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June 14, 2009

Prospectus Idol Entry

The Curious Case of Brandon Inge Battin'

by Ken Funck

A year removed from one of the most disappointing seasons since, well, pick your least-favorite SNL cast, the Detroit Tigers are back on top in the AL Central. With a middle-of-the-pack offense, the Tigers have been doing it with improved pitching and, just as importantly, stellar defense. Flashing the leather is the latest little black dress of team construction - just take a peak at these defensive rankings for the current front-runners in the AL Central and AL West (all 2009 statistics through June 10th):


                        AL            AL
Year  Team    UZR/150* Rank   PADE** Rank Record 
2008  Tigers    -6.5   14(T)  -0.5     8   74-88
2008  Rangers   -6.5   14(T)  -3.4    14   79-83
2009  Tigers     7.6    1(T)   2.0     1   33-26
2009  Rangers    7.6    1(T)   1.9     2   33-25

*Mitchel Lichtman's Ultimate Zone Rating, normalized to 150 games

**BP's Park Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, measuring the efficiency
  with which teams turn batted balls into outs

Defensive metrics don't always agree, but in this case you can easily get the point: 1st is good, 14th is bad, up is down, black is white -- both teams have witnessed exceptional defensive improvement so far in 2009.

A lead actor in the Tigers' turnaround has been versatile veteran Brandon Inge. Usually typecast as a good-looking glove man with a declining bat, Inge has been pulled from behind the plate and re-installed at third base, turning in the solid defensive performance we've come to expect (21.1 UZR/150, 2nd best among AL qualifiers at the hot corner). But surprisingly, his slumbering bat has come to life, leading AL third sackers with 13 HRs and posting a terrific .279/.383/.517 batting line. Seemingly past his offensive peak, most pre-season projections expected Inge's bat to continue its precipitous decline, following the standard player aging curve. Now 32 and in his ninth season as a Tiger regular, can it be true that Brandon Inge is aging in reverse? To figure that out, you'll need to hear the whole story.

Charles Brandon Inge was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 2nd round of the 1998 First Year Player Draft. A second-team All-American shortstop at Virginia Commonwealth University, Inge had also performed as the team's closer. His gritty 1997 season for the Bourne Braves in the wood bat Cape Cod League, where he was named an All-Star and showed surprising pop by leading the league in extra base hits, had raised his scouting profile nationally. Prior to the '98 draft, Baseball America had painted Inge with the "gamer" brush, describing him as a "classic overachiever who knows how to play and gets the most out of his ability." BA didn't consider Inge to be a first round talent, but his strong arm both in the field and on the mound made him a "valuable two-way player who could go either way." Even as a collegian, versatility was Brandon Inge's stock in trade.

Yet it probably was a bit of a shock when the Tigers immediately informed him that henceforth he would be a catcher, a position he had never played. "Welcome, son. Here's your $450,000 bonus check. Now get ready to be sore every day for the next decade or two." In Inge, Detroit's GM Randy Smith saw a player with a strong arm, soft hands, an iffy bat, and not enough quickness to play in the middle infield - a scouting report as apt today as it was then. But more importantly to an old-school organization like the Tigers, as Assistant GM Steve Lubratich later told Baseball America, Inge was stuffed to the gills with "the type of makeup you look for in a catcher."

Forging a major league catcher can be a long, grueling process, and the Tigers hoped Brandon Inge had the moxie to see it through -- but it didn't take long for his iffy bat to be exposed as even iffier:


Year  Team        Level  Age   PA  HR   BB%    K%    AVG/ OBP/ SLG   ADBSE* 
1998  Jamestown   SS-A    21  215   8  7.9%  24.7%  .230/.312/.419   Blurp! 
1999  West Mich.  Lo-A    22  402   9  9.7%  21.6%  .244/.320/.403   Vronk!
2000  Jax'ville   AA      23  330   6  7.9%  22.1%  .258/.313/.409   Flrbbb!
2000  Toledo      AAA     23  208   5  7.2%  24.5%  .221/.280/.379   Ouch!

