Detroit Tigers: Is Jim Leyland Trying to Give Fans a Heart Attack?

Jay WierengaCorrespondent IApril 16, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 13: Manager Jim Leyland #10 of the Detroit Tigers sits in the dugout before the opening day game against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on April 13, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

I was getting ready to record the Detroit Tigers game yesterday while I took my dogs and my wonderful girlfriend out for a hike in the amazing Oregon wilderness, when something nearly put me into an anaphylactic shock.

I heard the lineup for the game, and was shocked that Brandon Inge would be the starting designated hitter.

Now, I have talked ad nauseum about why the Tigers should part ways with Inge, so I will not rehash that here.

But as I tried to wrap my mind around this latest lineup adventure by Leyland, a funny thought came through my mind.

Perhaps Leyland is just trying to push back at fans and the press.

It is no secret that Leyland's biggest pet peeve has got to be people questioning his lineup card. He sets his lineup for a reason, and he bristles more than usual when we have the gall to question his methods, or in this case, madness.

Let's approach this rationally.

Inge is a good fielder. Perhaps he is a great fielder, depending on whom you speak with.

Inge is not a good hitter. He has not averaged better than .261 since 2004, and hasn't even whiffed at .250 since 2006.

He doesn't hit for power anymore (only 16 total homeruns since 2009) and he doesn't get on base (OBP of .305 for his career).

He strikes out more than he walks (1184-417 for his career) and he miraculously strikes out more than he hits (1184-1081).

Last year, he hit .197 and was worse in Spring Training.

But Leyland wanted another right handed bat in the lineup against a tough lefty.

But Inge doesn't hit lefties that much better than he hits righties (.247-.223 over the last three years). He actually has more homeruns during that time against righties than he does lefties.

He also is a .214 hitter against the White Sox, so he had no real advantage their either and was hitless in two at bats against Chris Sale entering yesterday's game.

So, you take a guy whose only real skill at this point in his career is playing defense, and remove that part of his game entirely from this contest.

Stunningly flawed logic here.

Now, let's take a look at the guy he was replacing.

Brennan Boesch is a left-handed hitter. True, left handed hitters are notoriously bad against left handed pitchers.

But not Boesch.

Over the past three years, Boesch is hitting lefties much better than he hits righties (.319-.254) and this year it is even more lopsided (.400-.185).

Boesch just simply likes hitting against left-handed pitchers.

So what was the result? Inge looked completely lost in his at-bats, striking out on a curve ball in the dirt with runners in scoring position, and also popped out later in the game.

But more importantly, the opposition knows how limited Inge is. They know that he is no longer a viable player to plan for.

They actually somewhat fear Boesch, because he has mammoth strength, good speed and as stated earlier, he hits lefties so well.

So is this just another in a long line of Leyland gaffes, or is this his way of thumbing his nose at the media and fans?

I certainly don't know. But I think fans should be somewhat alarmed that Leyland continues to put his team in a position for failure.

Let's hope the team can keep bailing him out.

Stay tuned.