Public Enemy Number One: Ryan Raburn and the reality that comes with batting .146/.209/.211

We’re sitting here on the couch, you and me. We’re talking baseball. Baseball, we agree, is a great sport that is filled with controversy and drama and the human element. It’s good and it’s bad at times. Fans shouldn’t just appreciate the team and shut up. This sport is a passion for millions of people. People with opinions. People with access to the internet.

We’re sitting here on the couch, you and me. We’re talking Tigers baseball. We’re talking expectations. We’re talking disappointment. We’re talking infielders. We’re talking Ryan Raburn. We’re both in agreement that at this point, Ryno shouldn’t have a major league job. You’ve said this since Spring Training. I said that he’d be fine.

Again.

And again.

And again.

I can’t hide behind his second half stats anymore. Not given his play during the first two months of the 2012 season. Not given the way he has approached the game offensively. Not given his defensive performance. It’s been brutal and no matter how many times the ‘apologists’ (myself included) repeat that he will hit in July and August and September…he’s not hitting now…at all.

There’s a point where you have to take a look at a player and admit that he needs help. He needs something to change and he’s too involved in it to get himself out alone. The only way to get out is to take a step back. Go away for a bit. Take a vacation to the North Pole.

I don’t have any inside information, despite what some of you think, but I can tell you with 100% confidence there have been serious conversations in the Tigers management on what they’re supposed to do with Ryan Raburn, a player who is already, after two months, worth negative 1.0 WAR. I mean, how can they not have?

Some may think that he’s been unlucky at the plate thanks to a season batting average on balls in play of .193. But there’s always two sides of the coin. There’s the unlucky side, then there’s the plain bad side.

Look at his Plate Appearances and BABiP since 2009. Bear with me, in an attempt to figure this wonder-kin out, I’ve broken it down month by month.

2009 PA BA OBP SLG BAbip
April/March 6 .000 .167 .000 .000
May 44 .300 .364 .550 .310
June 57 .260 .351 .480 .324
July 60 .236 .288 .400 .300
August 52 .327 .365 .592 .308
Sept/Oct 72 .355 .431 .677 .390
2010 PA BA OBP SLG BAbip
April/March 43 .222 .349 .389 .348
May 26 .115 .115 .154 .158
June 56 .255 .327 .447 .278
July 57 .212 .281 .269 .282
August 112 .308 .357 .606 .338
Sept/Oct 116 .358 .405 .566 .418
2011 PA BA OBP SLG BAbip
April/March 104 .253 .298 .453 .345
May 66 .113 .141 .129 .175
June 74 .229 .257 .400 .265
July 56 .275 .327 .471 .333
August 65 .323 .344 .500 .375
Sept/Oct 53 .383 .453 .702 .484

And now:

2012 PA BA OBP SLG BAbip
April/March 60 .148 .220 .185 .182
May 71 .154 .211 .246 .209

Over the last two years, he has sported a BABiP under .175 in the month of May. Do you chalk this up to bad luck in May? I honestly don’t know. I’ve watched the games. You’ve watched the games. Ryan Raburn doesn’t look unlucky. Ryan Raburn looks bad.

Here is his hit trajectory since 2009. Note the absolute drop in BABiP on ground balls this year. Is that an anomaly? Or is it because he’s not making good contact? I’d lean towards the latter on this one.

2009 PA H BAbip
Ground Balls 75 20 .267
Fly Balls 93 30 .182
Line Drives 29 24 .828
Bunts 6 2 .400
2010 PA H BAbip
Ground Balls 111 38 .342
Fly Balls 114 23 .090
Line Drives 55 42 .759
Bunts 3 1 .500
2011 PA H BAbip
Ground Balls 95 31 .326
Fly Balls 122 26 .111
Line Drives 54 40 .741
Bunts 8 1 .250
2012 PA H BAbip
Ground Balls 36 6 .167
Fly Balls 40 3 .051
Line Drives 11 9 .818
Bunts 2 0 .000

This strikeout to contact ration is the same as it always has been…wait…you know what. Here’s another damn chart:

Year HR% SO% BB%
2009 5.5% 20.6% 8.9%
2010 3.7% 22.4% 6.6%
2011 3.4% 27.3% 5.0%
2012 0.8% 24.4% 6.1%
7 Yrs 3.3% 24.3% 6.6%
MLB Averages 2.7% 17.5% 8.5%

That’s enough charts for now, and while they tell us that Raburn has had the same contact rates he hasn’t hit many line drive and his ground balls haven’t gone through the infield, they, frankly, mean pretty much nothing.

