Saturday, October 14, 2006

Tigers Wasting At Bats

After starting Marcus Thames at DH for the entire series against the Yankees, Jim Leyland now appears committed to Alexis Gomez, starting him two out of three games against right-handed pitchers, with Omar Infante inexplicably taking the third start.

Thames may have acquired the label of being a lefty-masher, but his career platoon split is a difference of only 28 points of OPS, a fairly low number. The Fox talking heads quoted Jim Leyland saying something about how Gomez is going to be good, but needs seasoning. Setting aside that the playoffs are not the place to get seasoning (with one exception), Gomez is now 28 years old. He's not getting any better, and his current self isn't good enough to play every day, with a career OPS of .649.

In four games of replacing Sean Casey, Leyland has now used Ramon Santiago three times and Neifi Perez once. It should be obvious to anyone who can read a stat line that Infante is a better hitter than either, and he's a fine fielder to boot. Perhaps this, and not the omission of Chris Shelton from the postseason roster, is the most dangerous consequence of carrying three middle infielders: that Leyland will actually give regular playing time to the two unnecessary ones.

Tiger fans can hope that Shelton is playing first base and Thames DHing in the World Series, and both of these problems will correct themselves.

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