*ADBSE: Appropriately Descriptive Batman Sound Effect

Here we see a young player with a dash of power, a dollop of patience, and not enough contact skill to avoid being pummeled by better pitching. Yet the Tigers were happy with Inge's progress - his hitting woes were being overshadowed (and excused) by his near-immediate mastery of the tools of ignorance. Questions about his arm were answered when he threw out 43% of attempted base stealers in '99, and the organization was encouraged by his game-calling and leadership skills - marveling at how the young man seemed wise beyond his years. So they tinkered with his swing (eliminating a high leg kick and helping him develop a shorter, inside-out stroke to make him less pull-happy) and trundled him off to the California Fall League late in '99 to work on his approach, fingers crossed.

In those magical six weeks out west something appeared to click, as Inge won the league's batting title by hitting .407 with power. And before you could say "sample size", the Tigers declared victory over the gremlins in Brandon's bat and skipped him up to AA for the 2000 season. He didn't hit much in Jacksonville, even less in Toledo, but the club had seen him hit once, and that was what mattered. Meanwhile, his defensive reputation continued to grow, earning Baseball America's imprimatur as the #1 prospect in a weak Tiger organization, and #67 in all the minors. BA's writeup came with a warning: "The Tigers might not want to wait for his defense, but they need to let him develop as a hitter." And with that in mind, the Tigers looked set to send him back to Toledo.

But in the offseason Detroit had swapped catcher cards with the Astros, trading a near-mint Brad Ausmus (back when that was cool) for the long-ball stylings of Mitch Meluskey. But Meluskey turned out to have a soft corner, injuring his shoulder right before opening day. Having already learned not to bet the farm on Robert Fick's spectral catching bona fides, the Tigers decided to value Inge's catch-and-throw skills ahead of Javier Cardona's more potent minor league bat. So the 24-year old ex-shortstop found himself putting down fingers for Jeff Weaver on opening day 2001, making the lesson of Brandon Inge's minor league career pretty much the gamer's creed: work hard, stay healthy, and when they tell you something, say "yes sir."

To no one's surprise, Inge didn't immediately light it up at the plate - of his 35 starts through June 2nd 2001, he was lifted for a pinch-hitter 17 times. Though continually happy with Inge's defense and moxie, the big club wanted more offense and decided to try another spin on the Robert Fick Catching Carousel. Inge's playing time dwindled, and then a dislocated shoulder caused by a home-plate collision kept him off the big league roster until September. But by then the Tigers would have rather watched a 36-hour "Charles In Charge" marathon than one more inning of Fick behind the dish -- so despite flailing away at a .180/.215/.238 clip, Brandon Inge was now ensconced as Detroit's starting catcher, a position he'd hold for two more seasons:


Year  Age PA  HR  BB%    K%    AVG/ OBP/ SLG   EQA  WARP  wOBA  WAR BABIP 
2001  24  202  0  4.5%  21.7% .180/.215/.238  .144  -0.1  .193  N/A  .230
2002  25  351  7  7.0%  31.5% .202/.266/.333  .214   0.7  .263  0.2  .272
2003  26  366  8  6.8%  23.9% .203/.265/.339  .219   1.6  .264  0.2  .243

Quick stat notes: Tom Tango's wOBA (weighted On Base Average) is similar in use (though not in calculation) to EQA - it normalizes offensive production as a metric scaled to be similar to OBP; WAR is Wins Above Replacement, similar in use to WARP - it measures a player's total contribution compared to an imaginary replacement-level player. But regardless of whether you prefer your stats in Betamax or VHS, you can see these are not impressive numbers - hardly better than replacement level, even for an AL catcher. The effect a catcher has on a pitching staff is famously difficult to quantify (though some of the best and brightest have tried), but it's difficult to imagine any combination of game-calling skill, catcher defense and makeup that could be smeared over those offensive numbers to make them pretty.

