Could Placido Polanco Return To Detroit?


Keeping up with all the rumors associated with the Tigers can be a full time job in and of itself. Adding the other major league teams makes it even more difficult. Word is, the Philadelphia Phillies have been expressing some interest in free agent 3B Aramis Ramirez. Now, I have no idea if the Phillies are going to be able to sign him or not, after all, they have Jimmy Rollins who they would like to bring back too, but if the Phils do bring in Ramirez, that will make ex-Tiger Placido Polanco expendable. In fact, even if they don’t bring in Ramirez, Polanco is more than likely available in the trade market.

“Polly”, as Polanco has been affectionately called by many in Detroit, has been a fan favorite of the Tigers for years. Many lamented after the 2009 season over the Tigers not offering Polanco arbitration to remain with the club. I particularly didn’t care, as I felt that Scott Sizemore would handle the 2nd base duties fine. A broken ankle and some impatience later, and Sizemore just didn’t work out in Detroit. Since the Tigers 2nd base situation has; to put it mildly, been a little bit of an issue since Polanco left, there is of course some sentiment amongst Tigers fans that bringing him back would be the right move. Especially since 2nd base is still an issue for Detroit. As well as 3rd base, Polanco’s other defensive home that he has been playing in Philadelphia for the past 2 seasons.

Polanco, at 36 years old, is no longer a spring chicken. However, due to the type of game he plays, his age really isn’t a major factor. The one area it may affect him is defensively if the Tigers were to deal for him and use him at the 2nd base bag. Range was never Polanco’s strong suit, but it can’t be getting any better from when the Tigers had him a couple years ago. He did win a Gold Glove at 3B in 2011 as well, and at this point in his career, 3B is probably the place where Polanco profiles defensively.

Polanco’s offense is another story. How do I put this nicely, since he is a good guy and a fan favorite? I just can’t.

Polanco is one of the least productive third baseman in baseball when it comes to putting the bat in his hands. The issue, and the reason I even brought him up here, is that he is a better option than the current crop of Tigers hitters. That reasoning alone doesn’t make a deal with the Phillies worth it though. The Tigers would’ve been better off with Wilson Betemit, and then subbing for him defensively in the later innings. Polanco hit .277 in 2011 with the Phillies, and while Tigers fans would probably kill for that, fans are often still living in the dark ages if they consider batting average all that important.

The problem is that for Placido Polanco, batting average means everything. Since the 2007 season, when Polanco tied his 2005 career high mark for OPS at .846, Polanco has seen a decline in his OPS every single season to just a paltry .674 mark in 2011. And that is hitting in the very comfortable confines of Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park. Polanco had an OPS of .568 away from Philadelphia last year, which, should I remind people is far away from Philadelphia. That is absolutely terrible. So much so, it is over 100 points less than what Don Kelly produced last season. Do Tigers fans really want that kind of production coming from their 3rd baseman? I would hope not.

Polanco still does have the ability to control the bat. His BB/K ratio last season was 42/44, so he does have a #2 hitters profile in a sense. He could hit behind a runner, but the Tigers problem of getting runners on would still persist. His OBP has been okay in the .335 area, but again, with BB% below 10%, it is largely dependent upon batting average, and that is on the decline. Without any slugging whatsoever and a low BB rate, there isn’t enough production to warrant trading for.

Polanco is slated to make 6.25M dollars in 2012. To obtain him, the Tigers would have to trade a relatively middling prospect I would suppose, however, taking on that salary to me wouldn’t make sense given the production you could get from Don Kelly would come at a much cheaper price.

I’m sure I may get a lot of people who disagree with me, but the Tigers should stay away from acquiring Polanco again. I remember his time fondly with the Tigers. I would like to continue doing so, as I don’t think the 2012 version can bring to the table what Polanco did 5 years ago.