Too much was said and written about Ryan Raburn with the Tigers this season. Too much was made of his struggles and the impact it had on the team’s results. But it’s a topic that Jim Leyland couldn’t avoid Tuesday as he talked about the 2012 campaign and all that went into it, good and bad.
Clearly, the Tigers made an error in judgement when it came to Raburn, who began the season as a regular in the lineup and then was effectively handed starting job at second base a month into the season. But after an awful start at the plate, he never recovered, never found that mid-summer on-off switch he found in previous seasons. As a result, Raburn, like Brandon Inge before him, became an easy target for the fans’ ire. As did Leyland, for continuing to put Raburn in the lineup until the All-Star break. He only started seven games after that — the Tigers finally made a trade to bring in Omar Infante at second base — and, mercifully, Raburn finished the season on the disabled list.
Rayburn’s final numbers: a .171 average, one home run, 14 doubles, 12 RBIs, 53 strikeouts and a .480 OPS.
And Leyland’s final take on the whole Ryan Raburn saga?
“I don’t want this to sound like I’m blaming him, because I’m not blaming him,” the manager said Tuesday. “I misread it. I thought Ryan Raburn would be that piece, offensively, against left-hand pitching this year. I mean, it made all the sense in the world with his home-run ratio the last three years. We thought it was perfect. I thought it was perfect, and so did the coaches. I just read it wrong, you know? I just made a bad judgment.
“I thought, ‘Here’s the second base job, here’s a vote of confidence, hit me 15-20 (home runs), knock in 70 (runs), play pretty good second base,’ and that’s pretty good,” Leyland said. “I thought that would happen. And I was wrong. And I’m not blaming him. It just didn’t happen. I misread it.”