Sunday, August 29, 2010

Five reasons why you don't like Brandon Inge (and why you really should)

By Matt Harding
In Play on Facebook

You either love him or hate him, but you don't waver in your views, do you? I admit, a lot of the reasoning I've heard for fans liking Brandon Inge isn't a good reason to like a player. Of course, he's a hit with the ladies, and a hit with loyalists, who always seem to note he's the longest-tenured Tiger. And you can't brush over the "he's such a good third-baseman" remarks. But then, there are those who despise Inge; they hate him with every gut they have.

Looking through a post on the Detroit Tiger's Facebook page entitled 'I hate Brandon Inge,' personally, I can't help but think, "Why?!" Friends, fans, and others I know can't stand Inge; talk radio in Detroit feels the same way. I, however, do not. And neither should you! Here's five reasons why you dislike Brandon Inge (and why you shouldn't):

5. "He sucks": I hear this one all the time! No valid reason. Just a simple "he sucks." One anonymous post on goes as far as saying Inge is a "whiny [expletive]." To that, I say Inge is about the toughest ballplayer I know. He'll try his best to be out there for all 162 games. If he, for instance, breaks his hand, as he did this season, he'll get back quicker than expected. Instead of 4-6 weeks, he made it two and a half. Not to mention he's been playing on injury-prone knees for the past few seasons. He only missed a single game in 2009, which topped the league. If you want to say he sucks, try your best to have a valid reason.

4. (tie) "Too many errors": With a fielding percentage of .980, Inge ranks third among MLB's third basemen who've played 90+ games. His six errors rank third lowest in all of baseball. The two players he's behind are the same in both categories and have played 10-20 less games than Inge (Placido Polanco and teammate Jhonny Peralta (who's been playing shortstop; listed as third baseman)). He really is the best defending third baseman in baseball.

4 (tie). "He can field, but that's it": While this conflicts the other #4, it's why a lot of fans show disdain for Inge, so I felt the need to include it. "Oh, so what? Another web gem. Look at that batting average..." Continue reading for two more reasons to love Inge, and show a little less contempt. He really can do more than field.

Brandon Inge: the man with the gold glove and golden arm
Photo by Matt Harding / In Play! Magazine

2. "He strikes out too much": Maybe so. But if you think I don't have a rebuttal, you are incredibly wrong. With 101 K's, he ranks 40th in all of Major League Baseball. Players with more than Inge include David Wright, B.J. Upton, Ryan Howard, and the highly touted Tiger rookie Austin Jackson. Yes, behind Jackson he ranks second in strike outs for the Tigers, but it has to be expected from Inge. For every K, he'll get a hit. To this point, he has exactly 101 K's to 101 base knocks. While he does go down swinging often, he'll make up for in fielding, leadership, and clubhouse presence.

1. "He can't hit above .250": To that, I say, "You couldn't either!" But, in all seriousness, this doesn't matter. To this point, Inge is hitting .254. No, this isn't ideal. And yes, he could be hitting better. Still, the average ranks him sixth on the team among players who have 300+ at-bats. Similarly, he ranks fourth in RBI (53), fifth in home runs (9), and fifth in on-base percentage (.330). Also, to those who think he's overpaid, he gets $6.6 million this year. For the work he's putting in, it's worth it. (Think Dontrelle Willis).

Inge prepares to go to the plate
Photo by Matt Harding / In Play! Magazine

I know, you still either love or hate B.I. and I've done nothing at all to persuade you. At least I gave the Inge-lovers some good reasons why he doesn't suck, instead of the usual "he's always friendly and smiling" statements. And maybe, just maybe, I did manage to give the Inge-haters reason enough to say, "I guess he's not that bad after all." Fat chance.

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