Story written by: Jake Exline
While Detroit Tigers’ outfielder Quintin Berry may have had somewhat below average season if you just look at his stats, he has made the best of his opportunity and accomplished quite a rare, historic feat. Berry has achieved something that has only been accomplished 4 times in Major League Baseball history. According to Baseball-Almanac.com, Berry’s 21 consecutive stolen bases in a single season tied him for second all-time with Kevin McReynolds, who accomplished the feat in 1988. Berry’s speed has clearly been his key to “success” in the Majors.
Quintin Berry as a remarkably quick first step to second base, and he has an innate ability to read pitchers to know the exact precise moment to take off. With his speed, he can maintain a medium-high .348 batting average with balls in play (BABIP). However, his big and unbalanced swing prevents him from being anywhere close to consistent.
His season stats ended at .258/.330/.354/.684, with 2 home runs, 29 runs batted in (RBI), 44 runs scored, 21 stolen bases, 75 hits and 80 strikeouts. Note that last stat; Berry has more strikeouts than hits, which is more of a common thing for a power hitter. Obviously, Berry has anything but power. In the beginning of his season, when he was first called up to the Majors, the Tigers luckily caught lightening in a bottle with Berry hitting over .300 in his first 25 or so games. But, as expected, his average fell off over the next few weeks hitting only .250 in July (before Dirks’ return). Once Dirks came back from his Achilles injury, Berry was benched and used in a role that suited him more as a late-inning pinch hitter and runner.
Berry has had an overwhelming amount of criticism (admittedly, myself included) ever since he was called up to fill in Austin Jackson in late May. While he has had a lot of criticism, he gotten even more praise by his fan base that describe him as a “sparkplug” and that he brings energy to the clubhouse and lineup when he plays. While I may not totally agree, I do see him as a leader-type personality that this team lacks for the most part. He clearly doesn’t take his opportunity to play at a Major League- level for granted, which explains his aggressiveness on the field, base paths, and at the plate.His future with the team, as of right now, doesn’t ride on the fact that he plays with
loads of energy. Frankly, he is one of the better options for his position over the likes of Brennan Boesch and Don Kelly. Berry’s 21 for 21 historic feat in stolen base attempts will play a key part in the upcoming playoffs, which is something that was missing from last years’ run. The Tigers’ only threat on the base paths last year was Austin Jackson; he only went 1-2 in the ALDS and ALCS combined in stolen base attempts. Berry’s 2013 prognosis with the team is a completely different story, and it may leave Berry back in the minors where he has already spent 6 + years of his career.
If the Tigers deal for a corner outfielder, with the rumors ranging from Shin Shoo Choo and Alex Gordon, to Nick Swisher and Josh Hamilton, Berry could be the odd man out. Although, if the Tigers choose not to go the route of dealing for a corner outfielder, Berry will have to prove himself worthy in spring training if he wishes to make the Detroit Tigers’ roster and not the Toledo Mud Hens’.