Why Brandon Inge should be on the Tigers opening day roster
Those are the two reasons the right decision by the Tigers would be to keep Brandon Inge on their roster for opening day, even though he has clearly been outplayed this spring by Danny Worth, who has more overall value as a backup infielder because he is probably their best shortstop defensively - in addition to being a solid third baseman and a very good second baseman.
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Inge hitting .171 in spring training doesn't mean as much as hitting .324 as a club is clinching a division title in September, or posting a .929 OPS in extensive postseason play. Inge did turn it around after biting the bullet and going to Toledo late last season. Worth is having a good spring with a .296 batting average and a .931 OPS. At 26, he is primed for his shot as a backup infielder, which will be his role if he is able to perform well enough to remain in the major leagues. He is a very good fielder. He is, at best, an OK hitter. He hit .256 at Toledo last year with a .759 OPS, which was a good season by his previous standards.
Inge is the better option at third base over Worth. It's another factor with Miguel Cabrera's situation there becoming even more precarious because of injury.
Inge's contract is another factor. The Tigers should find out for sure he is the Inge from the first half of the last season, not the late season and postseason version, before unloading $5.5 million. There can also be a danger, though, in keeping a player for those reasons. We saw it during the Alan Trammell regime when Dmitri Young led a mutiny in the clubhouse because Bobby Higginson made the team over Marcus Thames. But Inge isn't the polarizing figure in the clubhouse Higginson had become, nor has Worth established his credentials to to the degree Thames did. And Jim Leyland has a much stronger grip on his clubhouse than Trammell did at the time.
What the Tigers can't do, is if Inge does not perform up to major league standards, is let it go on for months like last season, especially if Worth is performing well at Toledo.
I don't believe they will this time.