DETROIT, MI - JUNE 06: Brennan Boesch #26 of the Detroit Tigers drops the line drive off the bat of Carlos Santana #41 of the Cleveland Indians in the first inning during the game at Comerica Park on June 6, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. The Indians defeated the Tigers 9-6. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Brennan Boesch may have suffered through his worst game of the year Wednesday against the Indians -- unfortunately the competition is pretty fierce in that category. If not his worst game of the year, Boesch suffered through his most symbolic one.
It started off in the first inning. A routine fly ball hit him in a bad spot -- the glove. He dropped it. That's bad enough on its own. When you consider the situation -- one on, two out -- it gets worse. The third out was dropped. Add to it that the next Indians batter hit a home run and you can see the problem. A 0-0 game became a 3-0 deficit. With a team struggling as bad as Detroit has been, that kind of gut kick is the last thing it needs.
The symbolism didn't end there. Boesch went 0-for-4 at the plate. He didn't get a ball out of the infield. One ball was grounded out to the pitcher. One ball was grounded out to the catcher when it squirted about four inches into fair territory. We're not talking about a bunt here. A swing resulted in the ball trickling a few inches past the plate.
Well then. Just another symbolic episode in the midst of two awful months for Boesch. He's now batting .222 with .254 on-base percentage a. .355 slugging. He's hitting a consistently below-average 15-16 percent line drive rate. He's hitting more and more easy-to-field fly balls -- both infield fly balls and the regular version -- as the season goes on. He's not walking. He's striking out. Dating back to May 26 -- a day after a two-hit, two-RBI day against the Twins -- Boesch has just two hits in 38 at bats (a .053 average). He's been awful -- you didn't need me to tell you that.
Just how awful is amazing. Walkoff Woodward's Josh Worn wrote a guest post for Beyond the Box Score on Wednesday, looking for the worst players -- using sabermetric stats -- of the 2012 season. Worn found Boesch (and Ryan Raburn) were both consistently among the five worst in baseball, no matter which version of WAR you like to use.
Boesch, somehow, has eluded serious criticism (up to this point, wink, wink) and is still finding his name written in Jim Leyland's lineup card every night. This could possibly be because there is literally no one who can play right field for the Tigers right now, though, as some suggest, even a cold body could produce more at this point than he has in the first two months of the season. A cold body could accidentally take a few walks.
Boesch has been known in the past for having cold stretches. But really, at some point you have to point out that the cold stretches are much longer than the hot ones. Boesch's career numbers are .261 average, .317 on-base and .418 slugging.
Lee Panas of Tiger Tales posted this stat on Twitter: Boesch is batting .238/.295/.369 in his last 940 PA.
Boesch has always been a below average fielder. He appears to be a below-average batter, too. That flies in the face of what many people thought before the season. But at some point, you have to reassess your thoughts.
Some time soon, the Tigers are going to figure that out. Maybe they already have. If there were better options in the minor-league system, maybe they would have already made a move.
Tigers hitting home runs -- of the solo variety
For a chunk of the season, it seemed like the Tigers couldn't hit for any power at all. Seeing as they're set up like a softball team, that is a big issue. They're not going to be going first-to-third on a single very often. They don't like to take walks. They need power. That was lacking.
Now they're hitting some home runs, but they're solo shots.Amazingly, 35 out of 54 home runs this year have been solo shots. That's 64.8 percent of home runs hit by the Tigers counted for just one run. Nine of the last nine home runs were solo. Detroit had a pair of two-run shots on May 27-28. The last three-run shot was May 22. They haven't hit a grand slam all year. (These stats all came from the Baseball-Reference play index.)
Contrast that with Detroit's opponents. Wednesday, Cleveland had a 3-run home run in the first inning and a two-run shot in the fourth. Two-thirds of their runs came off the HR. You only have to go back to last Friday to find the last grand slam hit against the Tigers -- Curtis Granderson of the Yankees did that.
You don't need me to point out it's hard for a team to win when its opponents are counting in bunches and it is counting by one.
Detroit has had base runners -- you remember quite a few games this year where eight, nine, 10, 11 were stranded. It has had home runs. For some reason, the base runners and the home runs just haven't come on the same night.
At some point, you have to wonder if that's a fluke or if there's something deeper going on.
It still seems like a fluky stat to me, yet ...