June 16, 2010

The Brandon Inge Conundrum

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.
Inge.jpg

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.

5 Comment(s)

  1. Tommyhaynes | Jun 16, 2010 | Reply

    Could it be the fact that he is most casual Tigers fan’s favorite player?

    I have no problem with him, you need to realize that they said his knees wouldn’t be better to begin the year, why not look at the positive and say he is finally getting healthy?

    Speaking for myself, I can no longer have one iota of dislike in my body for him after he hit 2 home runs for the kid who wrote on his arm from the childrens hospital when the kid asked for them. Couldn’t stop tearing up for months after thinking about it or seeing the Outside the Lines report dedicated to it. I remember watching the game and being absolutely stunned.

  2. Jen | Jun 16, 2010 | Reply

    Help us all.

  3. K-Mike | Jun 16, 2010 | Reply

    You speak of the errors Inge makes but he gets to more balls than just about any third baseman in the major leagues because of his first step quickness. He is simply a real “dirtbag”. My problem with him is his inability to hit the other way. He can’t cover anything on the outside corner and his swing just has too many moving parts. He’s an
    uppercutter and will always hit .240 unless he squares up and spreads out to quiet down all that movement. It is what it is.

  4. LN | Jun 16, 2010 | Reply

    I’m not a very big Inge fan either, but at the end of the day he makes $6.5 million as your seven hitter and his OPS his splits are .251/.313/.714 (OPS). That’s about average for the AL. He has six homers and 27 RBI, on pace for 15/70. Not bad.

    Errors are a TERRIBLE way to judge a defensive player. UZR is a decent way to judge them and if you go by that, Inge is a top five defensive third baseman.

    So, in closing, while I’ve never been a huge Inge guy the numbers don’t lie that this year he is an average hitter out of your seven hole and a very good fielder. Not too bad for $6.5 million. He is 33 however and a free agent after this season. Jorge Cantu (.280/.339/.791) from the Marlins will be available this off-season as well. He is 28, has nine homers and 46 RBI already this year and only makes $6 mil a year.

    Will be very interesting to see what the Tigers do. Anything more than a two year contract for Inge I do not agree with at this point in his career. He will forever be a controversial Tiger.

  5. Jim Craddock | Jun 16, 2010 | Reply

    I think the biggest factor is the strikeouts/popouts/double plays in key situations (also my beef with Gerald Laird, btw).

    The next biggest factor is that no matter how lousy he plays, he still makes the top three in the stupid “player of the game” voting.

    I am going to try and be positive and say that maybe he’s headed for a big second half because his knees will be 100%. But healthy or not, he WILL continue to drive us nuts.

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