Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
While Ryan Raburn's second straight year of a second half surge is intriguing, it's unlikely a result of the time of year or experience into the year coming into play. For his minor league career, Raburn actually produced better in May and June than any other time of the year. His big league career shows a 50 point higher OPS in the second half as opposed to the first half, but also shows a .288 BABIP in the first half vs. a .339 BABIP for the second half. Coincidentally (not), his ISO has remained constant over that time (right around .2) while his batting average between the two halves fluctuated 40 points, going from .240 to .281. So, in reality, his second half surges are likely some combination of unfortunate luck in the first half combined with more regular playing time for him in second half of seasons. Raburn is a versatile player that provides below average but serviceable defense at a number of positions. He's certainly upgradeable, but also isn't the biggest problem on the team. His second half surge is again just a product of things balancing between the two halves, and should be taken as such.
Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
Raburn is an interesting case, for sure. Even throughout his minor league career he has carried a reputation for being a streaky hitter and possibly a second half hitter. Unfortunately, big league clubs need players that can perform at an acceptable rate throughout the entire season. While many will suggest that Raburn hits better with regular playing time, his defense doesn't lend to a big league club putting him in the lineup every day. In my honest opinion, I think Raburn has enough attributes to contribute to a big league roster for quite some time. However, I also recognize he has considerable warts that suggest he may not be a player the Tigers should continue to employ as he reaches arbitration eligibility. It is my belief they can find comparably inconsistent offense on the open market, with better defense as a tasty side dish.
Bill Ferris, Senior Associate Editor, Major League Baseball
Ryan Raburn has a history of being a fairly competent hitter both throughout his minor league career as well as his time in the big leagues. His emergence as a legitimate threat with the bat has once again come with regular at-bats. This time the at-bats came in the absence of an injured Magglio Ordonez and the slumping Johnny Damon and Brennan Boesch. Why didn't Raburn put up these numbers early in the year? It's hard to say, but for his career his Aprils aren't that different than his Septembers (737 OPS for the former and 765 for the latter). In the end he's a guy who will post an OPS between 750 and 800 and the ups and downs for Raburn may just be a little more dramatic than most players. Those who want to dismiss Raburn's surge this year as the result of "playing without pressure" should remember how instrumental he was down the stretch last season in the heat of a pennant race with a .355/431/677 slash line in the months of September and October including the now forgotten game 162 in which he homered twice.
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
After a horrendous first half, it's nice to see Raburn swinging the bat the way he did in the second half of last year, but I don't know if it changes anything with him in the future.
Raburn is eligible for arbitration, and while I could see him returning as an offensive-minded fourth outfielder/DH, I don't see him as a fixture for the Tigers in the coming years.
One thing to watch over the winter is should the Tigers decide to cut bait with Carlos Guillen, Raburn could be a solid alternative as the team's designated hitter next year. We'll just have to wait and see how things play out.
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