If you spent any time at all on Twitter or Facebook today, you were witness to a social media meltdown when the Detroit Tigers released today's lineup. Why all the fan angst? With the return of Austin Jackson to center field, Quintin Berry was out of the starting lineup, while Delmon Young remained.
Despite all the praise for Berry, fans claiming he was smoking hot, the opposite was actually true. Yes, Berry got off to a historically fast start. After 5 games, Berry was hitting like a Hall of Famer, with a .381 BA, and slash numbers of .458 OBP /.476 SLG /.935 OPS. If you happened to catch any sports talk radio, you would have thought the Tigers had unearthed a new All-Star and the solution to all their offensive woes. But those fans failed to realize those were unsustainable numbers for a 27 year old with a career minor league OPS of .697 getting his first taste of the majors.
Since Berry went on his 5 game tear after being called up, reality has set in, as many of us on BYB warned. He's batting .244 .with slash numbers of .306/.378 /684. In May, Berry's BABIP was an insane .542. In June, it's a more realistic .273. We are now seeing the real Quintin Berry.
At the same time on the social networks, fans were flaming mad Delmon Young remained in the starting lineup over Berry. Once again, their anger was misplaced.
In the same time frame Berry is hitting .244 and slugging .378, Young is hitting .289, with slash numbers of .289/.511/.800. Young isn't getting on base at any great clip (does he ever?), but that's not his game. Young is in the lineup to hit the ball, with power, period. I'll take an OPS of .800 over one of .684 every time. Honestly, I'll take Andy Dirks' .894 OPS over both of them (and I'm not completely sold on him), but he's not an option at the moment.
Berry has earned a place on the Tigers' roster. But it's as a backup outfielder and late innings pinch runner/hitter, not as an everyday player.
FYI: We know the following about the Tigers' short-handed bullpen going into today's game. Phil Coke is unavailable to pitch, the Tigers would prefer to not use Joaquin Benoit if at all possible, and the status of Octavio Dotel remains a question mark. Justin Verlander best be on his game.