Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ramon Santiago Deserves to Play Second Everyday

After the trade of Scott Sizemore to Oakland, Ryan Raburn became the Detroit Tigers everyday second baseman, overlooking the man they should have tabbed who has been with the team since 2002. Ramon Santiago has been with the Tigers through the rough times as well as the good and has never begrudged his job of being the utility man and pinch hitter. But, it's his time now.

Raburn is floundering defensively at second and he is struggling to stay above the Mendoza Line at the plate, both qualities that you do not want in an everyday player. Santiago is frequently called upon to sub Raburn in the field when it gets late in the game, which shows that Manager Jim Leyland believes that he is the better defensive player.

Offensively, Santiago isn't hitting much better than Raburn, .209 to Raburn's .200. But Raburn has 110 more at-bat's than Santiago and many of Santiago's plate appearances have been coming in cold off the bench as a pinch hitter.

Defensively Santiago is the better player, Raburn costs the Tigers 0.3 runs a season with his defensive misques (www.baseball-reference.com) whereas Santiago actually contributes 0.3 runs defensively a season. The values are miniscule but Santiago has proved that he can handle the second base position.

Should Leyland eventually regularly start Santiago at second as opposed to Raburn his position in the batting order is important. The Tigers are in need of a consistent number two hitter and Santiago's stats show that he could fill that role admirably. When he has started a game this season batting ninth he is hitting only .149 but when Leyland moves him up to second in the order, his stats balloon to .308.

Ultimately the Tigers may decide to trade for a second baseman to replace Raburn, but if they want to keep the job in-house, then they have the perfect candidate in Santiago.

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