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Tigers’ odd defensive alignment includes Ryan Raburn at designated hitter

Apr 5, 2012, 11:51 AM EDT


As expected the Tigers’ defensive alignment for Opening Day is a weird one.

Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, and Delmon Young are all in the lineup and yet the designated hitter is … Ryan Raburn, who’d be a better third baseman than Cabrera, a better first baseman than Fielder, and a better left fielder than Young.

Raburn is hardly a standout defender, but he’s started big-league games at second base, third base, first base, and all three outfield spots. Jim Leyland has seen fit to play him at second base for 778 innings and in center field for 173 innings during previous seasons, yet has determined the best defensive alignment for a team with no fewer than three terrible defenders involves Raburn not even using his glove.

Poor guy.

I’m pretty convinced that the Tigers will coast to the AL Central title this season, but if there’s anything capable of keeping them from the playoffs the inability to turn balls in play into outs would seemingly be it. Of course, having said that Justin Verlander will probably throw a no-hitter today.

  1. yankeesfanlen - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    Ummmmm……Perhaps LaRussa is hanging in there a little longer than anticipated. Are they expecting him in SuperChampionMegaAllWorldHeadquartersMLB in New York.

  2. hgfrombc2 - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:07 PM

    I’ve heard it said that opinions are like a$$holes – everybody’s got one but no one wants to see yours!
    So leave the lineup decisions to the guys who get paid for it and keep your speculation/opining to yourself.

    • - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:15 PM

      Some of this is on you, you know.

      After all, what are you doing reading a website, clicking on a story, and then commenting on a story that is obviously opinion and speculation? If you don’t want to hear opinion and speculation?

    • uberfatty - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:29 PM

      must be tough never having normal human interaction with other people – let me know how you do it.

    • Jeremy Fox - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:37 PM

      Yes! Never question any decisions made by anyone who’s paid to make them! Being paid a salary to make decisions guarantees that your decisions will be correct! That’s why bad decisions are only made by unemployed people, retired people, and small children!

      And if you do question decisions made by people who are paid to make decisions, keep your opinion to yourself! Definitely don’t post your opinion in the comments on a blog where people who don’t want to read other people’s opinions can see it!

      Apologies if you were actually kidding, hgfrombc2. Part of me thinks your comment is so laughable that you’ve *got* to be kidding, but another part of me remembers that most of the time when I think someone’s *got* to be kidding, they turn out to be totally serious.

    • jlhc5530 - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:45 PM

      Scoff! This is just precious. God forbid the internet would have an opinion you don’t like.

    • hasbeen5 - Apr 5, 2012 at 4:52 PM

      When walking to the keyboard for that post, did you play Metallica’s lesser known single, “Enter Douchebag?”

  3. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:08 PM

    I thought Inge was their DH. When he got hurt, I was sure they would call Adam Everett to see if he would un-retire to DH for them. It makes just as much sense.

    That said, I am sure this first game is more about making a statement about these big guys playing the field. I imagine Young, Fielder and Cabrera will each see plenty of DH ABs.

  4. jboogie72 - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:09 PM

    Let me be the first to say “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?”!!!! Rayburn could have the worst glove in all of baseball. The only reason he’s even on the roster is because he’s Leyland’s nephew.

    • primetime0552 - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:21 PM

      I have to agree. I watched almost every tigers game every year and Raburn is awful with his glove. He makes stupid mental mistakes as well which will cause balls to get past him and turn singles into extra base hits. He will do just fine at DH.

  5. 3yardsandacloud - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    I don’t buy your theory at all. Rayburn’s glove is not good enough to play first or third. He can play second, but he’s runner up to Inge there. He’s had a hot bat this spring, that’s why he is DHing, plus, I’m betting there is a trade in the works.

    • primetime0552 - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:23 PM

      He is better than Inge. Inge shouldn’t of even made the team! If it wasn’t for his huge salary he would have been cut. DD has said he has tried to trade Inge but nobody will touch him. He has also stated he isn’t going to cut Inge and just eat the salary. Why they gave him a new contract last season I have no idea.

