Placido: Second to none

Tigers second baseman Placido Polanco has produced a career batting average of .303.  And as Detroit tries to hold on to its slim lead over Central Division rivals Chicago and Minnesota, it will need him to recreate that magic.

With a little more than 30 games left in the long baseball season, the Tigers want to show all that they indeed have the right players and coaching staff to get into the Major League Baseball Playoffs.

“If the season ended today we would be in first place,” Polanco noted. “We got Carlos (Guillen) back and the additions of (Aubrey) Huff and (Jarrod) Washburn has made us an even better team.

“We have to keep playing at a high level as we close out the season. The talent we have on this team, we just have to grind out every game against every team.”

The Tigers are hanging tough, but the fact of the matter is they are 12-47 when out hit by opponents and 23-46 when they score four-or less runs.

The pitching has been the team’s strength, but when it is all said and done, hitting will be the vehicle that will carry the Tigers to the playoffs.

Batting second in the lineup, Polanco is the table setter and the steady influence that the Tigers need and must have as they close out the 2009 season.

He started the season slow, but recently he has been showing signs of getting close to the .300 hitter he has been since he came to the Tigers five years ago.

Polanco had his best year as a Tiger in 2007, when he hit .341, won a Silver Slugger, MLB Defensive Player of the Year, and, was a Gold Glover and MLB All-Star.

The 11-year veteran, who is one of the hardest batters in the American League to strike out and is considered one of the best hit-and-run artists, described himself, regarding his approach at the plate, as an “aggressive and contact” hitter.

“If I put the ball in play, something is going to happen for me to get on base,” he said. “An error or forcing the other team to make a play creates opportunities.”

Even if Polanco is not knocking the socks off with his bat, he has proven to be a valuable player with his glove. Most acknowledge him as the best defensive second baseman in the American League. In fact, during the 2008 season he committed his first error at second base since July 1, 2006 at Pittsburgh.  The error snapped a stretch of 186 error less games and 911 total errorless chances — both established Major League records for a second baseman.

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