We had a great turnout during the week — nine FanPosts were written in response to the prompt, including two by BYB staff. Some of our favorites were Call Me Ace’s post about Brandon Inge, SomeOtherShawn’s (currently relevant!) post about Anibal Sanchez, and Uncle Lefty’s post about Ryan Raburn. You can click here to read the rest of the responses. It was nice to see players who are often overlooked get some attention this week.
We asked the rest of the BYB staff to chime in.
This week’s question: Which Tigers player, past or present, do you irrationally love?
Patrick O.: Anibal Sanchez was my Tiger ever since shortly after the Tigers traded for him in 2012. In a starting rotation that featured Cy Young winners in Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, and later David Price, Sanchez quietly won the ERA title in 2013, being almost completely over shadowed by team mates who had the power arms and the hardware to garner all the attention. From 2012 through 2014, he had a better ERA than any of them, and an FIP of 2.76. He wasn't crappy until he was injured, but he has been the worst pitcher in the league ever since. I keep pulling for him, and hoping that he'll make some magic adjustment, but it's not going to happen. He's done, and should be let go. But as long as he's on the team, he's my Tiger.
Brandon: I'm going with Al Albuquerque. I could pick someone worse, like Danny Worth, but Al is that perfect fit. He was incredible for us in 2011, and then declined faster than expectations, year after year. He went through the arm injury in 2012, and from there quickly degraded into a guy you wanted in for a strikeout in the toughest situations, but otherwise couldn't trust for a whole inning. And yet the promise of more was so tantalizing, and always just out of reach. He was hard to quit, and then he suddenly put up a very solid season in 2014, finally getting the walks under control, and simply was passed over as Dombrowski flailed about trying to build a bullpen all year long. That was the last he had to give in the majors, and I'll always feel like we wasted him a bit.
Since then it's been all downhill for Al, but I'll never forget how jaw dropping that slider was, especially in 2011. I'll always remember the spontaneous hilarity of his kissing the ball before throwing out Cespedes to escape a nasty jam in the 2012 ALDS. He was an odd duck. A freak with a slider like a medieval torture device, almost a trick pitch, and a total space cadet out on the mound. An evil cackle for needling his teammates, and somehow one of those relievers I always felt was built for the big moments. A guy who just didn't have the focus and discipline to be really good, but who was blessed with that one incredible pitch. He wasn't really crappy, per se, but it always seemed like it because he could also be so damn good when he was on. Shine on you crazy diamond.
Nolan: Ramon Santiago was the longest-tenured role player you'll ever see. For reference, Don Kelly's reign of terror began when Santiago had already been around for seven seasons, and he only lasted one more. Santiago could always be counted on to get 300 PAs and play good enough defense to be a net positive off of the bench. Nothing would beat the glee on Rod Allen's voice as he yelled about "sneaky power". Santiago won't be remembered as a key part of the 2011-2013 run, but maybe he should.
Ashley: As far as terrible players go, Phil Coke will always hold a special place in my heart. Who can forget his impression of Miguel Cabrera, or that amazing point during the 2012 ALCS against New York? I still get chills thinking about that moment he spiked his glove into the ground. There was a period of time where The Ginger Goatee was actually really good, and we'd all get excited to see #40 come into a game. Like all bullpen arms, that couldn't last forever, and Coke soon became the kind of guy fans were terrified to see get the call. But through all that he still remained one of my favorites. He was always a lot of fun in interviews (does anyone remember when 'Phil Coke's Brain' got to interview Phil Coke? I sure do). He is one of the few Tigers who signed a ball for me at a game. He just had a very enjoyable presence on the team and even though he stopped being a reliable bullpen arm he was always a guy I rooted for. I think he's a starting pitcher in Japan now, which is awesome.