Tigers 2013 Player Preview: Can Brennan Boesch be useful?

Jonathan Daniel

Brennan Boesch his the proverbial wall in 2012, bombing out after much hype. Can he finally live up to it a year later? Of course, he'll have to play his way off the bench first.

Just 29 days until pitchers and catchers report. 29 days!


Brennan Boesch

#26 / Right Field / Detroit Tigers

6-4

235

L

L

Apr 12, 1985


What happened last year?

Brennan Boesch entered the season backed by a boatload of hype. He was on so many fantasy baseball "sleeper" lists he could hardly be classified as a sleeper any more. For good reason, too. Slated to hit behind Austin Jackson and before Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, he'd been handed the keys for success. Boesch had shown he could string together large swaths to success at the plate from both a power and average standpoint. It was time to take the next step.

Well, there is theory, and there is fact.

In fact, Boesch's season was a huge disappointment. He started slow, teased seldom, then reverting to disappointing form. That this was a player who had to rely on his offense to be useful because his defense was sub-par only made matters worse.

By the end of the season, he'd been passed by on the depth chart and his future in Detroit was uncertain.

Boesch' s batting average, on-base percentage and slugging average were all career worsts in 2012. Despite having more at-bats than at any point in his MLB career, he also had a career-low for HR. He did have one career-high anyway: strikeouts.

All in all, 2012 was a forgettable year for Boesch. Unfortunately for him, we're not given to lapses in memory around here.

What needs to happen in 2013?

Boesch needs to get back to being Boesch. Whatever that means. His lack of success must have played a lot of mind games or something, because his numbers are just so strange.

This used to be a batter who'd take a few walks. In his rookie campaign he walked in 7.8 percent of his plate appearances. Last year, just 5.2 percent. His line drive percentage was up but his ground ball percentage was up, too. And you know Boesch isn't going to outrun a lot of those.

Mainly, he's going to have to be a good pinch hitter and a guy with some consistent power. That's the role tasked for him: Come off the bench and hit it far. There aren't a lot of guys like that on the Tigers' bench right now. If he can succeed there, he'll be in a pretty safe position.

2012 stats / 2013 projection
GP BA OBP SLG HR RBI SB BB SO
2012 132 .240 .286 .372 12 54 6 26 104
2013 121 .266 .320 .430 13 53 5 27 78

*Stats and projections via Fangraphs.com

The part where I am supposed to predict something

Boesch is just so hard to project. His periods of success make you think he's capable of repeating that ability. His periods of failure seem to go on forever -- or at least for seemingly the entire 2012 season. It's hard to see things changing dramatically there.

The rope is likely shorter for him, but if he fails maybe he can recapture his past performances a bit with a stay in Triple-A.

The future is knocking on the door. Boesch had better make sure he's the one to answer it or he'll quickly be left behind.

I predict we haven't seen the last of Brennan Boesch -- possibly to our chagrin.

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