After batting .177 through 70 games this season, the Tigers finally sent Brandon Inge down to the minors after getting the memo that his bat wasn’t going to perk up any time soon. It took the Tigers front office four months to figure out what the average fan knew in four weeks: Inge is no longer a viable everyday player.
While Inge has always been a guy who a manager would bat in the bottom of the lineup, his performance was downright awful this year. Inge had struck out 60 times this year. Not bad right? The only bad thing is that he has only managed to get 38 hits. Also, third base is supposed to be a power-hitting position. Yes, Inge has managed to put up a couple of power seasons, but he has never hit 30 home runs in a season. A third baseman should be an extra-base hitter or a hitter with a high average. Not a guy who is a career .234 hitter.
If a hitter averages 139 strikeouts a season, he should be hitting 40 home runs a year, like Ryan Howard.
Some Inge supporters say that his defense at the hot corner makes up for his lack of offense, but even his defense has taken a dive. He made nine errors last year in 144 games. This year he’s made nine errors in only 70 games. His fielding percentage is .954 in 2011, and his career fielding percentage is .960.
Overall Inge’s career is in the dumps right now. Even if he did heat up, he’s only a career .234 hitter. That’s still a sub-par batting average, and it wouldn’t have made much of a difference in the Tigers' playoff run.
Wilson Betemit may be a below-average defender, but at least he isn’t an instant out. Without Inge, the Tigers have gotten rid of a good teammate and a good member of the community. But unfortunately those two admirable qualities do not equal wins, and at the end of the game that’s what matters.
Retirement would be the best option for Inge right now; even if he makes it back to the majors he’ll still be the same.