I always liked Eric Munson, and felt he got a bad deal in Detroit. The former first round draft pick (third overall) would play well down in the minors only to get brought up for a short time and get shelled. Then they move him to a spot he’d never played before, third base, and expected him to thrive. Munson would have flashes of what the Tigers expected from him when they drafted him so high, but most days, he was better suited for the bench then the lineup.
Munson had equally good minor league campaigns in 2001 and 2002. He hit .260/.375/.482 at AA Erie in 2001, and .262/.373/.493 at AAA Toledo in 2002. He also spent portions of both years playing for the Tigers but struggled mightily. he hit .152 in 66 at bats in 2001, and .186 in 59 at bats in 2002.
In 2003, the third base experiment began. Munson was drafted as a catcher, was summarily moved to first base, and with the logjam of 1b/DH types on the Tigers, his only shot was to learn a brand new position. He struggled, hitting only .240, with 18 homers.
2004 ended up being his last chance. He made some improvements defensively, improving from -12 Fielding Runs Above Average to 0 FRAR, but he struggled ever more at the plate. He hit only .210, but he had a career high 19 homers in 321 at bats.
He lost his starting job to Brandon Inge midway through the season and never won it back. When it was time to offer players arbitration, Inge got the contract and Munson got his walking papers. But now he’s got a second chance with the Twins. He signed a minor league contract with the Tigers’ division rivals, and has been invited to spring training.
This has “in your face” written all over it. I find it hard to believe he’ll make the team, because the Twins don’t have a lot of holes. But if they have one, it’s at third base with Corey Koskie leaving. I could see him getting a backup role, and really making the Tigers pay at some point in the season.