The Detroit Tigers are running away with the American League Central Division. After adding all-world slugger Prince Fielder to an already potent offense, they cemented their position as the absolute class of the division and post-season shoe-in.
Wait. That isn’t true at all. The part about giving Prince Fielder all the dollars is true and their offensive is fearsome but the Tigers currently find themselves in a dogfight for position in the Central, trailing the Indians and White Sox by percentage points. Losing three of four to the (vastly superior) Texas Rangers before dropping a game to the lowly Seattle Mariners last night, things in Detroit are not quite ideal.
The Tigers vaunted offense has one more run scored through 17 games than it did last year after the same number outings. Too early to worry, we impartial observers can all agree. The Tigers are still the best team in the division by a wide margin. That hasn’t stopped some Tigers fans from worrying and/or lamenting the state of their batting order.
Which poor fool receives the brunt of the abuse for a still-good team underperforming lofty expectations? Why Brandon Inge, of course.
Brandon Inge is not really a good baseball player any more. He’s old and the years behind the plate take their toll on his overall production. After starting the season in the minors, Inge is currently mired in a dreadful slump. He has two hits in twenty plate appearances. No walks, one double (hit last night), one home run. Ugly. A few glaring misplays in the field (at a new position, second base) isn’t helping matters.
Despite being a bit player and quite literally the least of the Tigers concerns, Inge is catching Hell from the fans at Comerica Park in Detroit. Luckily, guy who continues trotting him out in the lineup has the Binge’s back (From MLive.com):
“I’m not asking anyone to change their opinions — I’m talking about fan-wise — but I think they’re carried away with the impact. That’s what I mean. I think people have to understand that it’s never one guy that’s going to make you win and it’s not one guy that’s going to make you lose. I think Brandon can contribute.”
When speaking of Brandon Inge, this is a gross understatement. Brandon Inge isn’t making or breaking anything for this or any team. He doesn’t play every day. He hits at the bottom of the order, against (generally) left-handed pitching only.
What about Austin Jackson? He sits in just as bad a slump, with two walks and two hits in his last 28 plate appearances. No ire for Jhonny Peralta, without a home run on the season? Prince Fielder hit two home runs in the second game of the season and hasn’t clouted one since!
The Tigers only need to worry about when Doug Fister will return – his health is the number one concern for the team at this point in the season. The offense features too many talented players to get bent out of shape worrying about mini slumps or the travails of Brandon freaking Inge. Inge is no sacred cow and will only scuffle for so long before the front office makes an increasingly easy decision to part ways. Relax, Tigers fans. I mean really.