LairdHead.jpgOn May 29, Gerald Laird changed his uniform number from 8 to 12 in the hope his offensive luck would change. Who could blame him for trying something — anything — to inject some life into his bat.

How’s it worked? He’s 2 for 16, or .125 since the switcheroo.

Before he had clubhouse guy Jim Schmakel sew him up a new uni, Laird was 16 for 101, or .158. And his overall stats for Laird while wearing #8 — the ones we’ll compare below with his predecessors are: .184 avg., 5 HR, .271 OBP, .553 OPS

This uniform-change ploy got me thinking about recent Tigers players that wore number 8 or number 12 to see which had the best offensive numbers and if, based on recent history (going back to 1995ish), Laird might luck out by some numerical karma.

Let’s start with Laird’s erstwhile number 8.

  • Neifi Perez (2006-07): .186 avg., 1 HR, .228 OBP, .468 OPS
  • Craig Paquette (2002-03): .185 avg., 4 HR, .215 OBP, .502 OPS
  • Deivi Cruz (1997-2001): .271 avg., 37 HR, .293 OBP, .683 OPS
  • Matt Walbeck (1997, 2002-03): .228, 4 HR, .264 OBP, .556 OPS
  • Mark Parent (1996): .240 avg., 7 HR, .259 OBP, .759 OPS
  • Phil Hiatt (1996): .190 avg., 0 HR, .261 OBP, .574 OPS

  • Juan Samuel (1994-95): .293 avg., 15 HR, .371 OBP, .911 OPS

Anyway, without Cruz and Samuel, #8 doesn’t fare well in our competition. The average, uh, average for these seven players: .228 — yes, I’ll grant you that meager plate appearances and performances by Hiatt and Parent throw things off a bit. Play along, won’t you?

Now let’s look at recent history of his new number, #12:

  • Carlos Pena (2002-05): .244 avg., 75 HR, .331 OBP, .792 OPS
  • Damian Jackson (2002): .257, 1 HR, .320 OBP, .679 OPS
  • Brandon Inge (2001): .180 avg., 0 HR, .215 OBP, .453 OPS
  • Brad Ausmus (1999-2000*): .266 avg., 20 HR, .354 OBP, .736 OPS
  • Kimera Bartee (1996-99): .227 avg., 4 HR, .289 OBP, .580 OPS

  • Phil Nevin (1995-97): .246 avg., 19 HR, .317 OBP, .745 OPS

*Ausmus played 75 games for the Tigers in 1996 wearing #7 after coming over mid-season in a trade with the Padres.

The man whom Laird — and Tigers fans for that matter — should hope provides a statistical lift based purely on numerical kinship is Ausmus. Can you imagine what a difference a .266-hitting catcher would mean to the Tigers’ lineup? (On the other hand, can you imagine what a .266-hitting catcher would mean to the Twins’ lineup. Ouch.)

The real number Laird should’ve tried for when he got to Detroit was not 8 or 12, but #13 — Lance Parrish‘s number. Ironically, that one’s taken, and we hope for a while, by Laird’s replacement Alex Avila

What’s your next trick, G-Money?