Let's pause here to pay some respect to Brandon Inge's 2003 season. Gallons of virtual ink have been spilled describing the Tigers' 43-119 nightmare, so I don't need to pile on - but consider that Inge had to witness it all up close and personal, squatting in full equipment during that endless, humid Detroit summer, taking foul balls off the mask while trying to coax a few more wins out of a pitching staff with only 60 career starts under its belt. I guess that's when the "makeup" really gets tested.

But Inge's days starting behind the plate were suddenly over, as the Tigers brought in veteran catcher Pudge Rodriguez for the 2004 season. Inge was made the backup, and Alan Trammell moved the 27-year-old (plot point alert!) around the diamond, playing him at all three outfield positions before settling him in as the everyday third baseman. And suddenly Brandon Inge began to hit:


                                                             UZR/
Year  Age   PA  HR   BB%    K%     AVG/ OBP/ SLG  wOBA  WAR   150* BABIP 
2004   27  458  13   7.3%  17.6%  .287/.340/.453  .340  1.6  -17.5  .322
2005   28  694  16   9.3%  22.7%  .261/.330/.419  .324  3.4    5.9  .315
2006   29  601  27   7.4%  23.6%  .253/.313/.463  .330  3.8   13.3  .284
2007   30  577  14   8.5%  29.5%  .236/.312/.376  .304  1.8    8.7  .308
2008   31  407  11  11.0%  27.1%  .205/.303/.369  .297  1.3    8.4  .248
2009   32  236  13  12.2%  28.4%  .279/.383/.517  .386  2.7   21.1  .328

*3b only. Note that UZR is not calculated for catchers.

So we see a career high .340 wOBA (basically league average) in the traditional Age 27 Peak Season, the same year Inge stopped catching, and then slowly decreasing wOBAs up through 2008. What caused all this? Notice that Inge's BB% went up a little but not drastically, and his K% dropped in his peak 2004 then rose to its former level - this tells us his approach didn't significantly change. Most of the increase in SLG and OBP is due to higher batting averages - and this coincides with a dramatic and sustained increase in BABIP (which, for hitters, can be a repeatable skill). Note also the big drop in BABIP during 2008 - a year which found Inge once again spending considerable time behind the plate. So the career arc on display here (peak at 27, slow decline) is quite common, but the sudden, sustained increase in offensive value driven by higher BABIP suggests something else is afoot -- to me, it looks like Inge was miraculously cured of a case of "the squats".

Studies have shown that catching a lot, or even catching at all, has a detrimental effect on a player's offensive production. Take a look at Inge's career splits through 2008:


Position   G    AB    AVG/ OBP/ SLG 
Catcher   376  1149  .199/.260/.330
Other     645  2112  .257/.327/.425

Clearly Inge has hit better when not catching. But that's not a fair comparison - most of his games at catcher were prior to his peak, so of obviously you'll see lower production. For a better comparison I took Retrosheet data from the two seasons in which Inge spent significant time both behind the plate and out in the field (2004 and 2008), and split his numbers three ways:


        While Catching
Season   AB   AVG/ OBP/ SLG 
2004    103  .243/.286/.408
2008    138  .174/.272/.312
Total   241  .203/.278/.353

        Day After Catching
Season   AB   AVG/ OBP/ SLG 
2004     64  .406/.435/.641
2008     33  .242/.359/.364
Total    97  .351/.407/.546

        Any Other Day
Season   AB   AVG/ OBP/ SLG 
2004    241  .274/.338/.423
2008    176  .222/.317/.415
Total   417  .252/.329/.420

Beware the small sample size, but for those two seasons Inge performed significantly worse in each slash stat when catching than when playing other positions. Interestingly, his numbers were best on days he played other positions after catching the day before - maybe it's akin to feeling tremendously good right after you've been sick.

