Brandon Inge's Knee Isn't Just Killing Inge

Matt WallaceContributor ISeptember 11, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 26:  Brandon Inge #15 of the Detroit Tigers looks on against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium on August 26, 2009 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

I've been thinking about Brandon Inge quite a bit lately. One reason is at some point this season, I placed an over/under bet with my friend on the number of home runs he'd hit this season.

I put the number at 28 and my friend took the over. The next homer Brandon hits will mean my wife and I don't get a free "reasonable" night out. Assuming there is another home run after that, not only will we not get a free night out, we'll have to pay for my friend and his wife. So before I dig more deeply into my thoughts, I only ask that Brandon choose his spots wisely.

My own ill-advised wagers aside, there are other things that have had me pondering the Tigers' third baseman. The other day when he hit what turned out to be a game-winning grand slam, it dawned on me that all of his hits lately seem to be singles or home runs. Sometimes I have thoughts like this and when I finally sit down to check, it turns out I have selective memory. This was not one of those times.

Do you know the last time Inge hit an extra base hit that didn't clear the outfield fence? Aug. 4. Do you know what his hitting line is over that time, despite hitting a pretty respectable six home runs? He's played 33 games over that time and he's hitting an ugly .168/.202/.319. That's dreadful enough, but making that line even uglier is the knowledge that he's drawn just two walks while striking out 38 times.

This me me to wonder if his shortage of doubles was linked to his well-publicized knee injury. Naturally, I went back to when the injury was said to have happened. According to reports, that was the Jun. 23-25 series against the Cubs. Since he didn’t hit any doubles during that series, I didn’t worry about which game it was and just included all three as I looked at his numbers since the injury. 

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I have to admit I didn’t realize how bad he’s been at the plate. We’re talking approximately .188/.257/.335 with 14 walks and 74 strikeouts and just two doubles over that span. Before the injury he was hitting .274/.370/.511 and had nine doubles and a triple along with 16 homers. He also had walked 30 times against 66 strikeouts. These sample sizes are fairly similar in size, too. 

I’m not somebody who can really talk about the physics of a swing. I certainly can’t explain why the knee injury has almost completely removed his ability to hit balls into the gap for extra bases but hasn’t affected his home run numbers nearly as much.

Similarly, I can’t explain why it seems to have affected his strikeout and walk numbers so much, but that one seems a little more intuitive. I would assume he’s having to start his swing earlier and therefore showing worse judgment on balls and strikes. 

Inge was quoted in July as saying that to go on the disabled list he would need a guarantee he wouldn’t miss more than the required fifteen days. Perhaps the Tigers should have insisted on a guarantee that he could still produce like a major league ballplayer if he didn’t. 


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