Brennan Boesch. Miguel Cabrera. Prince Fielder. Delmon Young. Alex Avila. Those are the Tigers' project 2-6 hitters, the core of a lineup with such lethal potential that has even the most seasoned pitchers quaking with fear. But this year, even with this deadly of a lineup with so many sluggers, opposing teams might have someone else to fear. That man is none other than
Yeah. Ryan Raburn. Him. "Well, what about the usual first-half slump?" some may ask. The average M Live or Facebook commenter may hate Raburn with a burning, fiery passion, but the educated fan really shouldn't. Wanna know why?
Let's take last year for example. Raburn started off with a relatively decent April before free-falling in May to a brutal .113 average. Of course, most people (including us at times) grumbled and groaned about this predictable outcome. What most people didn't really think about was that Ryan had completely broken his finger in early May. Many Tiger fans knew this, but attributed Ryan's rough first half to preconceived patterns.
But hello?!? Of course a broken finger could be potentially damaging to Ryan's productivity. As soon as his finger healed up Ryan slugged his way to .275, .323, and .383 in July, August, and September respectively. Imagine what that kind of offense could be like year-round, alongside Miguel Cabrera and Prince Freaking Fielder??
In fact, Raburn has definitely already shown that he has a potential for a breakout year in Spring Training. Not that we put too much stock in anything that has to do with Spring Training numbers, but our beloved hayseed has exploded for 4 homers and 14 RBI in 15 at bats. Holy crap. He has been the most productive player on the team, and that should give him some kind of credit.
Unfortunately, until he starts making noise throughout the whole season, and not just the second half (it's due to injury! Don't forget that), he will still be a controversial figure for Tigers fans and an ever-suffering scapegoat. Let's stop the madness. We need to put an end to the constant Raburn-bashing and start appreciating him a little--no, a lot--more.
Please, Ryan, just stay healthy. Please. For our sake and especially yours.
(We're not making any excuses for his defense though. Good Lord. Some people just can't be helped.)