Ryan Raburn gets defensive, sort of

In case you missed it, I wrote last night on Ryan Raburn’s journey to a long-awaited starting spot and how this spring contrasts with so many previous camps where he had to try to win a roster spot. There’s definitely a sense that has finally arrived, but there’s still that sense he wants to prove himself on defense. He’s a little irked by the reputation he has picked up in left field after some high-profile miscues last year. From the story:

“I don’t understand why people give me such a bad rep,” he said. “Yeah, I’ve made mistakes, but so have a lot of other people. I’d like to see [others] go out every so many days … and try to do the best they can. They’re not going to be perfect, but there’s nobody in this game that is perfect.”

Raburn’s point: It’s hard to judge a utility player as an outfielder if he’s playing there sporadically while mixing in infield work. He’s getting all of his work in the outfield this spring, both in games and in workouts.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think there’s anything physically that should preclude Raburn from being a better outfielder. When he has made his gaffes, it hasn’t been because he couldn’t get to the ball. Either he takes a bad route or makes a bad read. The hope would be that the more repetitions he has, the better reads and routes he gets.

I can’t say I’ve seen all of Raburn’s work this spring; I missed the split-squad game in Clearwater where he tripled and homered. But I’ve only seen one Raburn misread this spring, which turned a line drive against the Blue Jays last Saturday into a jumping catch.

10 Comments

Ryan Raburn better be the LF’er. They paid him to be and he has done fine this spring. There seem to be certain players that get picked on and he needs to just ignore them and talk with his bat and glove.
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I love you, Rugburn.

Agreed Pup. I’ll have to read that Jason. Here’s my take. I think Ryan has the potential to be a better than average defensive LFer. He might be already. I’ve always liked Ryan and pulled for him and I believe he’s finally getting a well deserved chance to start. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do offensively given a full season.
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When he made those miscues last year, yes he looked about as bad as you can look. (Stick with me on this Ryan in case you actually check out our comments….)
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The thing is, he was asked to fill a niche that, lets give him some credit, may have been the most difficult on any team to fill. He played several positions along with DHing, and he did so being confined to spot situations. Plus, I think there is an unmerited stigma that the skill set needed to play the OF is somewhat inferior to playing the infield. It’s just different. Plays take longer to develop and errors out there always look worse. Outfielders need to maintain a higher level of concentration as they are farther from the action and get less chances to make plays. So when Ryan made mistakes we were less willing to forgive.
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From what I’ve seen Ryan has a very strong and accurate arm. He moves well especially going towards the foul line. Personally, I’m willing to accept an occasional misplay for the speed and arm he will bring to the position. Plus, in terms of pure hitting I think he’s one of the top 4 or 5 hitters on the team. We’re going to be pleased. Just my opinion.

I just created an account so I could comment on this. I have nothing positive to say about Ryan Raburn’s abilities as an outfielder. Whether he is jumping for a home run ball(glove turned the wrong way) or him trying to pick up a ball he just dropped(in the process, kicking it into the stands for the double error) he is making a fool of himself. I really hope he doesn’t suck this year because it looks like he will be a regular in the lineup. I am 17 yrs old and I know when I stopped playing baseball 3 yrs ago that I was still a better defensive player than Raburn(I’m not just talking about my age group). That fool doesn’t have a clue when he is in the field. He is trash. Thanks.

Don Kelly was moved around as much as Raburn and played GREAT defense at every position he played.

I don’t think Raburn’s skill in LF can be reasonably assessed until he’s played the position on a regular basis for longer than a few days at a time. I would suggest a wait and see attitude. I know people love to have a whipping boy but I don’t believe any of the players on the current Tigers team deserve insults. These are good guys. We didn’t always have that here.
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–Rich

Yes, I think that it is a little early to rush to judgement on any player on this team! New year new life!

have always viewed the corner OF spots as offensive first positions, so though defense matters there, not nearly as important. can always place a D sub late in the game if you’ve got a poor defender out there. if a player like Raburn hits, his defensive lapses will be forgiven. on the flipside, a great defensive OF who can’t hit much is the 25th guy on the roster or languishing in the minors. consider the entire package of skills the player brings to the game, and don’t nitpick the flaws.

Looks like this thread has generated a range of opinions on Ryan, and it’s just a small sample. I agree Rich, it’s to early to tell. I figure if I’m right half the time I’m doing well:-) So I’ve stuck my neck out a bit. If the experiment goes south, you are welcome to remind me that crows are, in fact, good eatin’. If Ryan does well I’ll be reminding the naysayers as well.

one other thing…seems to me that minor issues like Raburn’s defense are focused on because there is so little of importance to attend to as a fan this time of year. the game results don’t mean much at all. there are things going on within the game that matter, like runners getting good leads and jumps or pitchers seeing how hitters react to a new pitch, but most of that doesn’t show in the boxscore. for instance, leyland said furbush threw the ball well yesterday, but you’d think it was a lousy outing based on the numbers he put up. distilled, it seems to me that spring training is simply about figuring out who is injured and out to start the season and who gets the first shot at available jobs on the roster. the rest is noise.

Raburn simply isn’t a ‘natural’ fielder, with teams lucky to have any players on the roster who are. The majority of players have to be given time in a position.

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