Every so often, it seems that a young player gets off to a great start to their major league career and it’s all downhill from there. So far in his career, Brennan Boesch has been one of those men. Boesch saw MLB action for the first time in 2010, and batted a respectable .256/.320/.416 in 135 games. The young right fielder improved upon that in 115 games in 2011, hitting .283/.341/.458, showing the ability to get on base and hit for a little bit of power. However, everything went south for Boesch in 2012 and has kept going straight down since then.
Boesch was penciled in as the Opening Day right fielder in 2012 against the Red Sox and went 0-4 to start off the year in what would become typical fashion for the then 26 year old. In 132 games last year, Boesch put up some disappointing numbers as he batted just .240/.286/.372, with a lower walk rate (5.2% compared to 7.4% in 2011), isolated power (.132 compared to .174 in 2011), and UZR (-18.6 compared to 8.6 in 2011), while increasing his strikeout rate (20.7% compared to 17.6% in 2011). Despite all this, advanced stats show that he wasn’t terribly unlucky as his .284 BABIP is not too far below average.
That season, coupled with a rough spring that’s seen him hit only .188 so far, has culminated in his release from the Detroit Tigers earlier today. There’s always some action on the waiver wire when a young outfielder with potential is available, and that’s been true today as MLB Trade Rumors suggests that the Yankees, Astros, Mets, and Red Sox have shown interest.
It makes sense that the Red Sox may be interested; their left-handed backup outfield/first base spot is still up for grabs. However, even with this opening, there doesn’t really appear to be room for Boesch. For instance, Boesch has no experience at first base while Mike Carp, Lyle Overbay, and Daniel Nava all do. Being left-handed, it would make sense for him to platoon with Jonny Gomes in left field, but he doesn’t have major splits. Although his .244 average against right-handers was better than Gomes’s .209 mark, his on-base percentage (.284 to .324) and his slugging percentage (.387 to .391) were both worse.
It’s possible that Boesch’s shaky 2012 was due to injuries, he did miss the end of the 2011 season with a torn ligament in his hand. If he’s fully recovered from that, maybe he’ll get back to his former self. After all, his good seasons in 2010 and 2011 were not as lucky as Mike Carp’s good season in 2011 (.343 BABIP) and he does hit better against right-handed pitching. I don’t think it would hurt to hand Boesch a minor league deal and see if he could prove himself at Triple-A Pawtucket. If he can, the Red Sox have a top notch platoon going with Jonny Gomes. However, even if the Red Sox sign Boesch, I expect it’ll be Carp on the bench to start the year.
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