We kicked this off with 22 likely "locks" on the Tigers' playoff roster yesterday. (Honestly, I think you could go with 23, but that would cut down on the number of posts I could milk this for so I won't.) This series will continue throughout the week. Today, it continues with an infielder who may find his way onto roster: Will Rhymes
If you think about it, Will Rhymes appears to be a long shot for the Tigers' playoff roster. If you think about it like the Tigers, he may not be as long a shot as you think.
To begin, I have to say I am surprised that Rhymes can be such a polarizing figure. Some rebellious nature against a player others deem "scrappy," mainly because he is shorter than 6 feet tall and an infielder? I don't get it.
A quick look at his season-long statistics would almost seem to disqualify Rhymes from further consideration, as he's batting .228 with a .588 OPS. He's not going to win a Gold Glove with his play at second base either. Further, when you compare him with Danny Worth, you see Worth as a player who can play multiple infield position and Rhymes as one limited to second base. So it would certainly seem a long shot for him.
But there are some things working in Rhymes' favor. I think the first is that he bats left handed. That's a nice platoon for Ryan Raburn, if Ramon Santiago is necessary at shortstop for some reason. The second is that he has a bit of a track record of stealing bases in the minor leagues. The past two seasons, he had 20+ steals. This season he's at 13 in Toledo and 1 in Detroit. Leyland has used him as a pinch runner in Detroit this year for that reason (I assume).
Another is that Leyland has used him a few times this month and Rhymes has responded well. Obviously, you want to scream "small sample size" here at the tops of your lungs -- which is fair -- but it's a data point that will almost certainly come into play during discussions in the manager's office. Rhymes is hitting .273 with a .333 OBP and .455 slugging average in September.
Let's not forget while many Tigers fans and analysts thought Rhymes had no shot to make the team out of spring training, he was Leyland's choice. (Conversely, he didn't hit well enough to keep the job, which may detract from his chances now.)
When you add it all up, I could see Rhymes being selected for the playoff roster if Carlos Guillen is unable to go. Still, it's far from a sure thing.
Reasons Rhymes could make the playoff roster:
- Hitting well in September
- Plays second base, and Carlos Guillen's injury opens the position up for him
- Can be trusted to field the position in the late innings
- Perceived as a base stealer
Reasons Rhymes may not make the playoff roster
- Didn't respond well to first opportunity in 2011
- Danny Worth can field more positions at at higher level, including shortstop
- Could be seen as too redundant with other places already on the roster