There is a long running theory in our house that the Tigers have some sort of Voldemort/Defense Against the Dark Arts type curse going on at second base. The origin of this curse, we felt, was when the Tigers let Placido Polanco walk, because as much as we hated watching Granderson leave, that decision struck us as particularly stupid.
Yesterday, thanks to my husband, a new theory arose. It may have only partially been Polanco’s fault. No. The blame for the curse may have always rested on the shoulders of one Omar Infante.
Think about it! Omar Infante and Ramon Santiago were supposed to be the second baseman and shortstop of the future. In the 2004 season, Omar played 142 games, the majority of them at second base. And it did not go quite as planned. Omar hit .264 in 2004 and .222 in 2005 (not all games at second, mind you). Sensing the need for a hitter at that position, the Tigers went to the Phills and picked up one Placido Polanco, who proceeded to hit very, very well from 2005-2009 before he was stupidly unsigned despite hitting .285 and winning a Gold Glove. (You know what he did for Philly the next year? Hit .298. But I’m not bitter.)
So, based on our previous theory, Polanco was bitter for not getting the offer from the Tigers he deserved and placed a curse on second base. I certainly wouldn’t blame him. But let’s consider Omar for a moment. Despite having his job taken, he hung around and played off our bench for two more seasons, playing pretty much every position on the field, and watched Polanco be the second baseman his team always wanted before finally going to the Braves for the 2009 season. Still, he played off the bench, playing only 30 of 70 total games that year at second.
But a funny thing happened in 2010. The Braves played Omar for 134 games, 65 at second base. He hit .321 that year and was assigned to the All-Star team as a reserve second baseman. Huh. In fact, over the years prior, though it was generally smaller sample sizes, he was quietly increasing his batting average. The Marlins obviously noticed this and made him their daily second baseman in 2011 and, as well all know, 2012, with good results. The Tigers, having endured multiple years of years of second base insanity (Raburn, Santiago, Worth, Inge, Rhymes, Guillen, Sizmore, . . .), looked back to Infante, who was playing very well for a team that has become the laughing stock of the National League, and said “Son, your time as come. Come home”.
And what has Infante done since? In 15 games, he’s hit .315, 8 RBIs, 2 home runs, 2 triples.
Yes, Polanco might have cursed the second base position. But isn’t it equally likely that second base, after losing Polanco, has just been waiting for Infante to come home?