Curtis A. Clark. 21st July, 2005 - 12:36 am
Opposing teams haven?t pitched around Chris Shelton yet, but they may have to if he continues his red hot hitting.
On the season Shelton is hitting .356, with 9 homeruns, 33 RBI?s, and 28 runs in just 144 at bats. To put those numbers in perspective Shelton has only failed to register a hit in 9 of the 42 games he played, with 5 of those coming before he became a regular starter. If he qualified, his .597 slugging percentage would be 4th in the league and his average would be 2nd.
With a healthy Tigers' lineup heading into the second half, Shelton?s numbers could even improve. Having Placido Polanco, Brandon Inge, and Carlos Guillen in front of him, and a healthy Magglio Ordonez and Ivan Rodriguez following him, could produce numbers like fellow 1st basemen Derreck Lee and Albert Pujols. He already has one fan in manager Allen Trammell.
"He's shown us a lot," Trammell said. "I think the point with Chris is that he really has a good swing."
Suffice to say Shelton is making his mark. So much so that the Tigers are having a hard time finding a place for fellow 1st baseman and DH, last years All Star, Demitri Young. Young has been in, out, and around the lineup the last two months.
Shelton was called up on May 31st to replace struggling Carlos Pe?a at 1st base and has not disappointed. In fact it?s hard to remember the Tiger?s lineup without him. Early in the season the Tiger?s were missing power players Magllio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen. Perennial All Star catcher Ivan Rodriguez showed up 20 pounds lighter and suddenly the Tigers were thinking small ball. A few healthy players later, coupled with the emergence of Shelton, and the Tigers are looking to be as lethal as they were in the 80?s.
The rest of this season is important for Shelton and the Tigers. They are within wild card contention for the first time this late in the season in years. More importantly though they have a chance to finish above .500 and create great momentum going into 2006. With a new stadium, talented young players Bonderman, Inge, and Shelton, along with great pitching prospects Justin Verlander and Joel Zumaya, the Tigers may have a chance to creep into the wild card next year.
As of now Tigers fans will just have to wait and watch. Every game Chris Shelton gives them a glimpse of his promising career and the Tigers future.
On the day this article was written Chris Shelton went 3 for 5 with 1 homerun, 3RBI?s, and 2 runs, while batting 3rd in the order. The Tigers beat the first place Chicago White Sox on the road 8 to 6.