Though moving him back to third has likely boosted his offense, Inge's .279/.383/.517 line this year doesn't jibe with the rest of his career arc. As Marc Normandin recently noted, Inge's batted ball data this season is out of whack:


         LD%    GB%    FB%   HR/FB   IFH%  BABIP
2009    15.3%  41.7%  43.1%  21.0%  15.0%  .328
Career  18.1%  39.8%  42.0%  10.5%  7.3%   .289

Maintaining a .328 BABIP would be a career high, despite a substandard line-drive percentage. The rule of thumb has been (LD% + .12) = Expected BABIP, so I'll say he should really have a .273 BABIP - although work is being done in this area, some of it by people you know. But clearly Inge's BABIP is well above expectations, as he's being helped by a ridiculous infield-hit percentage and a crazy high HR/FB ratio. His hot start should help him exceed his 2009 projections (PECOTA predicted .244/.321/.415, which is actually a little higher than Marcel, Oliver and CHONE, though lower than ZiPS) - but the Tigers might as well stencil "Warning: Regression To The Mean In Progress" on the back of his batting helmet.

PECOTA stamps Inge with a Similarity Index of 56, meaning his typology is very common and thus his future easier to predict - and PECOTA predicts a slow, ongoing decline. I see no reason to disagree. Catchers don't age well, while athletic players do - since Inge has been both we can split the difference. While his continued plus defense and positional flexibility will make him a valuable (and often undervalued) player, it turns out the Brandon Inge case isn't that curious after all - the arrow of time points the same way for everyone.

Thanks to Fangraphs for UZR, wOBA, WAR, batted ball and projection data, Retrosheet for positional splits and box scores, and D.Ross for access to his voluminous hard-copy prospect library.

Ken Funck is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ken's other articles. You can contact Ken by clicking here

49 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

strupp

Shocking that Will Carroll didn't enjoy the humour in an article. Shocking on the level of Rich Harden getting injured.

Not my favorite piece, and like Will I had to give it a second go, but a vote to live another day.

Jun 14, 2009 12:46 PM
rating: 5
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

I like humor. It's just that it has to be put in here and there or it's like a drunk uncle telling jokes at Thanksgiving dinner. Ken doesn't need to be over the top to show his writing off or to make a point.

Jun 14, 2009 15:40 PM
 
Paul Andrew Burnett

It also has to be funny. Avoiding cliché subjects (making fun of SNL, for example) helps, too.

Jun 14, 2009 16:27 PM
rating: 3
 
deep64blue

The first two articles I have read this week have been those with the interesting titles (Ken and Matts), Tims will be next. I'm looking for a bit of humour to go with what are likely to be stat heavy essays - the others have just named the player which speaks to a lack of imagination IMO.

Jun 15, 2009 07:28 AM
rating: 0
 
jtrichey

A solid piece. Humor is good, though this one was trying a bit too hard at times. I wish there had been even more on his unexplained power this year. Anyone care to point me to something that would explain why HR/FB rate is considered a luck stat by some? It seems intuitive to me that hitting HRs should really never be considered as lucky (except in ballpark context) so if someone's HR/FB rate increases, why doesn't that signify hitting the ball harder?

Jun 14, 2009 14:22 PM
rating: 0
 
Ken Funck

I guess that depends on how you want to define "luck". I wouldn't consider Inge's 21.0% HR/FB "luck" so much as it's a small sample size outlier, and inconsistent with his past performance. For his career he's at 10.6%. Since 2004 (when he started his move out from behind the plate -- we'll ignore most of his crummy stats as a catcher), he's put up these seasonal rates through 2008: 9.9%, 7.9%, 14.3%, 9.5%, 9.2% -- reasonably consistent. His current rate of 21% is way out of line with that -- one could say more than three standard deviations, so pretty unlikely to continue. So it's not so much luck as the much greater weight we should place on Inge's previous 3500+ career plate appearances than this year's 250 or so. I'd love to see him keep it up -- he's the type of player I like to root for -- but it's not something I'd bet on.

Jun 14, 2009 15:24 PM
rating: 0
 
BurrRutledge

What is the league average HR/FB rate over the same time period, including this season?

