Quintin Berry and the Value of Speed

baller status

Baseball isn’t a black and white sport. This is kind of an obvious statement as baseballs are white with red stripes. Bats are solid black or solid tan or a mix of black and tan or even pink at times. Bases are white. Grass is green. Sometimes shoes are black and white, and that’s exactly the point I’m trying to make: baseball has many colors involved in the sport.

But that’s also a metaphor. It’s a metaphor for the fact that not all minor leaguer’s can be labeled one way or another. Players grow and develop and give up and hold on in their own individual way. If you’ve watched baseball for a while it shouldn’t be a shock to you that prospects are not always sure things. Some prospects make it. Some prospects don’t. Others play in the major leagues at a mediocre pace for years then suddenly take their game to another level. Even more don’t make it at all. Some get drafted and never become legitimate prospects and stay in the minor leagues until they are 27 years old, bounce from league to league and team to team, until a player on the parent club gets injured and their services are finally required.

This is exactly what happened to Quintin Berry.

Drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the fifth round of the 2006 rule four draft (the June draft), Quintin Berry never actually became a prospect.Why? I don’t know, probably because he never really hit for a high batting average. I mean, look at his career minor league totals:

2006 PHI-min A- 247 19 4 .219 .314 .248
2007 PHI-min A 581 55 18 .312 .395 .386
2008 PHI-min A+ 590 51 14 .272 .360 .341
2009 PHI-min AA 598 48 14 .266 .355 .335
2010 PHI-SDP-min AA 409 27 8 .210 .306 .284
2011 CIN-min AA,AAA 397 42 7 .284 .383 .391
2012 DET-min AAA 187 19 3 .270 .368 .321
2012 DET AL 20 1 0 .294 .368 .412

Only once has he actually batted over .300. He didn’t provide a lot of extra base hits. And in the minor leagues, that’s not exactly what they’re looking for.

Maybe he never passed the eye test. Maybe he was lazy. I don’t think that was the case so but I don’t know. In his age 25 season he was placed on waivers in June. As to why, I don’t know but as we can see, it looks like a bunch of things contributed to Berry never being called up to the major leagues. I don’t know why, you don’t know why, most people don’t know why.

What we do know is that he had a pretty decent on base percentage and an insane amount of steals nearly every year. He’s always had a good glove in the outfield. Those are three things that the 2012 Detroit Tigers need. Those three things are why people are asking the Tigers to play him everyday, even when Austin Jackson returns.

A lot of people like speed. They like a player who can run first to third with ease. Quintin Berry is that player. That is a quality he provides that is valuable on a major league team. Does anyone remember Dave Roberts and the 2004 Postseason? His speed helped them when they needed it most, and they won a World Series because of it.

While he provides those things that they need, I don’t think Quintin Berry provides an everyday bat to this lineup. I don’t think he can sustain his current play. I don’t think he will provide more offense than Brennan Boesch and Delmon Young do, and that’s who he would take playing time from if he continued to play every day. I’m pretty sure Dave Dombrowski and the rest of the Detroit decision making team feel that way as well.

That doesn’t mean he can’t stay on the team.

Don Kelly, bless his versatile heart, has been on the Tigers since 2009. He is not an everyday player by any means, but he provides Jim Leyland something very valuable. A versatile glove.

Take a look at the positions and innings he has played in this year and last:

Year Pos G Inn Ch E Fld%
2011 3B 45 325.0 103 4 .961
2011 RF 39 154.2 36 1 .972
2011 LF 17 57.0 16 0 1.000
2011 1B 15 56.0 55 0 1.000
2011 CF 4 25.0 9 0 1.000
2011 C 1 6.0 3 0 1.000
2011 P 1 0.1 0 0
2012 RF 9 15.0 4 0 1.000
2012 CF 8 63.0 15 0 1.000
2012 LF 8 60.1 19 2 .895
2012 1B 2 11.0 13 0 1.000
2012 2B 1 1.0 0 0
2012 3B 1 7.0 0 0

That’s pretty fantastic. The only problem is, with Danny Worth and Ramon Santiago on this roster right now, he’s not needed at any of the infield positions…like ever.

The only other option he provides is an extra outfield glove and with Berry providing speed and an equal if not better range factor, Kelly almost becomes a pointless option to have even before we get into the fact that Berry provides that little thing called quality at bats and speed that Kelly doesn’t.

Sorry, Don Kelly, the fact that you can catch in a pinch isn’t going to help: Ryan Raburn can catch too (troll alert).

We’ll see how Berry continues to play, but even if he flops from this point on, I can’t see how Don Kelly (or even Danny Worth if the Tigers feel Kelly can provide enough defense on the infield) would provide more value than what the lanky 27-year-old does.

Frankly, thhe team just has too many of the same type of player. At least Berry has speed.

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