Consistently inconsistent is the best way to describe the Detroit Tigers 2011 season. Despite a terribly uncompetitive division, the Tigers have been unable to play above a mediocre level and find themselves with a razor-thin 1.5 game lead over the Cleveland Indians.
Last week I ranked the Tigers top 10 MVPs this season. Several Tigers are having strong years and should be commended for it. However, as has been the story of the season, for every up there has been a corresponding down to the season.
The player performances are no exception. This is clearly shown in the offseason signings on the left side of the infield by Dave Dombrowski.
Jhonny Peralta, is having a career season and has thrived hitting behind Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. After signing a modest two-year $11.25 million contract, Peralta leads AL shortstops in hitting and RBI and has played better than expected defense.
Conversely, Brandon Inge was signed to a nearly identical contract and now finds himself as the starting third baseman for the Toledo Mudhens.
What follows is a list of the eight guys who have contributed the most to the Tigers "downs" this season. If they want to win the AL Central, at least a couple of these guys are going to have to get it turned around immediately.
After a ridiculous 2010 with the Tampa Bay Rays, Joaquin Benoit was signed to a hefty three-year, $15.5 million deal to be the set-up man for the Tigers.
After a string of five innings in which he allowed 12 earned runs in late April to early May, Benoit has been much better the last couple of months.
Overall, Benoit has been decent but based upon his prior season and what he was paid, he's been a moderate disappointment for Detroit and deserves to be on the bottom of this list.
Like Benoit, Austin Jackson has been much better since his horrendous start.
After bottoming out at .154 in mid-April, Jackson has hit .269 since then. However, after finishing as the runner-up in the AL Rookie of the Year ballot last season, much more was expected of Jackson.
He's hitting a paltry .203 with RISP and has failed to get a big hit time and time again.
Still, Jackson has shown slightly more power this season—proving that he may someday eclipse that elusive double-digit barrier in home runs.
Here's where it starts to get good on this list.
Like Charlie Sheen at a cocaine buffet, David Purcey has shown control problems.
Twice in the last week in pressure situations, Purcey has failed to find the strike zone leading to ugly losses by the team. He's quickly proving that he's not someone who can be depended on.
Purcey has blamed his control issues on trying to "aim" the ball. Looks like he needs a sight adjustment.
The fact that Purcey is able to crack this list despite only being on the team for half the season is impressive, but so is his 14 earned runs in his last seven innings of work.
With Brandon Inge out of town, Purcey is quickly becoming the object of the Tigers fans' boos.
The only reason that Ryan Perry isn't higher on the list is because his time in Detroit this season has been so limited due to his frequent demotions.
The good news, however, is that he gets a free ride with one more puchase of the Greyhound ticket from Detroit to Toledo.
Perry's afwul season has been masked by the acquistion of Al Albuquerque, who has filled in the role that Perry and/or Joel Zumaya were expect to hold.
A quick scan of Perry's numbers might leave you momentarily blind. His .170 WHIP looks good compared to his 6.85 ERA.
Once thought as the closer of the future, Perry is quickly becoming the grocery bagger of the future.
Ryan Raburn's expected role as the 2011 Tigers' 20 HR/80 RBI corner outfielder has quickly been assumed by Brennan Boesch.
Raburn has swung and missed more times than a couple of NBA centers in a brawl.
He's struck out 20 of 24 times when he's had an 0-2 count on him and 89 times overall this season finding himself back in a utility role.
The only thing worse than Raburn's offense has been his defense, leaving Jim Leyland with the daunting task of finding somewhere to hide him.
Phil Coke's move to the starting rotation was about as successful as the introduction of New Coke.
Just like they did with the original recipe of Coca-Cola, Jim Leyland tinkered with something that wasn't broken to create an abomination.
Give Phil Coke credit, he's consistent. He's been awful as both a starter and reliever this season.
The Tiger's desperately need Coke to regain his 2010 form, as his arm is sorely needed to shut down opposing left-handed sluggers.
Jogging down the line for inning-ending double plays, tip-toeing in the outfield to turn routine pop flys into doubles and power numbers that would make Nook Logan blush—these have been mainstays with Magglio Ordonez this year.
His lack of power is causing Tigers' fans to nickname him "Singlio Ordonez," and despite hitting in front of one of the best hitters in the game, his inning ending speed is slowly turning Miguel Cabrera into the most feared leadoff hitter in the history of baseball.
Magglio has heated up a little at the plate lately, and actually had a couple of crucial hits, but overall his production has been terrible this year for someone that was expected to set up the offense for Cabrera.
It'll be interesting to see how long Jim Leyland will risk his future by hitting Ordonez third and playing him in the field.
Want a slap-in-the-face stat? Ordonez actually has fewer RBI this season than Brandon Inge.
Wilson Betemit has twice as many hits in his first eight games with Detroit as Inge did in his last 19 as a Tiger.
Inge's anemic bat and deteriorating defense have earned him an authentic Mudhens jersey. Despite his lack of production, Inge has been as popular as an auto-bailout in Detroit with some fans.
Here is one person's theory why. While I can't say I agree, it's about as valid a theory as any to explain Inge's perplexing popularity.
Despite Inge's recent exit from Detroit, it's not hard to envision him back in the Old English D again before the end of the season right where he should be—disappointing us with bases-loaded strikeouts.