When it comes to polarizing sports figures in Detroit, Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge has to rank near the top of the list. Inge, who has spent his entire career with the Tigers, is either adored or hated by most fans.

The section that loves him praises what he brings to the table defensively and believe his offensive contributions are adequate enough. Plus they like they way he hustles and think he is a high character person to have around. The other section isn’t impressed with a guy that has a .237 career batting average and strikes out a ton.

Brandon Inge will make $5.5 million the next two seasons after agreeing to a two-year deal with the Tigers on Thursday. Inge, who has been with the Tigers since 2001, has hit .237 with 136 homers over his career. (Brian Calloway photo)

I don’t fall into either of these sections, but do believe it was good for the Tigers to bring back Inge for a two-year deal for $11 million, which was announced on Thursday.

Some may believe the Tigers are continuing to reward players for being mediocre with the signing. In reality, the Tigers weren’t going to find too much of an upgrade at that position if they opted to go the free agent route. There also is no true replacement for him in the farm system.

Adrian Beltre was one of the most talked about players that the Tigers should pursue. Beltre was an All-Star this season and hit .321 with 49 doubles, 28 homers and 102 RBI with Boston. However Beltre never even hit near .300 in the previous five seasons, which he spent with Seattle. His best average in those years was .276. And Seattle plays in a ballpark similar to Detroit’s Comerica Park.

So Beltre would have cost more and his production would have gone down likely. The costs to get Beltre could prevent the Tigers from addressing some more pressing needs, like getting a bullpen arm and adding a big bat or two.

In my mind, Inge is adequate enough at the hot corner. He is a Gold Glove caliber defender with a decent amount of range. Despite what some may say about his offensive abilities, the 33-year old drove in 70 runs in 144 games this season, which ranked in the upper half among all American League third basemen. Inge also hit .247 this season, which although is by no means great, but was his best average over the past four years.

The move will be even smarter if the Tigers do in fact keep Jhonny Peralta in the fold and make him their starting shortstop for 2011. Inge’s range would help compensate for Peralta’s lack of range and give the Tigers a decent left side of the infield.

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