A week and a half from now what do you expect the Detroit Tigers outfield to look like? At the beginning of the season it appeared as though Austin Jackson in center, Brennan Boesch in right, and a combo of Andy Dirks and Delmon Young in left/DH would not only be good, but potentially a position of true strength on this team.
Jackson and Dirks have delivered on that promise with tremendous offensive seasons but are both currently residing on the DL. All indications are that Jackson will be back by this time next week, if not sooner, and that Dirks will be ready when he’s eligible to come off in about 8 days.
Most recently the Tigers have called up Matt Young from Toledo. He debuted by striking out in all 4 of his plate appearances on Tuesday night. He’s obviously not here to stay once Jackson and Dirks are back.
Perhaps the most interesting thing I found surrounding Matt Young’s call up was what Jim Leyland said about him prior to Tuesday’s game. The venerable skipper went on record with this nugget, “I’m not into that geek stuff with the numbers, but he does have a pretty good on-base percentage.”
True statement. Young was getting on base at a .431 clip in Toledo. Four strikeouts aside, he should be a reasonable option for the next week or so, and then he’ll be gone.
I wonder if Brennan Boesch was within earshot when Leyland let out that unfortunate comment. If he was, I’m sure it brought him great comfort.
Let’s do a quick breakdown on how to win baseball games. Ultimately, you have to end up with more runs than the opposition. You get runs by driving in runners with men on base. In order to do this, you must have runners on base. You get on base by having solid on-base skills. With guys like Boesch and Delmon Young on the roster this is becoming increasingly difficult.
After a decent May, Boesch has begun to freefall again. His average is at .226 and his on-base % an unsightly .259. He has 208 at-bats to his credit and just 8 walks. He’s never been adept at taking walks but his current pace is confounding.
As much as Ryan Raburn needed a mental break in Toledo (he’s off to a 3 for 18 start by the way), so does Boesch. He is completely lost. He basically swings at everything and his barrel of the bat contact this year has been wildly off the mark. The only plausible reason I can think of as to why he is still up with the big club right now are the injuries to Jackson and Dirks.
Quintin Berry has represented himself well since coming to Detroit. I do not think he is a long term leadoff hitter, but I do see him as an intriguing 9-hole hitter once Jackson returns.
Don’t be surprised if Berry temporarily finds himself in left field when Jackson comes back. And likewise, when Dirks returns to left, Boesch might be the odd man out with Berry overtaking his duties in right while the struggling lefty hops on the bus back to Toledo. Of course, for this to all play out, Berry must remain solid, and that’s no guarantee.
A defensive outfield of Dirks-Jackson-Berry would be pretty solid. Lock down defense has never been Boesch’s calling card, which puts him in the same category to me as Delmon Young – if you aren’t going to hit, then what good are you to the success of the team?
Delmon has perked up a bit lately but Boesch has been terrible with the bat in his hands. He now looks completely dejected and void of confidence.
Back in 2010 when Brennan got the call to come to Detroit I commented in an article that he had the look of a player that would never again play in the minors. That look is gone.
Fortunately for him, he plays for a manager who doesn’t apparently value on-base skills, seeing them as too geeky to get into. So who knows, he may be around for longer than I think. But if his train keeps rolling down this track, he has exactly until Andy Dirks comes back to get his act together.
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