Could Inge be disgracing his MLB exit by hanging on to the past?
As a career Tiger with a career .235 BA, and a tendency for flapping his mouth, Inge has captured the hearts of Detroit, for good or for worse.
Inge was the last man standing (striking out) in the 2006 World Series
In 2006, Inge had a good year and managed to be the last man at the plate in Game 5 of the World Series. While he's not to blame for being the last one to bat, Tigers fans have the image emblazoned in their minds.
The 2006 season is of less importance when looking at his career stats with the Tigers. Inge had one All-Star year, but failed to come close to that performance, in the years before or after.
The short of it, in 11 years with the Tigers, Inge boasted the following slash-line: .235./305./388
This isn't very good.
Miguel Cabrera, April 14th, 2012
When Miguel Cabrera heard Prince Fielder was a Tiger, he immediately started dropping pounds to prepare for a return to third base. This negated Inge, completely.
For years, Tigers fans justified Inge's presence in the lineup because of his defensive capability at third base. There's no denying he's been a strong defender of the hot corner in the past, but in 2011 his value as a defensive player far outweighed his value as a batter.
Inge was injured for a large portion of last year, but in 296 at-bats, he boasted a line of .197/.265/.283.
Cabrera is likely to finish the 2012 season as one of the league's worst defensive third basemen, but his bat will make up for any runs lost, errors committed and frowns frowned in Comerica Park.
Brandon Inge has hindered the development of minor-leaguers.
For some reason, Inge has been given a chance to hit instead of younger, faster, better-batting talents who have tried to bubble-up through the Detroit farm system.
In the past few years, players like Don Kelly and Danny Worth have been deprived of playing time because of Inge's preferential treatment by Tigers brass. There's no real explanation for it. Inge's veteran status seems to be the only factor playing a role in Jim Leyland's decision to start him instead of giving upstarts a chance to prove themselves with regular at-bats.
When Inge was informed that Prince Fielder was the Tigers' new first basemen, he promptly contacted manager Jim Leyland to ask if he could vie for a spot at second base. His motivation was that the position was currently being fought for by Ramon Santiago and Ryan Raburn. Leyland gave him the go-ahead to try out at second.
Spring training went well for Inge. He looked natural at second base and no one doubted he would, but in 50 at-bats, his spring training line was .180/.226/.300.
Inge still can't hit the ball.
The problem is, when Inge showed up late to the Tigers' spring training camp in Lakeland, Fla., his excuse was that he didn't want to "take anything away from Prince Fielder." (h/t mlive.com)
No fan base wants to see one of their longest tenured athletes become a dried cranberry. The sign of a great athlete is when they know when to exit the game before humiliating themselves.
Inge seems incapable of that. He had a good run at the end 2011, and he put up decent numbers in the playoffs, but the last few years, overall, have been a let down.
Tigers fans were proud and admirable of his choice to return to Triple-A after a poor first half of 2011, rather than be released outright, and he came back with a solid month of batting. But enough is enough.
Inge has done a lot for the Detroit area during his tenure as a Tiger, on the field and off, but he'd be better to bow out with grace rather than prolong his inevitable inconsistency at the plate, and end his career on a stubborn note.