No Really, Brandon Inge Should Be Your Tiger

Miguel Cabrera and Curtis Granderson are probably both shoe-ins to be representing Detroit in the All Star Game, but believe it or not, Brandon Inge is the guy who deserves to be in St. Louis the most. Inge is having the season of his life, with a .382 wOBA to go along with some very good defense. Pretty impressive for someone who struggled to find regular work the season prior.

A former catcher turned third baseman, Inge evidently has worked his behind off to make himself an effective defender at the hot corner. When Ivan Rodriguez came to Detroit, Inge was asked to move to third base. He scuffled in his first season to the tune of a -18 UZR per 150 games in his first season at the position, but the following seasons Inge improved to +6, +13, +9 and +8. This season he’s been a +13 per 150 games.

Being the lesser bat than Miguel Cabrera and Carlos Guillen, Inge was tagged with the super-utility role last season, but was less than super. Spending most of his playing time as Ivan Rodriguez‘s backup, he also played third on occasion and even…wait for it…center field. Yep, Inge was the Tigers 2008 Opening Day center fielder while Granderson was on the shelf. When Pudge was traded to the Yankees, Inge took over as the Tigers’ everyday catching job once again, but for the season he posted a .297 wOBA, his worst season since 2003, that fateful year the Tigers lost 119 games.

After watching a $135 million + payroll tank it last year, Dave Dombrowski remembered that defense is important, went out and got Adam Everett and Gerald Laird this past winter, and reinstalled Inge at the hot corner. Now thanks to defense and good starting pitching, the Tigers find themselves in 1st place, and Inge is having his finest season to date.

Inge has been improving upon his patience at the plate, walking now in 11% of his plate appearances two seasons running. What’s really boosted his value is his career-high .249 isolated power. Inge has always had average power, but this is quite out of line with what he’s done, and it’s not likely that one of every five of his fly balls he hits will continue to clear the fence.

Inge is projected to hit for a .338 wOBA the rest of the season, which is respectable when you can pick it like he can. Because of that skill, Inge was a over a 3 win player two years in a row in 2005-2006, and thanks to a hot start is well on his way to being the quietest 5 win player of the season.



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Erik Manning is the founder of Future Redbirds and covers the Cardinals for Heater Magazine. You can get more of his analysis and rantings in bite-sized bits by following him on twitter.


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mattymatty
Guest

“Miguel Cabrera and Curtis Granderson are probably both shoe-ins to be representing Detroit in the All Star Game, but believe it or not, Brandon Inge is the guy who deserves to be in St. Louis the most.”

That depends entirely on how you pick your all-stars. If you go by one half of the season then yes, but if you go on total body of work, which to me at least makes a heck of a lot more sense, then no way. I’m voting for the best players, not the players who happened to string together a good 2.5 months at the right time.

Richie Abernathy
Guest
Richie Abernathy

So Jimmy Rollins is your starting NL shortstop in the 2009 All Star Game since he won the 2007 NL MVP?

twinsfan
Guest
twinsfan

And that’s how millions of casual fans across the nation vote, you’ll fit right in.

Hello Ken Griffey Jr., your starting left fielder.

Teej
Guest
Teej

There are plenty of non-casual fans who are unwilling to anoint someone an All-Star based on less than half a season. Some people are, and that’s fine. It’s up to the fans. Personally, I vote for the guys I think are the best baseball players. So I won’t be voting for Griffey, but I also won’t be voting for Marco Scutaro. Neither of them is truly among the best at his position.

mattymatty
Guest

Thanks, twinsfan. That’s exactly what I was talking about. I’m not voting for Babe Ruth, but picking a player on the basis of a two month hot streak is straight dumb if you ask me. Just my opinion.

Ken
Guest
Ken

I agree. I pick them as if I was managing and wanted the best players. So, someone enjoying a flukish start (Scutaro or maybe Inge) is out, but so is a player mired in an awful slump (Rollins). There’s a balance between submitting a lifetime achievement ballot and paying attention to the recent couple of months of play, a subtlety lost on a couple of posters here.

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