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Omar Infante Returns to Detroit

It wasn’t the most publicized trade made yesterday but it will likely have the most impact on the playoff race and possibly your lineup. The Tigers, trying to win now, shipped top prospect Jacob Turner to Miami in exchange for Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez.

For the purposes of this post we’re going to focus on the second base positions of both teams. Infante rejoins the Tigers after having spent the first five years of his career there. He’s currently ranked 12th among second basemen – not great but a solid contributer. With eight home runs and a .155 ISO the 31-year-old has been showing the most power he has since his 16 home run 2004 season. Contributing to that ISO are his doubles; he’s already at 23 while his career high is 28.

Like most switch hitters he has some split issues with an OPS of .852 vs southpaws and .715 vs northpaws. The on base percentage may not get above .320 this year but the power numbers are what is boosting his value. He’s also suffered from playing in the Marlins’ new ballpark. The splits are pretty drastic — .662 at home and .843 on the road. That may be an outlier since Marlins Park is ranked as the 9th best hitters park according to ESPN’s Park Factors; Comerica is 15th.

Adding Infante helps the Tigers solidify their infield. They were getting virtually no production at all from second base. No one wants Danny Worth, Ryan Raburn and Ramon Santiago taking turns if they don’t have to. As Eno Sarris pointed out in his FanGraphs piece the trio has combined for a .243 wOBA thus far while Infante is at a solid .330. His departure from Miami leaves a void the Marlins are better equipped to handle than some others.

The injury to Giancarlo Stanton had pushed Justin Ruggiano to right field and Emilio Bonifacio to center field but things will be shifted once more with the trade of Infante. Ruggiano slides back to center, Greg Dobbs and Austin Kearns will platoon in right and Bonifacio is now the man at second.

The 2011 season was very good to Bonifacio. He finished the season as the 8th ranked shortstop and 92nd ranked player overall. His final slash line of .296/.360/.393 was a bit of a surprise as he’d never shown that type of average or on base skills before but has somewhat kept it up in limited time this year. His main tool his speed, swiping 40 bags last season. He missed some time due to injury this year but is back in the fold and tearing up the base paths. In just 50 games he already has 25 (!) steals which is fourth in baseball. It’s unreasonable to expect him to keep up that pace but he’s certainly not going to curtail his running habits.

Currently with outfield, third base and shortstop eligibility he doesn’t yet have second base position in Yahoo! leagues, but needs six more games played or two more starts to earn it. That should come later this week which will make one of the most versatile players in the game that much more so.