Since an 0-4 performance on September 17th, Brennan Boesch has seen baseball action twice. Both of those appearances were on Sunday in both games of the double header against the Twins. In the first game, Boesch didn’t even get an at-bat, entering the game in a blowout loss. In the second game, he entered late as well, going 0-2 in his two plate appearances.
2012 has been a rough year for the 27 year outfielder. Beyond the obvious poor offensive numbers for Boesch, he has been every bit as poor a defender. His value is among the lowest in all of a baseball for players that had been getting every day time. Maybe the most telling stat for Boesch is his OPS+ number of 79. That’s 21 points below average, and is really small considering Boesch is a corner outfielder.
When Boesch came to the big leagues, he was known as a free swinger. Those of us who follow Tigers prospects already knew that, but a funny thing happened. He caught absolute fire, and right away. Boesch’s incredible numbers early in 2010 belied the lack of plate discipline he showed, fooling many fans into thinking he was a better player than he was. Then the 2010 All Star break hit, and Boesch experienced a colossal collapse. Still, his incredibly hot start stuck with a lot of people and he finished 5th in the Rookie of the Year voting. The terrible second half may have tempered expectations but many were looking for Boesch to make adjustments.
2011 brought more excitement about Boesch as it looked like he was able to make those adjustments. Boesch was a key component to a playoff run, but again, most of his damage was done in the first half. He began slumping once again in the 2nd half before succumbing to a wrist injury and missing the rest of the season. Still, the 2nd season from Boesch was promising, and many predicted a breakout from the 3rd year outfielder.
The raised expectations for Boesch have all but diminished at this point. He didn’t get off to his normal hot start in the first half of the season, and that allowed for us all to see the warts in his game. His free swinging approach began to annoy fans, and his well below average defensive ability stuck out like a sore thumb. Couple that with the strong play of Andy Dirks and many began to wonder what Boesch was doing in the lineup at all, especially in August in September when fan favorite Quintin Berry was available as well. Yet, Boesch continued to get opportunities throughout the first couple weeks of September. In 15 games this month, he has hit .213. Berry hasn’t done much better, hitting .235 so far, but at least he adds the element of speed.
Dirks at this point is a no-brainer starter, and Avisail Garcia has done a decent job against left-handed pitchers.
With Quintin Berry receiving most of the starts against right handers in the past week to ten days, it begs the question, have the Tigers given up on Brennan Boesch?
I’m not sure the Tigers have yet, or more importantly Jim Leyland. But even he can’t deny the Tigers are a better team right now with him out of the lineup. Hence, the playing time that he has lost recently. Even if it is temporary, it seems the Tigers skipper has lost a little faith in Boesch.
Here is the thing with Boesch. He can be worth a spot on the roster. His prolonged hot streaks can help carry a team for a couple of months. Problem is, he hasn’t had one of those in 2012, and his approach to hitting might suggest he will have trouble doing so again in the future. Boesch is also first time arbitration eligible after this season, and there might be potential for him to be non-tendered. I think it is more likely the Tigers work out a deal with Boesch and then try to move him in a trade this off-season. A corner outfielder, even if it is one signed for a year or two is likely to be at the top of the Tigers list.
The bottom line is the Tigers are better with a Berry/Garcia combination manning the outfield with Dirks and Jackson right now. It may have taken a while for the Tigers to see it, but I’m glad they finally did.
What do you all think? Have the Tigers given up on Boesch?