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Brandon Inge, the World Series and the Hardball Times Annual

I can’t think of a more polarizing Tigers’ player then Brandon Inge.  It seems like fans either love him or hate him.  Well, the haters have something to complain about because Inge and the Tigers inked a two year deal with an option for a third that should keep Inge at third base for at least the next couple of years.  They’re getting him for $11.5 million for the next two years.  They’ll pay him $5.5 million for the next two years then there’s the $.5 million buy out. If they keep Inge in 2013, they’ll pay him $6 million so it’s probably better to look at this as a 3 year, $17 million deal.  That’s a small bump down from the absolute amounts over the past three years but if you look at Inge’s four year deal that he signed prior to 2007, the overall numbers are about the same.

The question now is whether Brandon Inge is worth the money.  Inge had a quietly decent year at the plate and while his home run totals were way down, his .321 OBP was his best since 2005 and he actually had more extra base hits this year (36) then he did last year (34) in 17 fewer games. Of course most of those extra base hits didn’t leave the park and that’s the difference between the years.

One thing I either missed, or forgot that I saw, was that Brandon Inge is now the all time Tigers’ strikeout leader with 1109.  He passed Lou Whitaker some time last year and he joins Al Kaline and Norm Cash as the only four Tigers to strike out more then a 1,000 times (answer to the trivia question earlier today).

Of course Inge is known more for his defense so that makes the money worth it, right?  Well, Inge’s defense has taken somewhat of a downward trend depending on how you look at things.  If you look at runs saved at Bill James Online, Inge was pretty mediocre (one run saved, thirteenth best amongst third basemen) in 2010 after a good but not great 2009 (10 runs saved, eighth best).  While that’s not bad, it’s a far cry from Inge’s gold glove caliber seasons in 2006 and 2007.  The big question is, was the defensive decline because of the bad knees (which you’d hope would be in better shape next year) or is it just general decline because of age.  If it’s general decline, and Inge takes even a small step back at the plate, this contract could look like a bad one.  If he comes back and either shows he’s back to form at third or takes a further step forward at the plate (or even better, both), it’s probably going to be worth keeping Inge in the fold.

Also, congratulations to Inge for winning the Marvin Miller award for all of his charity work.  Curtis Granderson won it last year so the Tigers now have a two year hold on the award.

I’m watching game three as I watch this and while the Giants have put themselves back into the game, I can easily see the home team winning all seven games in this series.  The Rangers with Vlad Guerrero at DH is a much better team then when their pitcher has to hit and that might just be enough of an edge for Texas in their own ballpark as long as the pitching is there.  As far as predictions, I probably would have taken the Reds (sentimental, they’re kind of my adopted NL team and have been for the past few years) versus the Yankees so I wouldn’t have come close.  For now, I’m saying Giants in seven.

The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2011 is set to hit the shelves in the next couple of weeks.  You can still pre-order the book and it’s a great way to help out what’s, in my biased opinion, still the best free content site out there.

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