The unusual and misguided confidence of Brandon Inge

Confidence is important for a ballplayer, but misguided confidence can lead to troubles on and off the field.

Brandon Inge had tremendous confidence, but average big league ability. In most ways Inge was a below average major league baseball player, but he had a couple skills that kept him in the game, namely his throwing arm and ability to at least pass muster at several positions. That confidence never left him, and he survived in Detroit as a “cute mutt” whom many fans fell in love with.

For much of his career the front office accepted his warts because he was a warm body. Inge was a catcher, and not a very good one, when the Tigers signed Ivan Rodriguez as a free agent before the 2004 season. The team did him a favor, told him he could still wear a uniform and play the role of big league ballplayer, but he’d need to become a third baseman. He had a very good arm, and was athletic enough, they figured. The team was going to be mediocre, so why not give this low-paying kid the job? Inge pouted, and told the media he felt he was just as good a catcher as Pudge.

Remarkably, despite that historic display of stupidity, people still took him seriously. Inge, admittedly, had two decent seasons, had nice range at third and always had that rocket arm. He ran into some fastballs when he wasn’t striking out 150+ times a year.

But Inge started to believe the cheers he got from the fans who loved his underdog story. He thought he should hit higher in the order, he thought he should win a Gold Glove. He made an All-Star team one year after smacking a ton of homers in the first half and he thought that meant he was a star.

His last six years in Detroit, Inge was the worst everyday player in baseball, and it wasn’t even close. The team got better all around him, he lost his job, and the Tigers sent him to the minor leagues after he hit under .200 for close to 200 games over a three-year stretch. He told reporters (with a straight face) that he could come back and be a second baseman. The media kept covering him like he was relevant because some Tigers fans loved the mutt.

Detroit released him not long after a brief second base experiment and the A’s picked him up. In his first nine games in an Oakland uniform, Inge hit four home runs and had 17 RBIs. He finished that year on the west coast, signed with the Pirates, played his last 50 games and hit one last home run, and it was over.

12 replies on “The unusual and misguided confidence of Brandon Inge

  • Detroit Tigers Fan

    This is in extremely bad taste. The rhetoric used lack’s any semblance of professional journalism. The only mutt is you, author.

    Reply
    • Dan Holmes

      This is an opinion piece. This isn’t a news story. Surely you’ve read an op-ed piece?
      Do you simply disagree with my opinion? That’s fine, but explain how. Attacking this as unprofessional is strange, because I am not claiming to write an encyclopedia here.

      Reply
  • Jeff Sak

    I was no a fan of Inge, but I need to point out that you yet again got your facts wrong. Inge’s only All-Star appearance was in 2009 when the Tigers had three other All-Stars: Justin Verlander, Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson. Inge was not selected “because someone had to represent Detroit”. He was voted in as the final roster spot winning final vote over four other players.
    This entire piece is a lazy attempt to cover a valid subject. You make no mention of Inge complaining that he had to move back to catcher from 3rd when the Tigers acquired 3rd basemen Miguel Cabrera.

    Reply
    • Dan Holmes

      Thanks for reading. You are correct, Inge was selected as part of the MLB All-Star Game Final Four vote-in process. I made the change.

      I stand by what I write about Inge. The gap between how good he thought he was, and how good he actually was remains as wide as any player to ever wear a Detroit uniform. My opinion. Put your opinion in writing, I’d like to see it.

      Reply
  • John Sabo

    I said all this years ago to all the “Cr”Inge lovers. Lol. Like many great “athlete’s”, he had that swag. Hit a golf ball 300 LH/RH and all that stuff. Many so called athletic things like that. Too bad he wasn’t just great/good at the game of Baseball. Lol. Many fans thought cool (knew the game) if loved him. Mostly Moms. He was dead wrong on how many fans were irritated at the love of him and HIS PLAY!! Haaa. Not sure he was so misguided at his actual play and how many fans hated him. Lol. He was hit in the game 163 (tie breaker Twins game). Hit his jersey. That HBP would have won the game!! Does he “act” like he was hit like like 99.9% of batters who wernt hit. Never mind fact he WAS hit!!!! Lol. Nope!! Then after game says “I rather win the game with a hit”. Lol. Ya so do we. But not gonna happen. Haaahaaa. What a tool.

    Reply
    • Dan Holmes

      Due to space I didn’t include the bizarre interview Inge had after the 2009 Game 163. As you state, he told reporters that he would rather win the game with a hit. Very odd that he didn’t want to score the go-ahead run in any way he could.

      Reply
  • Chris Guyor

    I was not a huge Inge fan, either, but this feels like he did you wrong somehow and you needed revenge. His status as a Detroit “icon” is mystifying to me as well, but overall he was a decent guy who was well-liked on the team, even if he “popped off” a few times. Baseball is a business, and while he made the team while they were really bad, he also stuck with them for a number of years when they were good, and even played in a World Series (A World Series where he hit .353). He was a player. He had 1,100+ hits and 150+ home runs. He is better than 99% of the people in the world who have ever played baseball. You might want to factor that into your analysis.

    Reply
    • Dan Holmes

      Thanks for reading. This article and blog isn’t about the 7 billion people who can’t play baseball. It’s about the few who make it to the major leagues. I stand by my assessment of Inge’s time in a Detroit uniform. He was an inflated fan favorite who had a weird overconfidence in himself that was divorced from reality.

      Had he been a Don Kelly type: understood clearly what his role was and been realistic about his limitations, Inge could have been a very good team member. Instead, as I allude to, he actually got angry or pouted when the team took actions to change his role or limit his playing time based on poor performance. He was the worst type of role player: he never understood his limits and frequently placed his own desires ahead of the team.

      Reply
  • Charles

    You forget to mention one of the all time delusional Brandon Inge quotes. Remember when he claimed the reason he was struggling is because the opposing pitchers were pitching him like he was Babe Ruth? Yeah, I’m sure the opposing pitchers were terrified of the guy with a career .233 batting average and 82 OPS+, LOL.

    Reply
  • Mike

    How about his All Star participation in the Home Run Derby ? LMAO I think he hot 3 balls past the infield, none came close to the fence. I knew it would be embarrassing, but it was worse then that.

    Reply
    • Mike

      I forgot to add, as far as the game 163 hit by pitch opportunity. He jumped out of the way, THEN he argued that it did hit his jersey once he realized we would take the lead. Not the brightest or most focused ballplayer for certain. I recall on more then one occasion he would catch a ball and start to run off the field, only to be told it wasn’t the 3rd out yet. Comical

      Reply

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