We know that Quintin Berry is basically, more or less, I do suppose, a mainstay, if you will, in the Detroit Tigers lineup. Against right handed pitchers he bats second. Against left handed pitchers he
For example, he sat against Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox last Saturday, who is a pretty tough left handed pitcher. He sat against C.J. Wilson on Jul 18th, who is a pretty tough lefty. He started against Wei-Yin Chen on July 14th. Chen is a new-but-somewhat-still-tough left handed pitcher, so Berry batted ninth. Then on July 8th he batted second against Everett Teaford (yes!) who is…well, he’s one of twelve pitchers who started games for the Kansas City Royals this year, so you can guess how talented he is (hint, he wasn’t one of their first ten choices). The day before he started and batted second against Bruce Chen, and we all know how talented Bruce Chen is.
I’d find more examples, but Frankly I’m tired of looking at box scores so I won’t keep doing it. Besides, you get the point; Berry is in the lineup on a daily basis and when it comes to left handed pitchers it just depends on their reputation. Bam. You go, Jim Leyland, you go!
But, Berry’s frequent appearance in the starting lineup is hardly the point of this splendid Walkoff Woodward Analysis. Oh no sir. We are here to try and discover a solid reason that he is still playing everyday, other than the fact that the other left field option is Ryan Raburn.
Is there one?
It’s hard to determine, really. July hasn’t been a kind month for him. Before Wednesday’s game he was only hitting .226/.304/.339. After Wednesday’s game he was hitting .258/.338/.364. That tells you one thing: small sample sizes can be easily influenced from horrible looking to just bad looking.
But let’s look a little bit closer. On July 14th he went 3-for-6. On July 16th he went 3-for-5.Wednesday he went 3-for-4. Those three games he went 9-for-15. In every other game in July he went 8-for-51, which is a .157 average.
Other than the fact that those numbers are interesting to look at, they don’t mean anything. They may mean he is a streaky hitter. They may mean nothing other than he’s struggling to put together consistent quality at bats. They may mean that he’s finally regressing to the league. But for now, all we know is that those numbers are either going to be a base to work off of, or an outlier, and speculating is rather pointless.
What I do think means something is the fact that he only has three stolen bases all month, two of them coming on July 16th, in what was his second three hit game. To me, at least, that means he isn’t being aggressive enough when he actually is on first base. (The game in which he stole two bases and had three hits he scored twice). Granted, it’s hard to justify stealing when you are hitting in front of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, which is a teaser statement that I will transition into in a later paragraph.
There have been some speculation as to how Quintin Berry can kick start his game. In the prologue to Wednesday’s game, Berry was working on his bunting. Let’s kick it to Jason Beck for a few well written paragraphs about said bunting:
“You have to work just like you do hitting in BP,” Berry said. “You can’t just keep going every day with just getting one bunt down. You have to get out there. You have to work on it and practice it. I’ve been struggling as of late with getting my bunts down.”
The work paid off during the game, just not the way you’d expect. He didn’t get a bunt down. He still had three hits, all well-placed singles.
Go figure. As Berry explained, working on his bunts actually helps him as a hitter.
“That allows my eyes to see the ball deep,” he said. “I’ve noticed a lot in my career, days when I do that, I usually end up having pretty decent days. It kind of helps me see the ball. I think that helped a little.”
Okay, besides the yawn, yawn, yaaaawwwwwwwn quotes from a big league ballplayer, I am wondering to myself….if bunting practice helps to the point that you notice that you have decent days on the field after you practice why not make this a routine?
Quintin Berry, if you happen to be reading this:
“Why do you not make this a daily routine?”
…it was what manager Jim Leyland wanted to see.
“We were talking about it before the game, sometimes he gets a little aggressive and tries to do a little bit too much,” Leyland said. “Tonight he was just laying the bat on the ball. He was working on his bunting before the game, dragging and pushing.”
To not at least attempt this, frankly, would not and does not make sense.
Berry doesn’t strike out a ton, which is what you want out of your second place hitter. His on base percentage, even given his July struggles, is still sitting at .373, which would put him in the top 15 in the league if he qualified. Having said that, there’s no way that anyone can truly criticize Leyland for batting him second.
But I wonder if that’s the best place for his speed?
As mentioned above, you don’t necessarily want Berry running in front of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. He’s done it, and hasn’t failed yet, but it’s really only been in situations where a catcher with a poor arm is in the receiving end of a pitcher who has a slow delivery, so to say Berry takes many chances isn’t exactly truthful.
Speaking of which, perhaps the reason he isn’t running wild on the bases is because management has a pretty tight leash on him. He has shown that his baserunning instincts leave much to be desired and he may have run himself into a caution sign with the Tigers’ play callers.
Regardless, I wonder if Omar Infante, another contact hitter, wouldn’t be a perfect two hole bat, and stick Berry in at number nine against right handed hurlers.
Reason? Start to trust him more, let him steal bases, and if he gets thrown out, you still have the top of the order up.
That’s not as serious a suggestion as the daily bunting routine is, but I wonder if it wouldn’t hurt to try.
At least, until Andy Dirks returns.