Sean Casey has earned Tiger everyday 1B role

Sean Casey
Sean Casey has been a major point of discussion ever since arriving in Detroit just before the trade deadline last year (2006). Much of the initial negative reactions were due to his replacing a fan favorite in Chris Shelton but looking back now, seeing Sheltons’ performance this year and last in Toledo, replacing him was the right move. Unfortunately Casey didn’t come into Detroit and produce as his historical stats had suggested he would and ended the season batting .245/.286/.364. before having a breakout postseason (.432/.447/.730).

Once he was signed again this past off season to a one-year $4M contract many felt the Tigers should have given Chris Shelton another shot at first or move Marcus Thames to first to gather more at-bats. In the end, Jim Leyland decided to take a middle road with the latter option. So far this year Leyland has started Casey when a right handed pitcher is on the mound and started Marcus Thames when a left handed pitcher is on the mound. Recognizing the gap in defensive play, Casey is often then substituted in late-innings when Thames was given the start.

This has worked out well, particularly when Casey was producing little during April, but since then Detroit has better options. Sean Casey has been a strong member of the Detroit offense since April batting .349 in May and .355 in June. At the same time, Craig Monroe has continued his massive slump and through June provided very little offense at all, 15 total hits to be exact. These combined have provided a better option to getting Thames at-bats by replacing Monroe in the lineup instead of Casey.

So why exactly is this better?

1) Marcus is less of a defensive liability playing left field than at first base.

Might sound funny but it is true. Sure, maybe this might not be true if he were given time to learn the position but there isn’t a reason to do so right now anyway. Marcus has surprised me with his play in left field and his stats spell this out. His range has been above league average and he has a 1.000 fielding percentage through 27 games. At first-base he has been below league average in both range and fielding percentage where Casey has been above in both.

With errant throwers such as Carlos Guillen and Brandon Inge continuously peppering first base and forcing heroic picks out of the dirt; Casey is the preferred player for that position. Sure, it is true, Craig is still better in left field than Marcus but we loose less with Marcus in LF than 1B.

2) Offensive gains for Detroit are greater with Thames replacing Monroe than Casey.

When Marcus replaces Sean Casey, Leyland is trading average for power. When Marcus replaces Craig Monroe, Leyland doesn’t trade away average but still gains power. When Thames fills in for Sean Casey against LHP’s the reason is not because Casey, as a lefty, has a hard time against them. The reason is because Thames cannot hit RHP’s so lefties are really the viable option to give him at-bats. That said, Craig Monroe also struggles massively against right-handers and does more-so than Marcus.

In fact, 7 of Thames 10 home runs this year have come from RHP’s while his batting average against them is a measly .202. Monroe, on the other hand, is batting .185 against RHP’s.

I’m not certain what Detroit should do past 2007 at first base. My initial feelings are to sign Sean Casey for at least another year because Thames and Shelton are proving not to be everyday players. But regardless of what happens in the future, Sean Casey gives Detroit the better chance this year.

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12 Responses to Sean Casey has earned Tiger everyday 1B role

  1. Pingback: The Detroit Tiger Weblog » Blog Archive » links for 2007-07-16

  2. Doug Purdie says:

    Can we get Carlos Pena back?

  3. Deke says:

    Couldn’t disagree with you more I think Casey has been a total waste. Well except for his hitting in the World Series when nobody else was, but that was because it was against the NL. Hell if there wasn’t interleague he would hoover around .220. He brings nothing to the table that Shelton doesn’t. It is a wash in hitting for average, Shelton is faster more athletic, Chris does strike out too much. With all of that said Casey is just a marginal player and he doesn’t bring much to the table.

  4. Jon D says:

    Deke,
    Are you watching this year’s Detroit Tigers? Casey has been stellar defensively and is batting .300.. Also, he strikes out less than Sheff and Maggs and is on pace for 150+ hits this year… You are either crazy or related to Shelton.

  5. Jon D says:

    Deke,

    Let me also add that your opinion might be one of the most ill-informed and ridiculous statements I’ve ever read from a Tigers fan.

  6. Eric Jackson says:

    Sean Casey is a better first baseman than Chris Shelton. Shelton is faster running but Casey is better at first.

    When it comes to the differences in hitting, they are different. Casey, outside of last year with the Tigers, hits .300 consistently. He doesn’t walk often (9%) but also doesn’t strike out all to often (about 10% of the time).

    Chris Shelton has a 28.7% K rate this year. That’s near what he did with the Tigers last year as well. He has lost most of his power that we saw last year and struggles with consistency, though he does walk slightly more (14.4%)

    I pulled for Shelton after last season. I expected that they would go with Chris and not resign Sean. I’m glad they did sign Sean though looking at Shelton’s struggles where he rode the Mendoza line to start the season.

    If the Tigers decide to upgrade at 1b then I hope they decide to go with a player that brings more value, not less or even the same.

  7. Deaner says:

    Sean Casey is a very important player on the team. He brings character to the clubhouse, hits for a high average, and plays a great first base. Casey gets it done when it counts – remember the World Series… he became the hottest hitter for the Tigers, belting 2 home runs and batting in five in five games. His .432 batting average was one of the best in Tigers postseason history. What’s not to like about Casey?

  8. Barbara Stebbins says:

    Just read today that Leyland and Dombrowski met with Sean to tell him he won’t be back next year. I guess somewhere I knew this, but hoped against it. Sean is such a class act! He has been a wonderful add to the team, from the clubhouse to his ability to move the players along. His final words “…this is the greates year and a half of my career…”

    Sean, you are what was great about last and this year’s team. You will be missed and when I look out from our seats at first base, I will wish you were there. How can we go through a game with a glove check, a back stretch and a foot in the bucket. We noticed you in Pittsburgh and came to rely on your routine in Detroit…and we loved your triple!!!!

  9. Anna says:

    I love Sean Casey. I think it is a mistake to not resign him!!

  10. Josh says:

    I needed a place to put this:

    DD is trying to give us all strokes by blowing up the infield for 2008 not even 24 hours removed from the season. I would like to think that moving Guillen to 1B was simply the lesser of many evils, and that Casey’s release was simply an accommodation for this. However with the voids at SS and C that seem to me, difficult to fill, I wish this was a decision that took more time to make. This is the *same* infield that meshed so well, helping Polonco achieve an errorless season and MLB record at his position. He didn’t do it by himself.

    Even still, if Casey’s season was really a part of the decision to let him go, I feel cheated. It depresses me that the attitude around baseball is that if you don’t hit 20 HR per year playing as 1B, then you are a loser, and can’t play for your team.

    That’s all I have to say really.

  11. Deke says:

    Good-bye! This is the right move for the team no matter what everyone on this blog says. John D I guess you can come after me again and tell me how stupid I am, but the fact of the matter is Casey is sub-par and now he is gone. If Casey was the great ball player all of you thought he was he would be here next year, than k goodness you guys are running the team.

  12. Kim says:

    Sean Casey represents everything that is good about baseball. He’s an all around good player, all around stand-up guy and any team should be happy to have him. He is the the kind of player that brings out the best in his team-mates. He will be missed in Detroit!

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