Detroit Tigers: Players with the Intangibles
When the Detroit Tigers are playing, are there any players that you absolutely must watch at the plate? Are there some you could care less about?
There are reasons why you have to watch certain Detroit Tigers and there are reasons why there are players that bore you to tears. Some of those reasons can be easily measured with statistics, but many of those reasons are due to the intangibles that are often hard to define and measure.
According to the book Intangiball by Lonnie Wheeler (published in 2015 by Simon & Schuster), Branch Rickey first described an intangible when he said: “Statistics, of course, cannot tell the whole story. They fall short of bridging the gap between human expectancy and fulfillment. They cannot measure such intangibles as intelligence, courage, disposition, and effort” (16).
Another great way to determine if a player has the intangibles came from another quote in the book by Wheeler. During the 2000 season, a media relations assistant was watching Adam Dunn, then a member of the Cincinnati Reds, at the plate. The assistant commented on how Dunn was “the only guy on the ballclub who makes me stop what I’m doing and watch when he comes to bat” (3).
While baseball and sabermetrics continue to over analyze the game, it is important to continue to look at the intangibles. When it comes to the trade deadline, recognizing those subtle things that separate men with the similar numbers can make or break the second part of the season.
When it comes to the Detroit Tigers, there are clearly Tigers who have the intangibles that set them apart from the rest. When it comes to baseball intelligence, no one shows it more than Ian Kinsler. Remember the catch he intentionally missed? There is no way to show that intelligence in sabermetrics. How many baseball players would even consider doing that? Probably not many.
Think of the season before and after Cameron Maybin. There are plenty of things to forget about from Pre-Maybin days (Tyler Collins, Anthony Gose) and there are plenty of things to remember Post-Maybin. He brings an excitement that other players feed off of. His disposition cannot be measured like his batting average or the number of double plays he grounds into. But, his disposition helps the team get more hits, runs, and wins.
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Of course, Miguel Cabrera is full of intangibles. Who doesn’t stop what they are doing to watch Miggy at the plate? Fans never know what is going to happen, how far the ball will go, and what he will do as he rounds the bases. It’s difficult to turn away when he’s playing defense – because of his disposition. There are moments when he makes defensive plays that he shouldn’t physically be able to make. And, we, as fans, get so upset when umpires mistreat or make poor calls on him because he knows baseball so well.
Even if you no longer like what Justin Verlander does, there is no denying the intangibles that he brings to the team. Other than Michael Fulmer, what other Detroit Tigers pitcher to more people choose to watch – simply because he brings so much effort to the mound. Do his intangibles makes a difference to the team? Definitely. As a team leader, it is obvious that the player behind him want to make outs and score runs. It makes one wonder if the team feels the same way about Mike Pelfrey (think about the lack of run support he gets).
Next: So Many Wrongs at the All-Star Game
When it comes to the intangibles, what Detroit Tigers players are “must-see” for you?