One of the problems the Tigers have had to deal with this season on the offensive side is the lack of production from the two spot in the lineup. Brandon Inge has done a terrific job of getting on base from the lead off spot, but the two hole has been a different story. It takes a special hitter to be able to thrive in that spot in the lineup. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Alan Trammell has had to search for someone who can do the job. I think he’s found one. With Ugueth Urbina now the Phillies problem, the trade that sent him packing has netted perhaps a key component to turning the offense around. Placido Polanco is a great catch. The talented infielder will the give Tigers the solid number two man they have needed all season with Carlos Guillen in and out of the lineup. The numbers are very telling. Detroit has used a total of ten different players in the two spot this year. Until now, only Guillen has had some success in that spot. Guillen was batting .313 in the two hole, but he is currently on the DL. The Tigers as a team were hitting .243 from the two spot including Guillen’s numbers. Without Carlos in the lineup, they hit .209. The MLB average from the two spot is .266.
Mr. Polanco has quickly provided a spark to the lineup. In his four games with the Tigers, all in the #2 position, Placido is hitting a cool .438 (7-16) with four runs scored. Not only can he do it with the bat, but his glove is way above average as well. When I said he was a nice catch, I meant it literally.
The Tigers certainly have more to worry about than just the lack of production out of the two spot, but the addition of Polanco, with a healthy Guillen and Ordonez, should make this a potent lineup in the second half of the season.
Coors Field with 30,000+ fans for the Tigers/Rockies.
The big news here in Denver is the injury to first year phenom Clint Barmes. Apparently Mr. Barmes fractured his collarbone when he took a tumble while walking upstairs with a bag of groceries…er….deer meat. Nice. The injury has put the breaks on what was a terrific season for the rookie. Barmes was on pace to finish the season with a .328 average, 24 homers and 102 RBI. Those are Rookie of the Year type numbers. While Barmes’ injury can be classified as freakish, it may not take the cake. Consider these beauties: Outfielder Glenallen Hill missed some games because he hurt himself falling out of bed. He was having a nightmare about spiders and was trying to escape them…. pitcher Greg Minton once drove a nail through his pitching hand while trying to shoe a horse…. Bret Barberie was scratched from the lineup when he inadvertently rubbed chili pepper in his eyes… Steve Sparks once dislocated his shoulder trying to rip a phone book in half…Sammy Sosa sprained a ligament in his back when he sneezed violently….Denny Hocking broke his nose after hitting a walk-off home run. His teammates were waiting for him at home plate and started slapping him on the helmet. The bill slid down his forehead and crunched his nose. Okey Dokey then.
Here are some of the better rookie seasons posted by Tigers:
Player Year AVE HR RBI
Hank Greenberg 1933 .301 12 87
Willie Horton 1965 .273 29 104
Steve Kemp 1977 .257 18 88
Matt Nokes 1987 .289 32 87
Dave Rozema 1977 (15-7 3.09)
For the record, qualifications for rookie status and other rules and regulations can be found here.
From the upper deck at Dodger Stadium after spending the day shagging during early batting practice. I caught one and pretty much made a fool of myself the rest of the day.
With my partner Rod Allen and Tom Selleck. The only thing missing is the Tigers cap.
With Hall of Famer Vin Scully. Vin and Ernie Harwell are what baseball is all about.
The very top level of Dodger Stadium on a 75 degree day in Los Angeles. Not a sound in the ballpark. Stunning.
It’s hard to imagine sometimes that guys that have the ability to hit a 96 MPH heater or touch 99 on the radar gun are really pretty much like you and me. All players really are human just like us mortal folk. Therefore, in an effort to illustrate how normal our on field heros are, consider the following: Marcus Thames was once a substitute teacher in the off season, teaching middle schoolers math and English. I can see it now, "Mr. Thames, can I go to the bathroom?" "I don’t know Johnny, can you?. The proper word is ‘May I go to the bathroom?’ Now please put your hand down." Jeremy Bonderman was a member of the 4H club as a youngster. He would help raise sheep and pigs. Don’t know for sure if that’s where he learned to throw the ole horsehide. Kyle Farnsworth was cut from his high school team his junior year. How would you like to be the guy that had to deliver that news? Kyle also won a slam dunk contest once. Matt Ginter plays the banjo. In fact, he is often seen boarding the team flight with his case in hand. Omar Infante is known as one of the top chess players in the Tigers clubhouse. It’s no wonder that Troy Percival has become one of the top closers in all of baseball, his father was a firefighter. Rondell White once went one-on-one with Michael Jordan. Jordan visited Rondell’s high school once for a clinic and when they were finished, White had a chance to go up against the best of all time. The result? "He let me score a couple of times, then he started knocking the ball out of my hands." That’s OK, Rondell, you can hit a curve ball. Michael never could.
So there you have it. Some stuff that you may, or may not have known, about Detroit’s big leaguers.
By the way, as the Tigers prepare for their series against the Dodgers tonight in LA, have you ever wondered where that nickname came from?
You have to love what Rondell White has done the last three weeks. A career high hitting streak that reached 18 on Thursday and a batting average well over .300. However, Alan Trammell is the first to admit that White is not your prototypical cleanup man. The Tigers in fact have been searching for a number four hitter since Magglio Ordonez when down with a hernia in the first month. As Mom always said, "You can’t have any dessert unless you clean your plate."
Detroit has used five different cleanup hitters this season. To illustrate how important the loss of Ordonez has been to this team, consider the following numbers. Through June 1st, the Tigers had a total of 19 RBI out of the cleanup spot, the lowest total in the A.L. They also had only three homers from the four spot, ranking them 12th out of 14 A.L. teams. The thirteen walks from the four hole is also 12th in the league, indicating perhaps that opposing pitchers are not as willing to pitch around the cleanup man in the Tigers order as they are with other clubs.
This is where Ordonez comes in. Since 1999 he has averaged .313 with 23 HR and 84 RBI a season in the cleanup spot. Not too shabby. In fact his RBI and batting average totals rank among the best in the American League. Also, since 1999, only Carlos Delgado (710) and Manny Ramirez (701) have knocked in more runs from the four hole than Ordonez (506) in the A.L. The Tigers are patiently waiting for Mags to return to the lineup, hopefully around the All Star break. In the meantime, if they can stay close, the offense could get a big boost in the second half. After all, the White Sox have to come back to the pack eventually…right?