As a rookie in 2010, Detroit Tigers outfielder Brennan Boesch surprised everyone, hitting .342 with 12 home runs before the All-Star break.
But as hot as he was before the Midsummer Classic, Boesch limped to the finish line, hitting just .163 with two home runs the rest of the way.
Because of that lengthy slump, expectations were tempered as Bosch entered his second season with the Tigers, but the Santa Monica native delivered a strong sophomore campaign before he was sidelined the final five weeks of the season with a thumb injury.
He finished with a .283 avg., .341 OBP, 16 HR and 54 RBI.
After missing out on an opportunity to participate in the playoffs last season, Boesch is eager to return to action, but after the addition of Prince Fielder to the Tigers’ lineup, he has to be salivating.
On Tuesday, when news first broke that Fielder was coming to Detroit, Boesch joined MLB Radio to share his preferred spot in the TIgers’ batting order.
“If I am hitting behind them, there’s probably not a lot of RBIs on the table,” Boesch said. “I’m hoping I can hit in front (of Miguel Cabrera and Fielder) and can score a lot of runs for these guys.”
Good news Brennan, on Thursday manager Jim Leyland said he’s planning on batting you second, right in front of that pair of big bats.
While Boesch proved to be a capable big league hitter last season, he will have two of the most feared batters in the game behind him. Opposing pitchers can’t afford to let Boesch reach base on a free pass, so he will see some of the best offerings of any player in big leagues.
If this season is anything like last, Boesch is ready to reap the rewards.
In 2011, Boesch played appeared in starting lineup 108 times. In 46 of those games, he hit directly in front of Cabrera. The difference in Bosch’s production in those games is remarkable.
When hitting in front of Cabrera, Boesch had splits of .328/.373/.556 in 186 at bats. He also hit 11 home runs and drove in 32 runs in those situations. In his remaining 242 at bats, those splits plummeted to .248/.317/.697 with just five homers and 22 batted in.
No wonder he wanted to hit in front of Prince and Cabrera.
Let’s be clear, Leyland is a tinkerer when it comes to batting orders. Last season he used 127 different combinations, never using any one lineup more than seven times. What we know for sure, barring injury, is that Cabrera and Fielder will hit three and four in the lineup, and Boesch will get the first crack at hitting in front of them.
If he produces anything like he did last year hitting in front of Cabrera, Boesch is primed for a monster season.