Fifty plate appearances is a tiny sample size and runs counter to Inge’s career numbers: .234/.304/.389, .301 wOBA and 81 RC+.

Even so, Inge has already accomplished something few other major leaguers have: getting released from one team mid-season, signing with a new team that season, and making an immediate impact for the new team.

To be sure, there are dozens of players who’ve redeemed their careers in the the seasons following an outright release. Among pitchers who’ve recently turned their careers around after getting released there’s Brandon McCarthy, Ryan Vogelsong, Kevin Millwood, Clay Hensley, and Tim Byrdak. Among  position players, there’s Casey Kotchman, Melky Cabrera, and Jeff Francoeur.

But few players turn their season around with a new team following a release. Bobby Abreu‘s been given a second chance with the Dodgers this season, after the Angels released him on April 26. After batting .208/.259/.303 in 27 plate appearances with Anaheim, Abreu’s posted a .296/.345/.444 line in 29 plate appearances for the boys in blue. Livan Hernandez has been useful out of the bullpen for the Braves this season, after getting released by the Astros at the end of spring training. In 22 1/3 innings, Hernandez has a 2.17 K/BB ratio and is stranding 81 percent of the runners on base.

Last season, the Rays released Cory Wade from their Triple-A affiliate in June only to see him become a steady reliever out of the Yankees bullpen.  The Rangers faced Arthur Rhodes in the World Series after they released him  August and he signed on with the Cardinals.

Pat Burrell turned his career around with the Giants in 2010, after the Rays released him in the second year of a 2-year/$16 million contract. At the time he left Tampa, Burrell was batting .202/.292/.333 with two home runs in 96 plate appearances. In San Francisco, Burrell batted .266/.364/.539 with eighteen home runs in 341 plate appearances and was a key component of the Giants’ first World Series Championship since the team moved to San Francisco in 1958.

Unlike Burrell and Abreu, there’s nothing in Inge’s career numbers to suggest he can sustain this offensive production for the A’s over the rest of the season. But Inge has proved us wrong before. And he may just do it again.




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Wendy is also a contributing writer for Sports on Earth. Her writing has appeared on ESPN.com, Baseball Nation, Bay Area Sports Guy, The Score, The Classical and San Francisco Magazine. Wendy practiced law for 18 years before beginning her writing career. You can find her work at wendythurm.pressfolios.com and follow her on Twitter @hangingsliders.

16 Responses to “Brandon Inge’s Second Rare Feat”

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  1. Huisj says:

    Columbus? Toledo? What?

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  2. KB says:

    Gary Gaetti was released by the Angels in summer 1993 and immediately picked up by the Royals. He then slugged 477 the rest of the season for the Royals. He performed more than adequately in 1994 and 1995 before moving to the Cardinals for the 1996 season.

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  3. Kyle says:

    I don’t recall Jeff Francoeur ever being released, and Baseball Reference doesn’t have any record of it. Same for Casey Kotchman.

    Are you considering being non-tendered as being released?

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  4. kick me in the GO NATS says:

    Right now the A’s sit one game out for the second wild card spot in the AL at 19-17. So many had them as a 100 loss team this season, but I did not. I figured the pitching would make them a 70-72 win team. Turns out they are getting surprising play from several spots (Reddick anyone) so far, so maybe I called to low a total for them. Inge is just caught up in the weirdly good Karma that is the A’s right now. That is maybe enough for him and the A’s to finish the year with surprising numbers. Who knows! But it is fun to watch so far!!!! Even for a Nats fan!

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    • BX says:

      The A’s could place absolutely anywhere on the win curve, and I wouldn’t be surprised.

      I think the overachieving of Josh Reddick and Inge is balanced by the underachieving of Pennington and Weeks, along with the absolute (expected) misery that is every other A’s 3B this season.

      Also, side note, as an A’s fan, the Nats are really, really exciting and are easily my favorite NL team.

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  5. Nathan says:

    It won’t be long before he’s the same mediocre baseball player he’s always been. He had plenty of hot streaks like this with the Tigers. The long-term numbers tell the truth.

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    • guest says:

      Even if he reverts to being a mediocre baseball player, that is still very valuable to most second tier teams. 1-2 WAR from a starter is not great but nothing to sneeze at.

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      • BX says:

        A mediocre 1-2 WAR 3B is immensely valuable to the A’s, since their starter Scott Sizemore is out for the season and Josh Donaldson will struggle to even achieve replacement level.

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      • Nathan says:

        Oh sure, I don’t disagree. Same way the mediocre Wilson Betemit was a worthwhile pickup for the Tigers last season, even though his mediocrity was only a little better than Inge’s.

        I’m more making a point how Inge will do flashy things in spurts, like hit a big home run or make a great play at third, and for the typical fan, it clouds their judgment of his real ability and performance. That’s how it was here in Detroit. Right up until late last season most fans still loved them some Brandon Inge because all they could remember was the diving stop here, the late-inning dinger there, and oh by the way, the fact that he’s one of the few regular white players on a team that has largely been latino since 2003.

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    • guest says:

      Personally, I don’t look at the player’s highlights. I just focus on their overall numbers and don’t get caught up in this emotional attachment to guys based on a few good plays. You are right that the average fan will just think that X player is amazing because of a few select highlight reel plays, however.

      I see Inge as an average to above average player in his prime and a below average guy right now. Nothing more, nothing less.

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  6. matt w says:

    There’s Chris Resop, who was waived by the Braves in August 2010 and picked up by the Pirates, for whom he put up a 1.89 ERA and 2.82 ERA over the last month-plus. Admittedly 19 relief innings for a 105-loss team may not count as a contribution.

    Similar story with Jason Grilli last year; the Phillies released him in July, the Pirates picked him up and he did well in relief. I’m not positive that releasing a player who’s in the minors counts, though, and we might just want to exclude middle relievers. Still, if you sort qualified relievers this year in order of K/9 you will discover a Fun Fact.

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  7. Inge = Cringe says:

    Oakland fans will get tired of cringe. Every time he opens his mouth and his track record of check swing strikes, swing and miss of an offspeed around the ankles.

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    • Bobbie says:

      Take your negative Inge comments back to Detroit. All you Inge haters can eat your words or if your not man (or woman) enough to admit Detroit’s problems were not Inge, go pick on Rayburn.

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  8. When the phrase “rare feat” is used I picture a foot with the toes in the wrong order

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  9. gnomez says:

    As a Tigers fan, I still can’t comprehend why Inge was released before Raburn.

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