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Will Rhymes did almost all you could ask of him this year.

Every weekday between now and mid-November, we'll be looking closer at a Tigers player. For more information on the series, including a schedule, please check this post out.

OK. I guess the headline could be a bit misleading. Will Rhymes, in his two-plus months with the Detroit Tigers, hit for a .300 average and earned a few web gems from ESPN for his defensive prowess at second base. He also answered some questions for the folks here at BYB.

However, he did not run down to the local coffee place and bring me back a mocha, nor did he hit for much power or steal any bases. But you know what? That's OK.

The Tigers started the year with second baseman Scott Sizemore, who -- still recovering from a fracture in his ankle bone -- struggled at the plate and in the field. Carlos Guillen and a number of utility players manned the position over the next few months. Either shaky at the plate or in the field, they were a mixed bag, and then Rhymes arrived in late July. Other than a short period in mid-August when he was sent back to the minor leagues, he brought the most consistent play of the year to the position. You didn't have to worry about what would happen on a ground ball, nor did you worry that the Tigers would fail to produce base runners at the top of the lineup.

It was a nice change.

Solid B for the time he was in Detroit, but with an obviously incomplete first half.

At the plate:

2010 27 DET AL 54 213 191 30 58 12 3 1 19 0 3 14 16 .304 .350 .414 .763 107
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 10/26/2010.

Since Rhymes was in Detroit for exactly one-third of the year, his counting stats aren't going to be real meaningful. We can see from his rate stats that he was an above-average batter, which is even better considering his middle-infield position. If Rhymes were to have put up those numbers while getting enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, he would have been the second-best AL second baseman by OPS. For second basemen with at least 200 plate appearances, he was third of 15 in batting average and sixth in OPS.

To put the strikeouts and walks into better perspective: Rhymes walked in 6.6 percent of his plate appearances and struck out in 8.4 percent of them.

In the field:

It's hard to get much read from Ultimate Zone Rating given the relatively small sample size. He was slightly below average by the statistic.

Fans at TangoTiger's scouting report tagged him as an above-average fielder. He ranked in the top half of second basemen in the MLB with above average instincts, reaction, hands and throwing accuracy. As I wrote earlier, Rhymes made a few web-gem quality plays at the position and manned it best of anyone who was there for the Tigers this year.

What 2010 tells us about 2011:

Again, because Rhymes played just one-third of the season, making concrete predictions based on 2010 is difficult.

There are some good signs there. For one, he makes contact, and when he does it turns out well. His batting average for balls in play looks acceptable given his career figures and when factoring in that he bats left handed and has shown some speed in the past. If he can maintain a similar style of contacts -- 23 percent line-drive rate, 48 percent ground-ball rate -- he should be able to keep up his batting average.

Rhymes has never been a real power hitter beyond the extra-base speed. And you always worry a bit when a batter's game isn't real multi-dimensional. If the average goes away, then there's really nothing left you could hope to receive at the plate.

If Rhymes can bat near his 2010 levels and maintain his presence in the field, he's a useful starter near the top of almost any major league team's lineup card. I think he will earn his fair share of playing time in 2011, but he'll go into spring training battling Scott Sizemore to see who gets the first crack at starting as the Tigers' second baseman.


I used Baseball-Reference, Fangraphs, and TangoTigers's 2010 Scouting Report by the fans.