Why? Because for the Tigers to even make a move they need to have options and what options are there? Unfortunately, they are as limited as they have ever been.

Ramon Santiago? The longest tenured Tiger is not an everyday player. He’s proven this year in and year out. Whenever he’s given a surplus of at bats he fails. Miserably. There’s no argument here. No ‘let’s see how he does’. We’ve seen what he does. We know who he is.

Danny Worth? A 26 year old minor league player with limited range, no power, and below average contact? There’s a reason he doesn’t play much. He’s barely a division two starter who was simply promoted to Triple-A a couple years ago because there was no one to play there and has found himself bouncing up and down ever since then because there’s no one else to play in either league. Not too mention he might be sent down again because of Quintin Berry’s emergence.

Eric Patterson: He’s hitting .244/.365/.315 in Triple-A with eight extra base hits in over 200 plate appearances. He has nine steals. He may walk, but there’s a reason he is 29 and bouncing from team to team. Major league pitchers would attack and expose him faster than paparazzi on Lindsay Lohan after a rehab assignment.

Hernan Perez is 21 and nowhere near major league ready. Brandon Douglas is 26 in Double-A can’t get on base better than 30% of the time.

Audy Ciriaco may be the most exciting name of the bu…oh wait, his on base percentage is .249? In Triple-A? No thanks.

A trade? There’s a point where you say, yes we’re interested, but when other teams know that you’re desperate, there’s no chance you won’t give up a ton of talent for a marginal return. Jacob Turner and Nick Castellanos are the Tigers prized possessions. They aren’t going anywhere.

Unfortunately the Tigers options lay in the hope that Raburn can turn it around. After Tuesday nights 6-3 to Boston, they optioned him to Triple-A Toledo? Leyland said that Worth and Santiago will split time until he comes back reinvigorated.

The funny thing about this is that everyone expects him to dominate AAA pitching, then come back and post his usual plus .900 OPS like he has done the last three years. Will he? I have no idea. I’ve never seen him look as boring at the plate in his career. Maybe Toledo will build his confidence. Maybe Toledo will embarrass him enough to do something.

I don’t know what to feel about Raburn at this point other than betrayal. I’ve stood up for you, Ryno, a lot of us have, and I hope you figure it out. Luckily for you, there’s no one else better and you’re getting as many chances as you can, and many, many, more than you deserve.

  • Liv

    When you put it that way, I guess I won’t complain anymore…

  • verlander

    Screw it, let’s just make Quintin Berry the new second baseman and DH. At the same time. And then trade him for Neil Walker.

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  • Kevine640

    The problem is there is a shortage of decent 2bs…. I mean, it really is somethning – there appears to be less than 20MLB quality 2B in all of baseball (minors included)

    Option 1  We talked about Walker, but his defense is a major concern…. plus the Pirates don’t have a plan B.

    Option 2 – Martin Prado may be available for a trade, if so… the Tiger’s need to snatch him up – he probably is the best of the *maybe* available players.

    Option 3 - trade Castellanos or Turner for a Top 50 prospect who happens to be in Triple A and plays 2b. The problem… if you look at Keith Law’s Top 100 prospects NONE play 2b!

    Option 4 – Trade for a AAAA player who is stuck at second. Kevin Russo is behind Robinson Cano – he seems to be ok for OBP – in the .330s and has a little speed. If he plays a decent defenese 2B it may be enough. I am sure the Yankees wouldn’t ask too much for a 27/28 year old career minor leaguer who happens to be stuck behind Cano. Not exactly ideal, but the Tiger’s need someone that can carry an OBP that is over .250 to hit ninth. In truth, he may not be any better than Eric Patterson.

    Option 5 stick with Raburn

    Option 6 – I’d play second and accept the league minimum.

    • http://www.walkoffwoodward.com/ Josh Worn

       I like the sixth option

      • Kevine640

        Maybe I will be the person they bring in to fill Raburn’s roster spot. …. I guess I may need to buy a new suit …. and some new cleats.

        This just in – I am hitting second in tonight’s game. Leyland told me that, “He really needs to get me going.”

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