Sep 21, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop A. Romine (27) makes a throw to first for an out against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
No, Virginia, a “Detroit Super-Sub” is not a new sandwich created by owner Mike Ilitch’s marketing empire to help meet his ever-increasing Detroit Tiger payroll.
Maybe it’s not such a bad idea, though, especially if it was named after the Detroit Tigers’ über utility man, Andrew Romine.
As is often the case with professional athletes, the versatile Romine comes from a baseball family. His father Kevin played for the Boston Red Sox, and his brother Austin is a catcher in the New York Yankee organization.
After an extended gig last year as the Tigers’ starting shortstop, Romine has returned to a more familiar role as a back-up, and in the process has enhanced his usefulness to the team–with the possible exception of center field, at last count he was capable of playing every position on the field.
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For good measure, he even served as an emergency pitcher last September for the Tigers.
Now that in itself should impress everyone this side of Don Kelly, but in reality Romine’s defensive work is largely confined to third base (as a late-inning replacement for Nick Castellanos) and shortstop (on days Jose Iglesias needs a rest).
Defensively, Romine adheres to the universal oath taken by medical doctors and baseball utility players alike: “First, do no harm.”
As a shortstop he has decent range, which bumps up a notch when assigned to the hot corner. His soft hands, strong, accurate arm, and sound baseball instincts serve him well, regardless of where he’s stationed.
Generally managers do not expect much offense from utility guys, and with a career batting average of .245, over the years Romine has certainly produced his share of “cold cuts” with a bat in his hands.
In the early going this year, though, Romine has delivered not only with the glove, but with his bat and legs as well.
In a limited number of at bats, he’s hitting .500, with an OPS of 1.088. For comparison purposes, Miguel Cabrera‘s OPS is 1.039.
Now for one of those rare insider tips you get only by reading Motor City Bengals–it’s a pretty good bet Cabrera will finish the season with a higher OPS than Romine.
Nonetheless, Romine has proven he can provide quality at bats to the team, particularly as a right handed hitter, where he’s slashed a career .315/.351/.370. Conversely, he tends to scuffle from the left side, as indicated by his .227/.289/.259 career line.
Like the archetypal utility man, Romine also brings speed to the table. Last year he stole 12 bases in 14 attempts, and has already purloined three in this young season. In this capacity his ability on the base paths dovetails nicely with the Tigers’ renewed emphasis on aggressive base-running.
The Bottom Line
The baseball season is a marathon, and throughout the course of the year each member of the 25-man roster is asked to contribute in some fashion.
As the Tigers’ 24th player (only Hernan Perez sees less action), Andrew Romine has a difficult job. He sometimes sits for extended periods, but when summoned is expected to produce at a high level.
To date he’s performed admirably in that role.
But the truth is, Romine will never have a sandwich named after him.
He’ll never be a “Hero”, a “Whopper”, or a “Big Dog”.
But there are worse indignities in life than being known as a sub that delivers.