Note: I started writing this piece and realized that Tom Gage wrote about 900 words on the same topic. While it might not be the freshest take, I’m posting it anyway for your consideration.
For the life of me, I can’t remember a Tigers player that enraged me the way Brandon Inge does these days.
Yes, long-time readers of the Fungo remember my constant bellyaching about Craig Monroe but that was on a different level entirely. Monroe, I thought, was the most self-centered player on the Tigers; swing for the fences regardless of the situation, play defense when he felt like it.
Inge, I believe, is a team player. No question. He gives his all in the field and … perhaps at the plate. And we all know he played the second half of 2009 with two useless legs and still managed to play tremendous defense.
A total gamer.
But why then do I see him come to the plate and immediately think, depending on the scenario: pop-up, strikeout or double play? Is it the tattoos? His petulant attitude when the Tigers signed Pudge Rodriguez and traded for Miguel Cabrera? The soul patch?
I think it’s all the above.
What pains me about this is my affinity for the Tigers. I don’t enjoy not liking Tigers players. The White Sox? I relish in despising all 25 on the roster. Sure, every Tigers team has featured a player that drove me looney, but this is unprecedented for me. (Well, in the case of the 2010 Tigers there are two maddening players: Inge and Ryan Raburn.)
Inge is hitting .253 coming into play today but get this: he’s hitting .326 in June — .333 with runners in scoring position after hitting just .182 and .174 with RISP in April and May respectively.
So what are we to make of this? Is Inge’s offensive production on the rise or is he setting us up with a rope-a-dope that will send us into a rage when he strands five runners in a game but makes two game-saving catches? (Speaking of D, he’s committed five errors and is on pace to match — if not surpass — last year’s 20. His fielding percentage is .972.)
No matter what fuels this fire I’ll have to live with it. Chances are Brandon Inge will be back at third base for the Tigers next season.
God help me.