Jun 14, 2009 16:03 PM
rating: 0
 
Ken Funck

Rule of thumb has generally been, I think, 10% HR/FB%. For all of baseball (including pitchers), quick queries from BP's custom reports gives me this:

2009: 9.9%
2008: 10.0%
2007: 10.0%
2006: 10.8%
2005: 10.1%

(2004 data from query looks funny to me -- it's showing 13.9%, but the totals for FB, PO, and calculated percentages look quite low, so I think there's a data glitch).

Jun 14, 2009 17:29 PM
rating: 0
 
edanddom

Two quick points on this line of thought:

1) I've inquired about BP's batted ball data in the past, and apparently the source was different prior to 2005 in that the direction of "hits" was not recorded, only the direction of "outs." This could be the cause of your seemingly errant 2004 data point, Ken.

2) Just want to make sure that anyone reading this string of comments recognizes that hitters establish their own HR/FB rates just as they do their own BABIP rates over time. Pitchers, conversely, tend to regress to the mean.

Jun 15, 2009 13:36 PM
rating: 0
 
BurrRutledge

I was merely curious if Inge's increased rate this year could be part of a league-wide effect. I heard HRs were up this year...

Jun 15, 2009 14:59 PM
rating: 0
 
jtrichey

Thanks Ken. I do understand the "outlier" nature of Inge's season to date certainly. I'm sure it didn't come across as such, but I actually wasn't referring to your article in regards to HR/FB as much as the typical writing on the topic. Thanks for the answer though, and keep up the good work.

Jun 14, 2009 16:18 PM
rating: 0
 
Dr. Dave

Agreed about trying too hard. The jokes were fine; there were just about 3 times too many of them. Not everyone can write like Gary "Fritters of Delight" Huckabay and get away with it.

(Keep the Batman sounds, though.)

Overall, solid and entertaining.

PS -- Again, a spelling error in the lead paragraph is A Bad Thing.

Jun 14, 2009 15:44 PM
rating: 1
 
Ken Funck

Thanks Dr. Dave. Guess I'm just not seeing the typo in the first paragraph, and it bugs me that I'm not ... can you share? I know about the "so of obviously" typo near the end ...

Jun 14, 2009 17:43 PM
rating: 0
 
Tim Kniker

In that instance it should be "peek" and not "peak"

Jun 14, 2009 17:45 PM
rating: 0
 
Ken Funck

Thanks Tim! It was driving me crazy, and of course there it was hiding in plane site ;)

Jun 14, 2009 17:48 PM
rating: 2
 
Richard Bergstrom
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

Eye sew at two.

Jun 14, 2009 21:06 PM
rating: -4
 
Richard Bergstrom

The humor did get in the way at times but I found it less "cute" than in previous weeks which is a good thing. Interestingly, I think this is Ken's first article in the competition which didn't feel gimmicky or niche but still had originality. It felt like a serious treatment of the week's topic. I think the idea to chart Inge's performance at the plate based on various timeframes on when he last caught was great.

After reading this, I wondered if Inge's increased infield hits and power were due to his legs being protected from the strains of catching...

Besides a few typos here and there I liked this article. Thanks for the entertaining read.

Jun 14, 2009 16:38 PM
rating: -1
 
Richard Bergstrom

I think I ended up liking this article the best overall. Btw anyone notice that Ken puts a flair in his writing kind of like how Christina does? Granted, Ken's are a bit more like zingers, but it's definitely a distinct kind of style.

Jun 15, 2009 08:44 AM
rating: 0
 
Peter Benedict

I enjoyed the article, although to be honest I scanned some of the more stat-heavy parts. I do that when I'm reading the 6th or 7th (I've lost count...) in a short sitting.

I liked the humor although it was a bit overmuch, and I liked the analysis.

Jun 14, 2009 20:58 PM
rating: 2
 
Morley

Agreed. Reading similar pieces in a short time frame gets monotonous and makes it hard to judge each fairly. I'm hoping the next version of this contest will allow for longer review times.

Jun 15, 2009 15:44 PM
rating: 0
 
Gordon

As a metallurist, I found the link to Damascus Steel more interesting than the baseball content--but that's neither here nor there.

Jun 14, 2009 23:55 PM
rating: 1
 
Joe D.

