Everyone remembers Linsanity, right? Well, there’s something similar going on in Detroit these days. Quintin Berry is the hottest thing since sliced bread; everyone has “Berry fever”. It’s well deserved of course, after five games, Berry is hitting a cool .381/.458/.476 with 3 steals. Steals!? Tigers fans aren’t used to those. Let’s back up a minute though, and take a longer look at this guy before we anoint him our next corner OF.
Quintin was drafted by the Phillies in the 5th round of the 2006 draft. Not surprising, because Philly loves to draft athletes with speed. After a few uninspiring minor league seasons, Berry ended up in San Diego’s system in 2010, and hit .209/.293/.264 for the second half of the minor league season. Something clicked for him though when he went on to Cincinnati last season, where he put up a .284/.383/.391 slash in AA, and a few games in AAA. No one really thought much of it though, considering he was 26 years old and still playing in AA.
Then, Berry signed as a minor league free agent with Detroit, and put himself on the radar in spring training with a couple nice catches and 9 hits in 27 at bats. After Delmon played his way to DH, Dirks took over LF, Austin Jackson went on the DL, and Don Kelly was, well, Don Kelly, the logical choice was to call up Berry for a few games in CF. It seems as if that was the right choice. He’s provided a spark off the bench, and picked up where Jackson left off a few weeks ago. What can we reasonably expect from Quintin going forward?
It’s important to realize that it’s only been 5 games and 25 PA. That’s literally a 30th of the season. Berry was also 7th in OPS, and 4th in OBP for Toledo this season, with a .689 OPS and a .368 OBP. Sure, the OBP is impressive, but to keep it in perspective, when Matt Young has a .435, Justin Henry has a .422, Danny Worth has a .386, and Eric Patterson and Brad Eldred have .365. So no, he shouldn’t be the lead off hitter when Jackson comes back, and slide Jackson to 5th. I’m really glad he’s provided a nice spark for the Tigers this week, but he’s a 27 year old career minor leaguer with a career minor league OPS of .697. Let’s temper the expectations a little bit.
Where can Berry fit in with the Tigers though? Well, for starters, he’s probably going to stay on the team when Jackson comes back, considering Danny Worth never plays. I think he’s a great pinch runner, and decent defensive replacement, if he can learn to play the corner OF positions. I wouldn’t mind putting him out there once in awhile against right-handed pitching, while DHing Boesch and benching Young.
Let’s remember, Nook Logan had an awesome 14 game stretch when he first came up for the Tigers in 2004, going .390/.447/.463. After 25 games, he was at .333/.392/.409. Josh Anderson, when first arriving in 2007 for the Astros, hit .358/.413/.403 for 21 games, too. Those are the two guys that I associate the closest with Quintin Berry, and we know how they both worked out. All in all, I’d ride the Berry hot streak for another couple of weeks, and take him out as soon as he’s going to turn back into a strawberry.