The Final Vote for the American League All-Star team has traditionally gone to a large market team player. Three Red Sox, two White Sox, and one Yankee. This year, none of those teams have a candidate, which means the swing vote will be crucial.
Angels third baseman Chone Figgins, Blue Jays DH Adam Lind, Rays first baseman Carlos Peña, and Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge are the five players vying for votes. Obviously, as the Tigers representative on this website, it’s my civic responsibility to tell you why Inge is the clear choice. It won’t be easy, because an argument can be made that he’s not even the best third baseman on the ballot.
They talk about Figgins’ speed, versatility, defense, and hitting. They say he’s started games at six different positions (third, short, second, all three outfield positions). Inge can’t boast starting at any infield spot other than third, but he is the only guy who’s started Opening Day at catcher, third, and center field. He was also a pitcher in college.
Inge is the more versatile athlete; he can kick a 50-yard field goal, dunk a basketball, and may have driven a golf ball 400 yards.
But hey, Figgins is faster. So if, instead of extra innings, they have a footrace, then maybe he’s who you want on the team.
There aren’t many great defensive stats, but for an arbitrary game you need arbitrary stats. Inge leads all players in ESPN Web Gem points. Basically that means the man makes some ridiculously good plays at third base.
It also helps to know what he went through last year. When Detroit acquired Miguel Cabrera, a third baseman at the time, Inge was the ninth man out of the field, becoming the gritty, scrappy “super utilityman.” He played center when Curtis Granderson was hurt, third when Cabrera or Carlos Guillen needed a day off, and catcher when Pudge Rodgriguez was traded to the Yankees, all the while publicy admitting he did not like catching. Almost as a reward for being jerked around, he was re-stationed to third this season.
And I haven’t even touched his stats at the plate, where he leads the team in home runs (19) and RBI (54).
At last announced count Kinsler was leading the polls. His offensive numbers are frighteningly similar to Inge’s. Adam Lind has great offensive numbers, and Pena quietly leads the AL in home runs with 23. None of them, however, can rhyme with orange, something once thought impossible. Vote for Inge.