I continue to very much enjoy Ken's work. For the most part, I like Ken's humor, though I can see how some people might be distracted by it.

Very Minor Quibble / Perhaps Helpful Suggestion: I didn't keep count, but "but" led off too many sentences. There are so many wonderful ways to to start a sentence off, and the vast majority of the time, "but" isn't one of them. That -- rather than the humor -- was the minor distraction for me.

All in all, it was a great read, though. Ken took a player I wouldn't normally be driven to read about, and pointed out precisely what's interesting about his particular case.

Big Thumb Up from me.



Jun 15, 2009 01:55 AM
rating: 1
 
gjhardy

I am just now joining the BP Idol contest and haven't read the writers' previous entries. The style of this entry reminds me very much of the player profiles published in the BP book each year -- a bit glib, some solid analysis, and some very nice turns of phrase. I particularly enjoyed the "black dress" reference and the "swapped catcher cards" analogy. Overall, this was very well written, and the links Ken included were also very good.

Jun 15, 2009 08:39 AM
rating: 2
 
rguerin

I'm a fan of irreverence so the ADBSE lick gets a big thumbs up from me. And Ken backed up his humor with some interesting insights/findings. I like to be entertained and informed when I read, and I got both from Ken's contribution this week.

Jun 15, 2009 10:48 AM
rating: 2
 
Tim Kniker

Personally, I also like to be entertained and informed and I do feel that humor is one of the better ways to be entertained. I've never felt that Ken's humor has been too forced or gets in the way of his articles.

Also, I loved the subject matter, as I've been flabbergasted (as a Royals fan) as to what Inge has been doing this year. He's actually been one of the main, "Is this for real" players I've been wondering about this year.

Good job, Ken.

Jun 15, 2009 10:52 AM
rating: 2
 
G. Guest

Ken stands out in the competition. He's not my favorite, but he seems to have fans and haters. Figures like that have a tendency to draw traffic and readers.

Jun 15, 2009 11:09 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Each time I open one of Ken's articles, I get something I don't expect. Others drill down better into the detail or provide a better presentation, but Ken takes something and provides a unique and often simple technique for looking at it differently. Even the articles that I didn't like as much had that uniqueness either.

The winner of this thing overall is going to come down to personal taste and who appeals to the most people. The three who make up my top three, Tim, Matt and Ken in various arrangements, have remained in the top three since Week 1 (and almost for their initial entries, except I had Matt at #4).

Jun 15, 2009 11:18 AM
rating: -1
 
Tim Kniker

This is why my nickname for Ken is "The Monocle"

He is a unique, wicked-cool lens through which to view baseball, which one doesn't see very often.

Jun 15, 2009 11:39 AM
rating: 0
 
Ken Funck

Appreciate it, Tim. But (a) how wicked cool can something be that's most frequently associated with 19th century robber barons and/or Werner Klemperer?; and (b) monacles have a single lens for a single eye -- are you suggesting that my analysis lacks depth? ;)

Jun 15, 2009 17:30 PM
rating: 0
 
Tim Kniker

Col. Klink wasn't cool?1? What planet are you from? The babes loved the Klink! Granted he's no Burkhalter, but hey Helda and Hilga loved their boss

Jun 15, 2009 17:41 PM
rating: 0
 
John Carter

Unfortunately, I grew up with the last name of Carter.

Jun 15, 2009 22:13 PM
rating: -1
 
Joe D.

You, sir, owe an apology to Mr. Peanut.

Jun 16, 2009 02:59 AM
rating: 3
 
John Carter

By the time he came along, I was in university and my peers were too mature to use my name against me.

Perhaps my childhood came about 5 decades too late. I just read today Disney is making a movie, if not a series of movies, based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs' (Tarzan) character John Carter on Mars. That's my name.

Jun 16, 2009 10:32 AM
rating: -1
 
rofldude

I think it helps to wash down some dry stats with a little humor. It makes for a more interesting piece and a quicker read. Good work.

