When Brennan Boesch was promoted from AAA Toledo to replace an injured Carlos Guillen back in April, he became an All-Star only in our hopes and dreams—and even then, not for several years. But only two months later, Boesch has become an I’m-not-kidding-you candidate to make the mid-summer squad—this season.
The move from AAA to MLB All-Star wouldn’t be without precedent. On April 12, 2008 the Tampa Bay Rays called up Evan Longoria, who went on to win the online ‘Final Vote,’ gaining the last spot on the All-Star team. He was batting .281/.354/.525 with 16 home runs when the voting ended (Boesch is currently at .344/.387/.631). You may also remember that Longoria later won the American League Rookie of the Year Award and played a role in the Rays’ run to the World Series. (I still can’t get over the fact that we saw Tigers, Rockies, and Rays in consecutive World Series’. How would that idea have been received in 2003?)
Right now, you won’t find Brennan at the top of most statistical leader boards. He’s still 26 plate appearances shy of qualifying, but his numbers certainly still are discussion worthy. His .436 wOBA (my offensive stat of choice) is the best among players with 170 or more plate appearances (Alex Rios is next with a .415 wOBA).
But what if we wanted to qualify him? If we could magically add 26 plate appearances to his total, it would need to be at a .272 (wOBA) pace (a shade above Scott Sizemore’s Major League season average) in order to match Rios’ mark. In order to remain in the top three of AL outfielders, he’d need just a .160 wOBA pace (not even Adam Everett could muster a number that low. So really, the only thing that currently stands in Boesch’s way of possibly being deserving of a starter’s spot is 26 plate appearances of worse than the worst current AL hitter (Brandon Wood of the Angels managed a .170 wOBA, he’s at the bottom of players with at least 100 plate appearances). (…)
Sadly, it doesn’t appear that Brennan will reach the required plate appearances to qualify him for the leaderboard before it comes time for the managers to fill out their rosters. The Tigers have fourteen games remaining before the July 1 voting cutoff date, which means Boesch should see 56 more plate appearances (at his current rate of four per game), leaving him 13 shy of the qualification mark.
But I don’t think that Brennan should be dismissed simply because he wasn’t called up until late April. If he remains competitive with the league’s top outfielders, I think he deserves a spot. So, what does he need to do in order to be in good position when the rosters are announced?
If he hits at a slightly above average wOBA pace of .349 (basically Austin Jackson’s season average) for the fourteen games until July 1, he’ll hit the .415 mark that Rios currently holds. And if he only manages a .287 pace (worse than Ramon Santiago), he’ll still hold a .400 wOBA which is in the same number that Magglio Ordonez currently boasts (he’s third in the AL, not counting Boesch). It’s very conceivable that Brennan will be in the All-Star discussion a month from now.
And after all this, I’ve only considered the top three outfielding spots. There will be probably eight outfielders selected, and currently a .380 wOBA would get you eighth place. In order to attain that total after his remaining 56 plate appearances, Boesch needs only to match Adam Everett’s season average of .211 (wOBA). Or thinking of it a different way, he could match Alex Avila’s far below average .304 pace for the next 56 plate appearances, and then receive zero credit for the 13 plate appearances he would require in order to be qualified, and he would still be hitting .382 (wOBA) on the year. That’s still better than the pace the eighth place (qualified) AL outfielder is currently setting (Austin Kearns, .379).
Of course, it still remains to be seen what pace he’ll actually hit at, but if the rosters were filled today, he certainly deserves a spot. I just hope that when the time comes for Yankees manager Joe Girardi to fill out his American League squad, he considers Boesch’s numbers before rejecting him based on his unqualified plate appearance total.
If you’re looking for more All-Star discussion, check out Call To The Pen. They have a nice piece up discussing each American League team’s top All-Star candidate.