With spring training coming close to an end, many are still wondering who will play second base on Opening Day for the Tigers.
The Tigers seemed to be giving hints very early in spring training that Brandon Inge was going to play second base. General Manager Dave Dombrowski quoted that Inge was looking "phenomenal" while practicing at second.
While Dombrowski is likely giving Inge more credit than he deserves, he shouldn't even sound surprised that Inge has been looking decent at second. He spent most of his career playing third base, which is arguably the toughest of all infield positions. Now that Inge is at second, he now has a tad bit of extra time to react to a ball hit his way. Inge is not in bad shape for a 34 year old; and he knows his way around a diamond.
With that said, why aren't the Tigers giving Ryan Raburn a shot at being a starter? Is it because he has poor fielding skills?
The fact that Raburn has proven to be a very sub par fielder should be irrelevant for two reasons. One is that if the Tigers are going to use that logic, then they shouldn't be fielding Delmon Young or Miguel Cabrera. But they are. The offense will make up for this below average defense. The second reason is because Raburn has been hitting the cover off the ball during spring training. He has certainly given Jim Leyland something to think about, as Raburn's currently at six HR and 18 RBI this spring.
Raburn has been known for having some first half slumps; but in his defense, at least he didn't get placed for assignment last year like Brandon Inge did. Nobody has talked about Inge's hitting performance this spring, only his fielding.
The problem with this whole situation is that Brandon Inge is the Tim Tebow of baseball. He's a player who will draw a home crowd, sell lots of jerseys, but not get it done on the field. Inge is scheduled to make $6 million this year, which is the final year of his contract. But hey, if I was told to have a .235 career average and get booed by my home fans for $6 million, I would probably do it too.