Forget about the statistics as we reach the second month of the 2009 season. Instead, let's look at the pros and cons and decide who should be the starting shortstop for the Detroit Tigers.
This should be the toughest decision that manager Jim Leyland will face all year.
Ramon Santiago is an excellent fielder who has very good range and will give you decent numbers at the plate. Not to mention, he's a switch hitter.
Although Santiago has below-average power, he is a good contact hitter and draws a lot of walks. He is always a threat on the base paths and is an incredible athlete.
However, the cons with Santiago are his strikeouts and his health. Since his major league debut in 2002, he has played in only 378 games, and most have been in part-time roles.
Santiago's two seasons in Seattle were injury-plagued, which makes you wonder if he has the longevity to make it through a grueling Major League season in a full time role.
Adam Everett is a top-notch fielder with range that could possibly rival the great Ozzie Smith. His abilities on the base paths are very good, but the appeal about Everett is his defense.
You will not find too many everyday shortstops who can rival Everett's abilities in the field. In spite of this, Everett possesses little power and struggles at the plate with runners in scoring position.
When it comes down to it, I believe you have to look at the back end of the lineup to make this decision. The difference is Santiago is historically pretty strong from the left side of the plate. That will probably generate more runs against right handed pitching with Santiago rather than Adam Everett. Take a look at what the lineup could look like facing right-handed starting pitchers, which will happen about 115 games:
1. Curtis Granderson CF—Left
2. Placido Polanco 2B—Right
3. Magglio Ordonez RF—Right
4. Miguel Cabrera 1B—Right
5. Carlos Guillen DH—Switch-hitter
6. Gerald Laird C—Right
7. Brandon Inge 3B—Right
8. Josh Anderson LF—Left
9. Ramon Santiago SS—Switch-hitter
Look at hitters eight through one. The Tigers would have three left-handed bats putting pressure on the pitchers and getting on base in front of hitters like Polanco, Ordonez, and the power-hitting phenom that is Miguel Cabrera.
This lineup would consistently score eight to 10 runs a game.
When in comes to decision time, Jim Leyland has to give Ramon Santiago a chance to showcase the back end of this Tigers lineup.