Before you read this, it is important for you to know that I am not an Inge apologist.
In fact, I wrote an article earlier this winter entitled "Brandon Inge Isn't Happy, but Who Cares?".
I despised a lot of what Inge has been about over the past few seasons.
I hated that he fumed over getting moved back to catcher once Miguel Cabrera was brought over from Florida. I hated that his power numbers have plummeted over the past few seasons, and his strikeouts and errors have risen.
And I hate the fact that he makes me leave the room whenever he comes to bat with men on base.
And trust me, I have not forgiven him for the numerous times I have screamed at him from the comfort of my living room over his penchant for not shortening his swing when he gets two strikes on him.
But I am firmly rooting for him to succeed at second base, and I think that this team will be better if he flourishes.
This is an absolutely rock-solid Tigers lineup. They have offense at nearly every position, and some of the most elite hitters on the planet.
What they don't have, however, is great defense.
This should be okay on most nights as our pitching and hitting are good enough to get us past most opponents.
But we will need some hitting, and "color me skeptical" about Ryan Raburn.
Sure, he seems to always turn it on in the second half of the season, but we are always forced to deal with his lethargic hitting during the first few months.
This team can't afford another soft start from their second bagger.
In all honesty, Ramon Santiago should have the job free and clear. However, the management team has never fully trusted him, so he is resigned to a platoon gig.
That leaves Inge and Raburn competing for the right handed platoon-mate.
Inge definitely has the better arm, better range and better instincts in the infield.
Furthermore, he also has the more fervent fan base.
Raburn really is loved by nobody. Sure, when he is hitting we don't mind him. But we don't applaud him like the select few that are Inge apologists.
Those folks love Inge like his last name is really Tebow.
And in order for the Tigers to make CoPa the home field advantage that it should be, they will need every one of the fans to be excited about this team.
Even the Inge lovers.
But more than anything, I am rooting for Inge because of the idea of redemption.
Inge started out his career with Detroit, working his way through the minors for a hapless organization.
He was the catcher for the worst team in American League history in 2003, and was immediately replaced by Pudge Rodriguez, the first spark that turned into the fire that is our organization today.
He has been through a lot with this organization. And sure, he is well-paid. But pay only goes so far. You need to feel valued in your job, and what more value could you have than to redeem yourself to a fan base and organization that truly need you?
By all indications, Inge is taking this challenge very seriously. Everyone with a pen and paper will tell you how good he looks physically, and how much muscle he has gained in the off-season.
That's great. What else is great is the fact that he asked for this chance to win this job, and he put in the work to get it.
From time to time, we all need a story like this. Because if Brandon Inge can re-invent himself, why can't we?
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