The following is a reader column submitted by friend of THB Scott Kirsch. Follow him @srkirsch.
I would first like to acknowledge Ryan Raburn’s grand slam that helped the Tigers beat the White Sox for the eleventh time in twelve tries. He took advantage of Jake Peavy leaving a hanger in the middle of the plate and crushed it. That said, Jim Leyland’s frustrating and bewildering decision to keep Raburn in the lineup day in and day out is getting to me.
Raburn is batting an ugly .201 this year and has no problem constatnly reminding us of his shortcomings in the field. I won’t even mention the assist he gave Miguel Olivo seen here (whoops). Although it seems like Raburn is a young player who just got called up from the minors, the truth is, he’s 30 years and is showing very few signs of being a reliable option at second.
There are two other options on the Detroit bench that seem like downright logical answers for second base. Making Danny Worth a regular starter and giving him an opportunity to show off his abilities seems like perhaps the best option. He’s hitting .333 this year, albeit a small sample. The kid also flashes the leather. His age, 25, is a plus and giving him the starting job at second, at least until the all-star break, may boost his confidence and give him ample experience to make him part of the future.
The other option is the timeless Ramon Santiago. He is obviously a better fielder than Raburn and although he may not hit for the same power as Raburn, he always seems to put a bat on the ball, making good things happen, which is particularly impressive for someone getting only 10-15 at bats a week .
The biggest problem that I have with Ryan Raburn stems from something out of his control. And that’s Jim Leyland’s lineups. He had him second for a large portion of the season. The Tigers have the worst production in the league from our one, two, and three hitters and it is 100 percent Leyland’s fault. I can deal with leaving Jackson as the leadoff hitter (even though it still does not make sense to have a .230 hitter threatening to break the strikeout record there), but not having Avila and Peralta batting 2 and 3 at this point is insane. Avila has finally caught up to his swing that makes me feel like I am about being seduced every time he hits the ball and Peralta has found his old bat in Detroit. With Cabrera’s protection from VMart, the Tigers need people on base so they can drive them in. However, Leyland seems to have a weird criteria that if you hit above .250 you are ineligible to hit in the one through three spot.
A quick side note, Don Kelly’s quality play at third base yesterday probably just ruined Brandon Inge’s already rough week. Inge’s bat is nothing special and was always known for his fielding capabilities, which Kelly quickly demonstrated are on par with Inge’s. (Editor’s note here: The views in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Honolulu Blue. Check that. I’ll just say I hate Don Kelly..moving on -WF)
The Tigers have a great shot of winning the central this year. The Twins are done. The White Sox are receiving inconsistent pitching and hitting, going nowhere, especially if Danks (0-8) can’t turn his season around. While the Indians are off to a hot and surprising start, they do not have enough quality starting pitchers to last all summer (although there bullpen is very strong). They’ve come back to earth in the last 15 games. And the Royals are just a few 7 field players and 4 pitchers short of pulling it off this year.
Here is my “Why isn’t this our lineup every night?” lineup:
Jackson – CF
Avila – C
Peralta – SS
Cabrera – 1B
Martinez – DH
Boesch – RF
and any combination of Kelly 3B/Santiago or Worth 2B/and Utility LF at 7,8,9.
With Verlander, Scherzer, Porcello and the beautifully bearded Penny, who is proving me wrong every time he gets the game ball, the Tigers do not need to win every game with their bats, but we shouldn’t be giving extra at-bats to players that should be at the bottom of the order. So will Leyland continue to put out idiotic lineups? I guess we will have to wait and see or maybe just wait until Dave Dombrowski finally finds the correct solution to this whole issue. Fire him.