Detroit Tigers: Put Akil Baddoo in the Rookie of the Year Conversation
The Detroit Tigers at the All-Star break have one player who has been spoken about in various circles and that is Akil Baddoo. But it is loud enough?
Living in Metro Detroit as a Detroit Tigers fan, you get caught up in the day-to-day grind that is baseball. You root for your favorite players and granted, you can sometimes forget to be objective.
We all have our local heroes (Don Kelly) and the half-seasons that are still whispered about (Brennan Bosech, Chris Shelton) whenever a rookie gets off to a good start. Then, you have actual stuff of legends like Mark Fidrych’s 1976 season.
But in terms from a national perspective, you tend to notice whenever a Detroit Tiger gets spoken about. Tigers fans are benefitting from another Minnesota Twins mistake that was highlighted in the Athletic this week ($) about players who have gone elsewhere and are succeeding. Akil Baddoo was on the list and author Aaron Gleeman points out that his numbers are better than two other Twins rookies in Alex Kirilloff and Trever Laranch.
He is getting his due in FanGraphs, where he made a unique list as one of the most underrated hitters in terms of their ZiPS projections where he was predicted for 200 plate appearances to have a wRC+ of 61 and he is currently at 121.
Akil Baddoo’s season in a Detroit Tigers uniform is rather historic.
With a minimum of 200 at-bats, in 81 games, only Fred Haney in 1922 at the age of 26 in his rookie season, got off to one of the better rookie starts. He would bat .352 and have an OPS of .862.
Baddoo is sixth in batting average at .271 but is just 3rd all-time behind Travis Fryman in OPS at .813.
So nationally, where does he ranked among the MLB Rookie Power Rankings? He is not listed (Casey Mize is so no issue with that, he deserves it) but one player, in particular, Jonathan India of the Reds comes in at number eight, which is fine, he is doing a good job at second base.
Baddoo was featured as honorable mention but looking at the numbers, among the rookies with 200 plate appearances and at least 50 games, Baddoo leads India in OPS .813 to .804 with Akil playing 71 games and India in 79.
Looking at this objectively, according to Statcast, his power numbers in terms of average exit velocity and hard hit% are in the “poor” category but he walks and he has 13 barrels on the season all while being place in various spots in the order, including leadoff, where he is batting .273 (18 for 66) so far with an OPS of .693.
But this number alone should make any national pundit stand up and applaud. He is hitting .400 with runners in scoring position in 50 plate appearances. (14 for 35) and an OPS over 1,000 (1.197).
He will continue to make adjustments, just how he did to turn around his early-season struggles but for a player out of Low-A to do what he is doing, despite missing nearly two seasons, Tigers fans hope that it can draw more of an interest as the second half kicks off tomorrow at Comerica Park. Baddoo deserves it.