On March 21, the Detroit Tigers traded Jose Alvarez to the Los Angeles Angels for Andrew Romine. Six months later, Romine should be the starting shortstop for the Detroit Tigers in the 2014 postseason.
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Romine has been the superior shortstop for the Tigers in the 2nd half of the season for the Tigers by a solid margin over Eugenio Suarez. Romine has a .245/.279/.302 split in the 2nd half which isn’t much to write home about, but when you compare it to Suarez’s .226/.296/.274 split, Romine is clearly the favorite.
When you take more recent sample sizes, the split between Romine and Suarez is wider. In the 28 days, Romine’s split is .311/.354/.333 while Suarez’s is .200/.263/.200 and only gets worse in the last 14 and 7 days respectively. Suarez’s strength was his bat and extra base power when he was called up from AA Erie, and he has not hit for any power in the 2nd half. Suarez’s slugging percentage was .485 in June when he hit 3 home runs in his first 8 games, 1 in his last 77 games, and zero in his last 37 games.
Defensively, there is not much of a competition between the two. Evenly splitting time at shortstop, the eye test and traditional statistics favor Romine. Using traditional statistics, Romine committed 8 errors in 82 games with a .975 fielding percentage. Suarez committed 10 errors in 82 games with a .968 fielding percentage. It also seems that Romine generally gets to more balls, makes more plays, and looks generally smoother in the field.
Advances defensive statistics can be tricky, but all of them favor Suarez, which may speak to how well he played and how poorly Romine played in the first half. Suarez’s UZR is -0.2 which is not good, but is better than Romine’s -1.5 UZR which is a measure of arm, double play ability, range, and error percentage above replacement.
Overall, Suarez’s WAR was 0.7 for 2014 and Romine’s was 0.1, but the contrast between the two players recently is too much to handle. Suarez looks helpless at the plate against right handed pitching, and not much better against left handed pitching. If Suarez is going to play in the postseason, it should be against left handed pitching only.
Romine has been the better shortstop in the 2nd half and especially in the month of September. Without Jose Iglesias, shortstop has been an interesting position for the Tigers in 2014, but Romine could be the steadying wave at short in the postseason. If he does struggle, Suarez will be ready and willing off of the bench.