      • primetime0552 - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:25 PM


      • mlmh1 - Apr 5, 2012 at 7:29 PM

        He had contract for one reason and this is his last year. Inge is a very good player. He has had some bad luck but I am sure he will come back strong. He is a valuable player and it would be a shame to let him go.

  6. ajcardsfan - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    I don’t know how Raburn is defensively, I don’t watch Tiger’s ball. In my eyes it would be better to put Fielder at DH to prevent his body from breaking down as he ages.

  7. kopy - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    Is Raburn the outfielder who lost the ball in the Metrodome lights during Game 163, leading to the Twins’ comeback? Not that it’s a solid indicator of overall defensive performace, I’m just curious, I guess.

    • pestiesti - Apr 5, 2012 at 8:34 PM

      YES!!!! *sobs*

  8. dt - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:17 PM

    I think that everyone who has watched the Tigers will say, without exception, that Raburn is the worst defender on the team and nobody wants to see him in the field under any circumstances, ever.

    Maybe his range is better, or his arm is better, or other things about him make him a better fielder on paper, but the number of groan-inducing plays he frequently makes (or doesn’t make) certainly lead the majors.

  9. weaselpuppy - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:20 PM

    Terrible article….watch any Tiger games at all? He’s not capable of playing 3b at a minor league level….really terrible….He’s not played enough 1b to say anything about his ability there, but we KNOW he has an iron glove at 2b and 3b….he can play LF, as he has good range and an above average arm, though he gets bad jumps, bad angles and gets turned around….but he’s a LOT better there than DY2, who runs like a fat geisha…

    are you sure you don’t write for FanGraphs? They hate everything the Tigers do.

    go into political writing, as there is no fact checking or repercussions for lies there….

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:43 PM

      it’s hilarious how many of you are bashing Craig for suggesting Rayburn, when the alternatives are playing Cabrera at 3rd and Fielder at 1st. And you think Rayburn is bad defensively…

      • natstowngreg - Apr 5, 2012 at 1:57 PM

        The best alternative is putting Miggy or Prince at 1B and DH’ing the other. Then Raburn could play 3B. It’s not clear how much of this problem is about Prince’s and Miggy’s egos, and how much is Leyland’s idea.

  10. detroitcityryda - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:21 PM

    they will score plenty runs defense won’t be needed

    • kopy - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:31 PM

      But the whole point is that putting Raburn on defense and DHing Young, Cabrera, or Fielder won’t reduce the number of runs they score.

  11. Francisco (FC) - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    Leyland must have been seeing those critters from the Marlins race when he drew up this lineup.

  12. geo91 - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    Inge is garbage and shouldn’t be on the roster. Go back to Toledo or just quit

  13. mpic92 - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    Ryan Raburn my not be a polished outfielder, but there is absolutely no excuse for Delmon Young playing left more than him.

    Raburn is a +18 on defensive runs saved in LF in his career; Delmon is -38 (obviously with a lot more playing time, though).

    Raburn has a 6.7 UZR in LF, 6.8 UZR/150; Delmon is -46.4 UZR, -14.0 UZR/150.

    • pestiesti - Apr 5, 2012 at 8:49 PM

      I’m a little sceptical of that UZR number for Raburn. Much of that was a sudden improvement last year. I’m doubting that that is sustainable.

  14. - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:30 PM

    Bad Defense, the new market inefficiency

  15. frank433 - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    The ignorance of some Tigers fans make me ashamed to say I’m a Tigers fan.

  16. jboogie72 - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    mpic you forgot fielding percentage, or did you know Rayburn’s is terrible and that’s why you left it off? Face it Rayburn will undoubtably commit the dumbest fielding errors possible on routine plays, but will probably come up with some big hits here and there. Trade off I guess. I just feel like Rayburn is the new Carlos Gullien, the inept defender that Leyland will keep trotting out game after game. I can only hope most of his playing time will come at DH.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:46 PM

      mpic you forgot fielding percentage

      Absolutely terrible stat, it should be banished to the history books along with batting average.

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