The official news has come down: Delmon Young’s oblique injury is keeping him off of the Tigers’ ALCS roster. It would appear that the Tigers’ brass considered the likelihood that Young would ultimately be kept out of the lineup anyway to be too great to be Worth the risk. The roster spot he vacates will be occupied by Danny Worth. Evidently, we are seeing the roster equivalent of a double-switch: Ryan Raburn will be taking Young’s role in left field while Danny Worth takes Raburn’s half of the second base platoon with Ramon Santiago.
Raburn, as has been mentioned in more than one post today, mauls left-handed pitching just like Delmon Young. He does not, unfortunately, maul right-handed pitching (neither does Young). That, you would think, would have made Ryan Raburn an ideal platoon partner for Ramon Santiago, right? Well, not exactly. Raburn is by far the better batter, Santiago by far the better fielder. Even against righties Raburn’s career OPS is .729 to Santiago’s .663. A manager can make use of that offense-defense dichotomy, but it isn’t exactly what you would think of as ideal for a platoon.
Enter Danny Worth. Now, Worth hasn’t seen all that much major league action – so I’m basing all this on small-sample stats – but what I see I like. Worth’s career major-league OPS against righties (in only 81 plate appearances) is .533. That’s really terrible. So terrible that it makes Santiago’s .663 look great. Against lefties, it has been a different story: Worth’s major league OPS (in only 73 plate appearances) is .774. He hits for average and with some pop, he takes walks. And wait, that’s not all, he plays defense. Raburn, as you are all aware, is a genuinely terrible second baseman. He was never even considered for the role until every other option crashed and burned. While the sample size is limited, advanced defensive metrics all agree that while he hasn’t done too well as a shortstop or a third baseman at second Danny Worth has been exceptional. Seldom has a player seemed better suited for such a specific limited role, but I like his chances in this ALDS.