Why Brandon Inge Will Succeed with the Oakland Athletics

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 30:  Brandon Inge #18 of the Oakland Athletics takes batting practice before a game with the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park April 30, 2012  in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by J. Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Daniel Mano HerberholzCorrespondent IMay 7, 2012

There's no question that Brandon Inge is finally an answer to the third base dilemma plaguing the Oakland Athletics.

First and foremost, Inge can perform at the major league level—unlike Oakland's other options.

Since last year's starter Scott Sizemore suffered a season-ending left knee injury, the A's have been trying to fill that role.

So far the choices are flat out terrible.

Josh Donaldson still needs times in the minors. Eric Sogard can't seem to adjust to the big leagues. In addition, each moved from other positions.

Luke Hughes was a last-ditch effort to patch up the platoon.

The three combined to hit 11-for-93 this year, a .115 average. That isn't nearly good enough if Oakland wants to continue competing this season.

Inge, on the other hand, will perform well enough.

The veteran from Virginia has hit 140 home runs and 590 RBI toward 7.9 offensive wins above replacement (total) over the course of his career, suggesting he can hold his own at the plate.

It's true that Inge did have an awful year at the plate in 2011.

Despite hitting for a combined .238 and 40 dingers in the two previous seasons, Inge's performance dropped to .197 and three homers a year ago.

That was an aberration.

Beside last season and his first three years in the majors, Inge has averaged .248 at the plate and a tad over 17 homers each year.

Batting isn't Inge's main strength, though. He's also shown himself to be an excellent fielder, with a 13.4 defensive WAR compiled over the course of his career.

Even though he wasn't hitting well last year, Inge had the fifth-best fielding percentage among third basemen. He was third the season before.

From 2005 to 2007, Inge had the most assists from that position in the league.

The guy is also loyal. Until now, he had only played with the Detroit Tigers since they drafted him in 1998. And he was well liked in Detroit (via Michigan Live):

"The writers love him, the fans love him," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "The majority of people are pulling for him."

A major reason why the Tigers put Inge on waivers—beside his slump to start the season—is because former first baseman Miguel Cabrera moved to third base after Detroit acquired Prince Fielder.

Inge had been spending time at second base and can also play the outfield, but he's played the majority of his career over at third base.

In this case, one team's trash is another team's recycling.

Inge isn't actually trash, but the A's certainly will recycle his production for their gigantic gap at third.

 

Follow me on Twitter @DanielManoHerb

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