The two Biogenesis suspensions with the most on-field impact are easily the Rangers’ Nelson Cruz and the Tigers’ Jhonny Peralta. One leads his team in homers the other is his team’s starting shortstop. Both, assuming their suspensions start today, will be eligible to return for the playoffs if their teams make it there (Peralta could actually play the Tigers last three regular season games). The question is: will their teams allow them to return?
It’d be a less interesting question if Melky Cabrera didn’t happen last year. He was perhaps the Giants’ best hitter at the time of his suspension. Many believed — including some folks who happen to write for this august blog — that the Giants were sunk without him. Of course, all the Giants did was go out and win the friggin’ World Series with Melky watching from home.
The Rangers and Tigers are not so dumb that they’d likely see that as a cause/effect thing. In the aggregate you’re better off with good players on your team than without them on your team, so it’s not at all inconceivable that each of these miscreants is back in the dugout come October. But the factors which will go into the ultimate decision are likely numerous and varied and not all of them are based in terms of pure baseball analysis.
Whoever the Rangers put in right field — possibly Leonys Martin, who has been playing right while Cruz DH’s due to an injury — is likely to be a defensive improvement. The recently acquired Jose Iglesias is certain to be a defensive improvement over Peralta. The Tigers already have a lot of firepower in their lineup. While Cruz has been Texas’ biggest home run threat, the team has not been fantastic on offense overall. There are obviously team chemistry concerns at play, as many players on the roster are likely to either resent that their teammates cheated, resent that they didn’t appeal or both.
It’s complicated, in other words. And it’s doubtful that either the Rangers or Tigers will make up their minds until they’ve had several weeks to reassess their teams in light of the loss of their players.