Sunday, June 24, 2012

Quintin Berry

BA, Runners in Scoring Position (min. 25 AB)
.448 Quintin Berry (Tigers) 29 AB
.429 Daniel Nava (Red Sox) 49
.426 Skip Schumaker (Cardinals) 47
.410 Evan Longoria (Rays) 39
.409 Jonathan Lucroy (Brewers) 66

If you don't follow the Tigers, you might not know about the saga of Quintin Berry. Against all odds, he has seemingly played his way into the starting lineup on most days.  Since being called up for his Major League debut on May 23 to fill in for an injured Austin Jackson (at the age of 27 after being released from several other organizations), he has hit over .300, has a .396 OBP and 11 steals (and hasn't been thrown out once). 

He has managed to stay in the starting lineup for the most part with Andy Dirks on the DL and with the struggles of Delmon Young and Brennan Boesch.  The local experts seem to almost uniformly agree that this won't last but that he should be playing until the league figures him out, at which point he can be a valuable bench player. 

I have thought that the odds are that he's not a future All-Star, but now I'm not so sure.   Sure, 29 AB isn't a huge sample size, but he seems to hit when guys are on base.  He needs to cut down on the strike outs (30 in 97 AB), but that's not an uncommon problem.  He has great speed and an ability to steal bases (something the Tigers aren't exactly known for). 

Who is another player similar to Berry?  Maybe Scott Podsednik.  Podsednik was a 3rd round pick in 1994 (Berry was a 5th rounder in 2006), and didn't make it to the majors until 2001 with the Mariners.  He was claimed off waivers by the Brewers in 2002 and came in 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting in 2003.  He was traded to the White Sox and was a key part of their World Series team in 2005.  He led the NL in stolen bases in 2004 (with 70) and has 307 in his career.  He's been slowed by injuries in recent years (and is on the DL now with the Red Sox). 

He made one All-Star team and is not going to the Hall of Fame, but he had a nice career and most people probably wouldn't have predicted that when he was a 26 year old player that had been released by several teams.  Is Quintin Berry capable of doing this?  It is still too early to know, but he is making it easier to believe with every game.

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