Saturday, May 15, 2010

Brennan Boesch Plays 2010 Chris Shelton

If you are a Tigers fan at all, you remember the splash that Chris Shelton made back in 2006 with his monster start. While Boesch has started insanely hot in his chance in LF with Guillen being injured (again) do we expect the same kind of crash? Shelton was just ridiculous when he came up. Hitting for a ton of power and basically being the MVP of the league the first month+ of the season. Boesch probably has MORE power potential than Shelton ever did. Did I mention that he is a left hander? You know the mantra that Leyland has cried about needing one for 5 years when they didn't bother to go sign Adam Dunn.

Boesch has played 17 games since he was called up to play for Guillen, and not jsut in the field, but he has taken over the 5th spot in the batting order as well. He has stolen the job from Raburn who was just sent back down to the minors this week because he can't even compete with Boesch right now. Through just 17 games he has a .361 BA, 11 extra base hits, and 17 RBIs, which leads all AL rookies.

It isn't just the stats that have stuck out for most of us so far this year. It is how big some of his hits have been. Many of his hits have been game changers. Big doubles, or even triples that drove in runs to take a lead. Started rallies, and even helped ice games by tacking on some extra runs. IT almost feels like every time he drives in a run right now it is huge.

While Boesch may not have been a real big name on the list of upcoming Tigers prospects I know I have heard Dave Dombrowski mention him this off season as someone he thought was overlooked by most prospect gurus. There is no debate among scouts whether or not he has a lot of power. That is after all his calling card for most of them. True MLB power potential. Not just slight power. What they all have said though is that he has huge holes in his swing, and he just doesn't do well at recognizing pitches yet. I guess he's a quick learner, or he is just in a zone.

So far we have seen a guy that is locked in. What about why people say he would struggle? If you look just at his 2009 season in the minors you can probably see it just by looking at a few numbers. He had 33 BBs to go along with 127 strikeouts in just 131 games. His OBP was only .318 with a batting average of .275. This suggests to some degree that he is an all or nothing hitter in most cases. He had 28 HRs last year with a .510 SLG to go along with this. Power of Adam Dunn, with the K potential of Adam Dunn, but not the eye of Adam Dunn in his ability to take a walk.

What's going on so far this year in these areas at the MLB level? looks like these trends still continue in some fashion, but the high batting average skews some other numbers that you would expect to drop eventually. He has 9Ks in 17 games and only 2 BBs. This is definitely the same trend he had going in the minors. Of course he is so hot right now that these numbers don't really look that bad.

Now...we never know if a guy will just "click" and become an everyday player at some point. Boesch is certainly trying to make a claim to stay in the line up even when Guillen comes back. Sadly, there isn't much room for him to get into that line up with Guillen and Damon also having to rotate in LF and DH. This is the big concern I have in how he will be able to keep anything close to this level going. What happens when he has to only play 3 games a week? Will he cool off and never get back to this high level? Will he be able to adjust once again and keep hitting?

All conventional wisdom suggests that Boesch is going to fall off, and fall off significantly at some point. He should always have the power, but this level, by all accounts is probably playing way over his head. I guess all we can do is hope that he is closer to this than he is to Brandon Inge since he is still a pup that has to worry about acne treatments as much as he has to worry about playing ball ;).

Boesch was a Tigers third-round selection from California in the 2006 draft.

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