Or maybe it’s actually Ryan Raburn’s fault. Or the whole Tigers squad.
Brandon Inge has had a very good week offensively, as you all know if you have caught these west coast games on TV. Of course he isn’t really THAT good, but it’s fairly safe to say (now) that he wasn’t THAT bad when the Tigers canned him. As I have written numerous times during Inge’s time of troubles 100% of his value at the plate is tied up in a highly variable HR/FB rate. That’s going to be the case for any ‘fly-ball hitter’ and doubly so for one that strikes out a good deal more than he walks. Last year, those flies just weren’t going far enough. This past couple of weeks, they are again.
Does that mean that Inge is an offensive monster? Of course it doesn’t. Inge’s OPS so far this season (counting his time with the Tigers as well as the A’s) is a very pedestrian .712. That’s not all that far from his career .693, his .718 in 2010 or his .720 in 2009. None of those numbers is particularly good, and it was that kind of production that made the Inge-haters hate Inge to begin with. All I’m saying is that just maybe he might be good for something like that this year – as opposed to what he gave the Tigers in 2011 (nothing).
Inge-haters out there – I understand that you might wonder where I’m going with this. You were opposed to signing him to that contract extension based on his mediocre performance prior to 2011 and a return to those numbers probably isn’t something you’d find appealing. You’re still probably glad he’s gone, especially given that he doesn’t seem to be a +20 glove like he’s paid to be any more.
Here’s the thing: Though Inge hasn’t yet dragged his average above .200 – he clearly has value to the Oakland Athletics. After all – that team as a whole has an OPS of .646. Inge’s mediocre .712 OPS puts him right in the middle among A’s batters: behind Josh Reddick, Jonny Gomes, Kila Ka’aihue, Yoenis Cespedes and Seth Smith but miles ahead of Daric Barton, Jemile Weeks, Cliff Pennington, Kurt Suzuki, Coco Crisp and Eric Sogard. So what, eh? The A’s stink, at least at the plate, everybody knows that.
Ah, but it would appear that the Tigers also stink. The Tigers team OPS is only .701 – worse than Inge’s. His unimpressive 2012 OPS is better than Jhonny Peralta, Don Kelly, Danny Worth, Delmon Young, Brennan Boesch and Ramon Santiago. Not to mention almost double the .365 OPS of Ryan Raburn – the guy who has taken over Inge’s at-bats at second base. Brandon Inge doesn’t have to be good to make the Tigers look foolish – he just has to be better than Ryan Raburn. And he has been loads better than Mr. Raburn. If only Worth or Santiago were hitting, which they are not, maybe we could see a little less of him failing to hit the ball. As it is, we just sit and anxiously wait for the long slump to come to an end. Which, come to think of it, is what we did with Brandon Inge for something slightly longer than a season. Perhaps Oakland might be willing to put together a juicy prospect package for Raburn… it seems almost a given after watching Sizemore and Inge take off that Raburn would contend for an MVP if only he could don the green and gold.