Which Second Baseman Gets Game Five Nod?

It was reported early Wednesday evening that Magglio Ordonez would get the start for the Tigers in right field Thursday night in their win-or-go-home contest at Yankee Stadium. Manager Jim Leyland said he also plans to shift Don Kelly from the outfield to the hot corner in favor of both Brandon Inge and the seemingly overwhelmed Wilson Betemit.

The only remaining question for Leyland, then, other than the batting order, is who he will start at second base. The two candidates, of course, are Ramon Santiago and Ryan Raburn.

Good defense at second base might be vital in this game, and it might not be. Santiago has a clear edge in fielding, which could be critical due to the fact that ground ball pitcher Doug Fister will be on the hill for Detroit. Then again, with Fister on the mound Saturday night in game one, Raburn had to field just a single ground ball.

In the same game, Raburn made two plate appearances against Ivan Nova, the Yankees’ game five starter. In his first, he hit a line drive single to right field. In his second, he struck out swinging on a changeup in the dirt. Those are his only two at bats to date against the New York rookie. Raburn is 2-for-5 overall at the plate so far this postseason, and he was 18-for-47 (.383) in 17 regular season games in September.

Santiago, meanwhile, is just 2-for-10 in the 2011 postseason. His two hits (a double and a single off CC Sabathia), however, both knocked in Inge, providing two pivotal runs in the Tigers’ 5-4 game three victory. He went 17-for-63 (.270) in 22 September games, and has never faced Nova.

Earlier today, Mickey Brignall, Staff Writer at Motor City Bengals and Editor at Call to the Pen, wrote that he assumed the Tigers’ skipper would stick with Santiago; “He has the ability to hit left-handed, plays a bit better defense (than Raburn), and has already notched some big hits in this series.”

A quick Twitter query revealed passionate supporters for both candidates and even elicited one humorous response calling for the Mets’ soon-to-be free agent Jose Reyes to get the start.

What do you think? Answer the poll below, and leave a comment with any other moves you think Leyland should make on Thursday night.

Who do you want to see at second base in game five?

  • Ramon Santiago (69%, 33 Votes)
  • Ryan Raburn (31%, 15 Votes)

Total Voters: 48

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Tags: ALDS Detroit Tigers Doug Fister Ivan Nova Jim Leyland New York Yankees Ramon Santiago Ryan Raburn

  • MCBjohnverburg

    Can’t believe I am saying this, but I vote for Raburn. Tigers need some O bad, and this is a spot where they could potentially get some.

  • spartynation1

    Neither player thrills me offensively, but Santiago isn’t likely to commit any bonehead errors. With Raburn it’s almost a guarantee that he will boot one, at least. If Fister is on his game, there will be a lot of ground balls. Need the glove for this one.

    • MCBjohnverburg

      I imagine this vote is going to be close. I think it depends on who they go with in RF and 3B as well. Has to be a mix of offense and defense.

      • spartynation1

        Exactly. Need the mix. Maggs is a good choice. Veteran, has been steady at the plate again even if not extra base power. Kelly is solid at the plate too.

        • ChrisHannum

          @spartynation1 I’d love to see Dirks in the outfield over Young or Ordonez. Neither fields well and neither can hit righties well. Too bad that won’t happen. Kelly is not solid at the plate – even if he does have his moments. If any other third base options were solid at the plate, it would be much more of an issue.

        • spartynation1

          @ChrisHannum Solid at the plate in relative terms. Solid compared to Inge and Betemit, of course. That’s all the Tigers have to work with so what else can be done at this point?

    • littlestclouds

      @spartynation1 I think at this point we need offense first and foremost. Santiago is ok defensively but he is not a good hitter, despite game 3. Raburn will always be an adventure but he can hit.

      Also if santiago was a great hitter, Leyland probably wouldn’t have tried bunting him in the first inning.

      • spartynation1

        @littlestclouds Never claimed Ramon was a great hitter. He is OK at best, with some Xbase pop. His fielding however, eclipses Raburns talent level by about, oh, 1000 times.

  • littlestclouds

    I picked Raburn. We could use the offense. Santiago could come in as defensive replacement and we could then shift Raburn to outfield fit Magglio or out of the game for kelly. Id put inge at third.

    • littlestclouds

      Pardon any typos. Im on my phone.

      • spartynation1

        @littlestclouds No worries. I’m awful on my phone. Partly because the ‘y’ key on the slideout is sketchy, and partly because my fingers are too big. lol

  • MCBjohnverburg

    A couple of night owls like myself. Good to see it fellas. Its a tough question. Nova is better against lefties. Have to keep that in mind as well.

    • spartynation1

      @MCBjohnverburg There are strong arguments to be made for both players. Like anything else, this one will come down to personal preference. Fun stuff to toss around as a fan.

    • spartynation1

      @MCBjohnverburg Yes, always up late here. Normally feel like I am posting into oblivion, so it is good to see you as well, sir.

      • MCBjohnverburg

        @spartynation1 One of the things we are all working on here is trying to be more interactive with people that post. We would love to see even more people. Tell your friends. That’s what its all about anyway. Baseball 24/7. Haha.

        • spartynation1

          @MCBjohnverburg Will do. Just followed your twitter. I started reading here when you added Garret. Followed him over from Twitter. Seems like a good kid, and a heck of a writer. Love the site. Everyone here does great work.

        • MCBjohnverburg

          @spartynation1 Thanks for the kind words. Garret was a find for us at detroitbaseballpage. Really like his stuff. And thanks for the follow, appreciate it. And even though I cheer for my WMU Broncos first and foremost, I got your back on the Spartans. Hope they take down UM for the fourth year in a row.

        • spartynation1

          @MCBjohnverburg If MSU can get some offensive continuity, I think it will happen. Wolverines haven’t arrived yet by any stretch of the imagination. Incidentally, I liked your comment about ‘real music’ on your Twitter page. Couldn’t agree more.

    • Matt Snyder

      @MCBjohnverburg Never expect a reverse platoon split. We’ve observed Nova to have better results versus lefties, but shouldn’t necessarily expect that to continue.

  • NickReo

    Offensively, Rayburn and Santiago each has power but lacks consistency. Defensively, Santiago has the edge. I would start Santiago for this reason, and reserve the option to sub in Rayburn if Kelly, Santiago or Ordonez are betwixted by Nova in their 1st couple at bats.

    • Matt Snyder

      @NickReo Rayburn isn’t on the team.