Monday, March 24, 2008

Answer: All of the Above

If you're Jim Leyland, you play Brandon Inge at shortstop in a spring training game because:

a) You want to have a little fun before breaking camp;
b) You want to showcase a disgruntled player's versatility in order to increase his trade value; or
c) You just realized that your starting shortstop missed 37 games last year and ain't getting any younger.

I hope this isn't a one-time thing and that Inge can actually handle the position, because I can't think of anyone other than one-game gimmicks like Jose Oquendo who actually played catcher and shortstop.

Inge did play an awesome third base last season, so here's hopin' . . .

Update: ShysterBall readers, as always, come through. Check the comments for the full discussion, but for a glimpse into how rare the air Inge could be breathing really is, I turn things over to Roger Moore in comment 10 below:

Poking around with the Lahman database, it looks as though there have indeed been very few players to put in significant time at both catcher and short. There are only two players who put together as many as 100 games at each position: Jack Rowe and Bobby Bragan. Fewer than a dozen had as many as 50 games at each position, and most of those were 19th Century guys. Bragan and Mo Berg are the only players who debuted after 1900 to get even 50 games at both positions.

Even if you relax the standard to 10 games at each position, you can only extend the list to 12 post-1900 players. Noteworthy names in addition to Bragan and Berg are Don Zimmer (mentioned by mr. thursday) and Jamie Quirk. The pre-1900 list is much more distinguished. It includes 4 HOFers: Orator O'Rourke, King Kelly, Ned Williamson, and Buck Ewing. Those 19th Century guys were obviously forced to be more flexible than today's players.
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10 comments:

Roger Moore said...

I can't think of anyone other than one-game gimmicks like Jose Oquendo who actually played catcher and shortstop.

Try Mo Berg. He came up as a highly touted shortstop and converted to catcher after reaching the majors. Now that is a rare transition.

Shyster said...

Ah, nice catch, Roger. A rare transition indeed, but then again, Mo Berg wasn't exactly your average major leaguer.

Come to think of it, he wasn't your average anything.

Dre said...

It'd make sense to play Inge everyday at 3B and move Cabrera to LF while Granderson is out, of course that's too logical and obviously won't happen.

Jacob said...

Could Cabrera play an adequate LF at this point?

Cheese said...

And would they actually want Jacque Jones in center with Cabrera in left?

Mac said...

One of the problems with these attempts to assemble an all-star team tends to be the defense...

Tyler Houston (the poor man's Brandon Inge) played a game at shortstop in 1997. I was thinking that Biggio might have moved over to short for a few innings at some point, but no. A lot of players seem to have been catcher/shortstops as amateurs.

Barron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Michael Barret: 2 games at SS in 1999.

Mr. Thursday said...

Don Zimmer, back in the 18th century, played 35 games at catcher, and 288 at short. In fact, Zimmer had about 600 games at 2B/SS--more than half his total games played, and still had 35 games behind the plate. No gimmick for him, apparently.

Roger Moore said...

Poking around with the Lahman database, it looks as though there have indeed been very few players to put in significant time at both catcher and short. There are only two players who put together as many as 100 games at each position: Jack Rowe and Bobby Bragan. Fewer than a dozen had as many as 50 games at each position, and most of those were 19th Century guys. Bragan and Mo Berg are the only players who debuted after 1900 to get even 50 games at both positions.

Even if you relax the standard to 10 games at each position, you can only extend the list to 12 post-1900 players. Noteworthy names in addition to Bragan and Berg are Don Zimmer (mentioned by mr. thursday) and Jamie Quirk. The pre-1900 list is much more distinguished. It includes 4 HOFers: Orator O'Rourke, King Kelly, Ned Williamson, and Buck Ewing. Those 19th Century guys were obviously forced to be more flexible than today's players.