Jun 15, 2009 13:30 PM
rating: 1
 
Evan
(47)

About a third of the way through the article (right at the Damascus Steel link), I scrolled up and clicked my vote. Because this was, HANDS DOWN, the best article this week. So great is the gap between this article and the others I'm tempted to undo all my votes for the rest of the field just to illustrate how stark I think the differences are.

Please don't tone down the humour. This was a wonderful piece.

Jun 15, 2009 14:17 PM
rating: 0
 
Evan
(47)

I should mention this is also a bad omen. In both weeks 1 and 2, the author of my favourite article got eliminated.

In week 3 I didn't vote.

Jun 15, 2009 17:12 PM
rating: 0
 
graignettles

Poor Ken. If he goes Borscht Belt, he hears complaints. If he went all Dennis Miller on us, he would have heard complaints (I'll send money to the next writer that can fit Plantagenets into their piece and have it make sense :-). I liked the piece a lot from a "tell me something" standpoint and yes I liked the Batman sound effect column. Overall it was worth my time. Thumbs up!

Jun 15, 2009 15:05 PM
rating: 1
 
Brian24

This is the only article I'm voting for this week, because it provided loads of interesting information, and did so clearly and concisely, and also entertainingly.

Ken, I absolutely love your sense of humor and your cute turns of phrase (and I generally cringe at a lot of the jokey asides that get shoehorned into articles like this, so this is a real compliment). However, as others here have suggested, you need to scale back the number of jokes you're throwing in. No matter how good they are, it starts to feel forced if you go to the well too often.

Other than that, really, really good piece.

Jun 15, 2009 15:47 PM
rating: 2
 
Morley

Ken---One of the biggest reasons for you getting my vote this week is your willingness to explain some of the statistics that you use. Though I've been a BP member for several years, I don't always remember what "UZR" or "PADE" or "wOBA" stand for. BIG thumbs up just for your realizing that not all BP readers are diehard sabermatricians.

Jun 15, 2009 15:49 PM
rating: 0
 
dpratola

Enjoyed this quite a bit, and agree with Christina's comments. But commenting here mostly just to reinforce the bit about stats when catching versus not catching with something I recently noticed. SSS alert, but...
2009 - Mike Napoli
As C: 203/291/415
As DH: 471/538/676
Does Vlad have any options left?

Jun 15, 2009 19:30 PM
rating: 0
 
fireorlime

He's DH'd only 10 games in his career, SSS alert is right!

Jun 16, 2009 14:09 PM
rating: 0
 
John Carter

Content B+, Writing A
What a fun romp! Perhaps, it lacked a scouting report or something personal. In fact, there was really nothing surprising here or particularly insightful, but it gave us a solid view of Inge's career. I really don't think I need or want to know more.

However, if Ken were to find something serious about hitting as a catcher vs. other positions, he would have needed more data than just two seasons of Brandon Inge.

The tables were nicely laid out.

This was certainly the most fun to read this week by a wide margin - and not just because of the jokes, many of which were not that funny, just because it was so easy to read in a good mood.

Jun 15, 2009 22:16 PM
rating: -1
 
BurrRutledge

Could be an interesting submission down the line.

Along with Inge, there are a few other part-time catchers and part-time other-fielders in the big leagues right now... Doumit comes to mind. Napoli mentioned above. Is there enough data to include Sandoval?

Jun 16, 2009 12:47 PM
rating: 0
 
CRP13

I don't agree with Will (please don't terminate my subscription.)

This is the ONLY submission I read this week that actually engaged my attention all the way through. The statistical analysis was spread evenly throughout the article, instead of being shoehorned in at the end, and the stats made SENSE within the context of the writing. I really enjoyed the sarcastic lilt to the piece without actually being abusive, although I agree that Ken probably could have gotten by with about half of the amount.

Humor aside, I still think this is the most interesting analysis of a player I thought I knew a lot about of the whole bunch.

Jun 16, 2009 10:48 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

Hey, like I said before, that's just my opinion and you're the one's voting (and subscribing.)

Jun 16, 2009 14:02 PM
 
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