Don Kelly belongs in the majors


Kurt wants 30 FanPosts this month. Obviously, us regulars need to step it up a bit to reach that goal. I see you, Kurt. Now, I thought, what to write about? Some brilliant genius had already written about Jhonny Peralta's awesomeness, so that option was out. Then, because as SanDiegoMick puts it I'm a "wise guy," I decided to write about the most inflammatory topic on the Tigers.

Buckle up, ladies and gentlemen. This is going to get fun.

Donald Thomas Kelly was born on February 15, 1980 (thanks, Wikipedia). After a relatively successful high school and college career, the Detroit Tigers drafted him in the 8th round of the 2001 draft. If anyone wants to know/drink themselves to death, the Tigers picked Kenny Baugh and Mike Woods in the 1st round that year. Yes, Don Kelly has been more valuable than either of the two guys the Tigers drafted 7 rounds prior.

The Pirates eventually called up gritty middle infielder Don Kelly on April 2, 2007. Yes, he can (or could) play second. After toiling in the Pirates' and Diamondbacks' farm system in 2007 and 2008, Kelly caught on with the Tigers in 2009. He was called up on June 9th of that year. Fangraphs says he hit for a .650 OPS and was exactly replacement level.

Since 2009,. Kelly has been a mainstay with the Tigers. During that span, he has hit .228 for Detroit and been worth 1.1 fWAR. Most of the WAR can be attributed to a good 2010 year fielding. Clearly, it can be concluded that Kelly is a rather mediocre player.

In the past, I have been as critical of Don Kelly as anyone. I blamed him, I used him as the butt of my jokes, I even drowned this paper effigy of him in the sink of my 8th grade geometry class. I think things are getting out of hand, though. Everyone needs to step back and look at the big picture.

but I don’t think Kelly belongs in the majors. We need a better bench guy that can add some speed or power. His defense is redundant since we no longer have Young or Boesch to worry about.

Great Game

but kelly’s a bum player and needs to replace Lamont if Leyland loves him so much

Our 4th outfield is Don Kelly, we could just blame him for our entire outfield.

These quotes have been taken off of BYB over the last few days. They come from well-respected minds, as the vast majority of people on this site are calm and level-headed. In fact, two of them are from Rainbow Brite himself, Keith-Allen. There are more, but they aren't the point and I'm too lazy to find them. The point is that Don Kelly seems to have driven us all so far up the wall that even the most rational want his head,

Kelly is on pace for a .595 OPS for the season. Not very good, I agree. However, it's also not terrible for a 25th man. Alex Gonzalez had a Big League job for 2 months, for Pete's sake. Digging a little deeper, we find that Kelly has three stats that jump out and show he may have legitimately improved as a hitter.

1. 1.09 BB/K. This is a good sign because OBP is good. Hitters who can draw a lot of walks and not strike out a ton are going to be more productive hitters. Unless, of course, you're Dustin Ackley. Kelly's rate comes after languishing most of his career in the 0.40 range.

2. .132 ISO. Kelly's Isolated Power is at ,132, which indicates that Donnie has had decent pop in his bat when he's made contact. This rate falls just .04 of his career high, which was set in 2011. Kelly's power seems all the more impressive when you consider number 3.

3. BABIP of .175. Don isn't going to post a BABIP of .320 ever with the contact he makes. Heck, he'll likely rarely ever sniff .280. However, Kelly has a career average of .244. Even during his atrocious 2011, Kelly had a BABIP of .222. If we normalize his stats to have a BABIP 50 points higher, his batting average rises close to 45 points. Who doen't want a 5th outfielder that posts an OPS of .700?

Sure, the power surge and plate discipline are likely to regress, so Kelly won't be a .700 OPS hitter, but the stats suggest Kelly has had more bad fortune than good. The odds are that he will be a better hitter from here on out.

The final stat that I'd like to present is a made up one called WAR/500. The basic idea of what I'm doing is taking his fWAR and multiplying it out to represent a 500 PA season pace. With a 0.4 fWAR through 89 PAs, Kelly's WAR/500 stands at a solid 2.2. Now, we should have little faith in him to continue the pace he's putting up in the Fangraphs defensive metrics, but still, wouldn't we take 3/4 of that pace over 200 PAs?

One final thing I've noticed in the Great Kelly Debate is the lack of replacement offered. Guez and Russo are blocked by Tuiasosopo. Johnson doesn't have the athleticism or experience to play in Detroit. If Castellanos gets called up to rot on the bench with Garcia, I will throw things. Berry Martinez is not a good hitter. There just seems nobody in the system that can step into Kelly's role and outperform the 25th-man production Kelly has offered.

This isn't meant to start up the Garcia versus Kelly debate again. This is in no way condoning or criticizing how Leyland has managed his lineups this year. If you read this and feel the need to complain, I urge you to direct your complaints elsewhere. This article was meant to defend Don Kelly, the ballplayer. Thanks.

Oh my goodness, I've written 1000 words on Don Kelly. I need a life Kurt should put me on the payroll. After all, great minds think alike.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the <em>Bless You Boys</em> writing staff.