Detroit Tigers – Five Players Who Turned Into Pumpkins
Brennan Boesch pulled off a very rare feat: he turned into a pumpkin twice. It was a shame too, because he was awfully fun to watch in the batter’s box. A 3rd round pick out of Cal in 2006, Boesch didn’t reach the majors until he was 25, but once he arrived he announced his presence with authority.
Through 65 games in 2010 (up to the All-Star game) Boesch hit .342 with 12 home runs, and while his BABIP was elevated (.384), his walk (7.9%) and strikeout (17.6%) rates were reasonable. At the time he had produced 2.6 fWAR, which was good for 21st in baseball and ranked just behind Albert Pujols. He had massive raw power and a penchant for late, impactful homers. He probably should’ve been an All-Star.
But then he turned into a pumpkin. After the All-Star break he hit just .163 with 2 homers in 68 games. His walk rate (7.8%) stayed the same and his strikeout rate rose a bit (21.2%), but the killer for him was his BABIP, which plummeted to .201. It wasn’t just bad luck, as pitchers learned Boesch couldn’t lay off breaking balls low and inside. He didn’t always miss them, but he almost never hit them hard. He probably could’ve used a quick tune-up in the minors, but he didn’t get it, and instead went the final 43 games of the season without a homer.
Then 2011 rolled around and it seemed like Boesch had made the proper adjustments. He got off to a fast start, hitting .319 in April. He struggled through May, but then he went on a tear until the All-Star break, batting .372 with 8 home runs and 1.8 WAR in just 35 games. It looked as though he wasn’t a fraud, just an incredibly streaky hitter.
But once again, pumpkin season came early for Boesch. In the second half of the year he hit just .219 with 4 home runs. His collapse wasn’t as stark as the year before, but the symptoms were the same, including a higher strikeout rate and an 80-point drop in his BABIP. He didn’t have a chance to climb out of it (or dig himself deeper) because he tore a ligament in his thumb in September.
Brennan Boesch did hit a few more big home runs for Detroit…
…but this time he turned into a pumpkin for good. Boesch muddled through a rough 2013 season, batting just .240/.286/.372 with 12 home runs in 132 games, and the Tigers released him the following spring after they signed Torii Hunter. Boesch made his way to the Yankees, Angels, Reds, and Red Sox organizations, but he played just 101 more big-league games, and officially retired in 2017.