Amazingly the Tigers are heading into the home stretch in a great position, but they got here despite a mediocre third quarter. The infield actually played well offensively in the third quarter, but there’s plenty to not like. The third base-by-committee being run by Jim Leyland is a nightmare for Tiger fans and the best offensive option at second base, is the worst fielder.
Despite the above average quarter overall for the infielders and cathers, there’s definite room for improvement. Especially defensively, as key errors have been this unit’s downfall. Here’s each of the Tigers infielders grade based solely on their 3rd quarter performance.
Miguel Cabrera (1B) – B+
(Avg. 295/HR 8/RBI 23)
Miguel Cabrera wasn’t quite himself in the 3rd quarter. 11 of his 21 GIDPs during the season happended during the third quarter, there’s even been rumblings that Cabrera is the cause of the Tigers mediocrity. Make no mistake it wasn’t his best quarter, but it would still be projected to be a 30 HR/100 RBI season. If we’re talking about Brennan Boesch or Ryan Raburn, these numbers lead to an A+. However, we’re talking about the Tigers most important position player so above average doesn’t quite cut it. Cabrera is going to need to drastically improve these number going forward to keep the Tigers in 1st place. So far, so good as Cabrera has heated up lately and is in the midst of a 14 game hitting streak.
Ryan Raburn (2B/3B/OF) C-
(Avg. 302/HR 5/RBI 13)
Who would have thought that Ryan Raburn actually had a higher batting average than Miguel Cabrera in the 3rd quarter, but the numbers don’t lie. To be fair, Raburn had an abbreviated 3rd quarter thanks to the brief return of Carlos Guillen. While being a much maligned member of the Tigers this season, Raburn has actually been somewhat productive offensively for the team. He’s driven in 39 runs and has hit 11 HRs overall for the team. Both those numbers dwarf what has been put forth by fellow whipping boys Magglio Ordonez and Brandon Inge. Still, Raburn’s grade takes a huge hit thanks to his attrocious defense. He’s been just as awful at second as he has been in the outfield and his untimely errors have often seemed to led to huge innings by opponents.
Jhonny Peralta (SS) – B-
(Avg. 302/HR 5/RBI 13)
Jhonny Peralta has cooled down from his torrid first half, but he’s still a vital bat in the Tigers’ lineup. August has been a little bit of a struggle for Peralta (he had his first RBI of the month tonight), but he’s still hitting an impressive .308 for the season and should start to show more in the power department soon. Peralta’s defense has been very underrated and the 3rd quarter was no exception. Peralta only has 6 errors the entire season. While he had a fine 3rd quarter, the Tigers really need Peralta to start driving the ball again.
Alex Avila (C) – B-
(Avg. .277/HR 3/RBI 12)
It was truly a Jekyll and Hyde 3rd quarter for the Tigers backstop. Avila went the entire month of July with 1 RBI, but already has 11 RBI in August. His offensive numbers weren’t incredibly impressive overall in the 3rd quarter, but he was stout defensively and Avila is slowly developing into the one of the best all-around catchers in baseball. He doesn’t have the name of Joe Mauer, Matt Wieters or Carlos Santana, but he’s been better than any of those mentioned. A positive sign is that while many may have thought Avila’s hot start was as a fluke, he withstood his first major slump of the season and is once again driving in key runs for the Tigers.
Victor Martinez (C/DH) – A-
(Avg. 299/HR 1/RBI 20)
Victor Martinez has been exactly what Dave Dombrowski and Jim Leyland had hoped he’d be. A professional hitter. He doesn’t provide much defense, he’s slow and has lost most of his power, but he’s still probably the most important hitter in the lineup as he has provided valuable protection to Miguel Cabrera. If Martinez isn’t there, we’d once again see Cabrera walked nearly every at-bat. All of Detroit collectively held it’s breath when Martinez suffered what appeared to be a siginificant knee injury in Kansas City, luckily he’s been able to play through it.
Wilson Betemit (3B) – B
(Avg. 315/HR 2/RBI 11)
Betemit was acquired from the Kansas City but really hasn’t been used as much more than a platoon player under the direction of skipper Jim Leyland. Betemit has been a solid addition to the Tigers lineup, even if he is merely a mediocre fielder. You have to get the feeling that Leyland doesn’t quite trust Betemit yet, as Don Kelly, Ramon Santiago and Ryan Raburn are all still seeing time at third.
Carlos Guillen (2B) – D+
(Avg. 207/HR 2/RBI 11)
Carlos Guillen inititially provided a huge boost to the lineup and an improved glove in the field following his return from injury. But like a wayward puppy, Guillen eventually found his way back home to the DL. Carlos’ 3rd quarter stats were easy to round up since that’s the only quarter of the season he’s played in, and those stats aren’t too impressive. Despite hitting what might be the most recognized home run of the year (off Angels’ ace Jeff Weaver), Gullien has gone 4 for 37 since then and showed limited range in the field.
Ramon Santiago (2B/3B/SS) – B
(Avg. 310/HR 2/RBI 7)
The Tigers’ supersub is just that, a very good backup infielder. He has the best glove out of any infielder and occassionally shows some pop (he homered again last night). Leyland seems to count on Santiago for more that he’s capable of, playing him (or Don Kelly) far too often and leaving them in key at-bats (the 16 inning loss at Cleveland comes to mind) where they’ve failed to deliver. I like Santiago, just don’t like him everyday.
Don Kelly (anywhere) – D
(Avg. 173/1 HR/4 RBI)
A pretty terrible 3rd quarter for Don Kelly, which is probably why you’re seeing more of Santiago and less of Kelly as of late. Kelly had every opportunity to grab third base and become an everyday player, but he wasn’t able to, leading the Tigers to acquire Betemit. One interesting note, the Tigers were 19-13 when Kelly played in the 3rd quarter, despite his terrible stats.
Will Rhymes (2B) and Danny Worth (2B/3B) – Incomplete
Both Rhymes and Worth made cameo appearances with the Tigers in the 3rd quarter, however neither actually had an at-bat. These guys will likely be considered for the September call-ups, along with everyone’s favorite Tiger Brandon Inge.