Friday, May 21, 2010

Brennan Can Boesch the Ball with the Best of Them

Who is Brennan Boesch and why is he being mean to American League pitchers?

Boesch, pronounced "BOSH," as in the pro basketball behemoth, wasn't called up by the Tigers, he was unleashed.

For several seasons, Tigers fans have cried for a hefty lefty in their batting order.

Now here comes Boesch, 25, as if dropped from the heavens.

Boesch is a California kid, where they play baseball 12 months out of the year. It's no wonder that so many of our greatest American ball players have come from the Golden State; they can break out the gloves and bats in January and only pause for meals.

What Boesch is doing to the American League is nothing short of ridiculous.

Boesch showed up a few weeks ago, when Carlos Guillen began his annual trip to the DL.

This is supposed to be a hard game. Ted Williams, no less, has called hitting a baseball the most difficult feat in all of sports.

"They give you a round bat, a round ball, and tell you to hit it square."

It's a job where they put you in the Hall of Fame if you're successful 30 percent of the time. Sometimes they'll sneak you in for less than that.

Boesch has traipsed to the plate for 82 official at-bats and he has 29 hits. That's a 35.4% success rate. So where's he going, the Super Duper Hall of Fame?

It's not just that Boesch is getting hits at a robust clip. He's treating the baseball as if it took his dog away.

Boesch takes his round bat, swings at the round ball, and hits the ball square. We're talking four right angles worth of square.

They ought to check the cover of the ball after Boesch hits it, because it just might need re-lacing. If you listen closely, you can hear it scream in pain.

Or maybe that's the pitcher.

I haven't seen a raw rookie come to Detroit and hit the baseball with this kind of ferocity since, well, I don't know if I've EVER seen it.



Brennan Boesch

Boesch is a 6'6" beach bum from Santa Monica. He went to Cal University. He grew up watching the Dodgers. At age five, he says, he knew he wanted to be a big league ballplayer.

That was when he was 4'5".

He calls Brett Butler one of his idols, which is funny because he could fit Brett in his back pocket and take him out every once in a while to look at him.

Boesch hits righties, which you would expect. But he's all but laughing at lefties.

The percentages of baseball say that lefty vs. lefty is supposed to be a distinct advantage for the pitcher.

HA!

Boesch has six hits in 13 at-bats against southpaws, including a monster home run. That's a .462 batting average.

So much for your percentages.

Now, let's pause for a dose of reality.

Will Brennan Boesch keep this up? Will he still be in the rarified air of .354 when, say, September rolls around?

I don't know---he's 6'6" and 210 pounds. YOU tell him no.

Boesch was drafted in the third round by the Tigers in 2006, which means that 80+ players were selected ahead of him, which either means that he's a diamond in the rough, or that baseball's scouts and GMs had their heads between their butt cheeks for almost three rounds.

How do you miss a guy with the height and weight of a power forward, who swings a left-handed stick, and who played baseball in California, where you can't exactly hide?

Tigers manager Jim Leyland inserted Boesch fifth in the order when the kid arrived, behind Miguel Cabrera---essentially taking Guillen's place.

I mocked the decision.

Put a rookie behind an MVP candidate? Where's the protection in that?

Boesch is protecting Cabrera better than a 24/7 bodyguard.

The Tigers' lineup, from 1 thru 5, is beginning to look like poison.

Things get started with another rookie who's thumbing his nose at the big leagues, Austin Jackson---A-Jax. Then you have Johnny Damon with his 2,500 hits, followed by Magglio Ordonez, who won the batting title three years ago. Then comes Cabrera, who's making pitchers curl into the fetal position, sucking their thumbs.

Followed by Brennan Boesch, whose last name ought to be a verb.

"He Boesched that ball into the gap!"

Of course, once you get past the first five Tigers hitters, you can make hay again with your earned run average. But 1 thru 5 might Boesch the ball better than any in baseball.

The Tigers are in Los Angeles this weekend to play the Dodgers, Boesch's team of choice as a youngster.

He says he wants to meet the legendary Vin Scully.

I have to think that the feeling is mutual.

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