Going into 2012, Brennan Boesch was a star waiting to break out with the Detroit Tigers.
Just one year later, he’s a player buried within the depth charts, with neither the health nor the opportunity to show that he could still be the 1.7 fWAR player with the .283/.341/.458 triple-slash in 2011.
After the Tigers went out and signed Torii Hunter to take right field at Comerica, Boesch is a man without a position. A disappointing -1.3 fWAR in 2012 that say him hit just .240 has him buried in the depth charts; despite his intriguing power/speed combo, Boesch was a defensive liability (minus-9 defensive runs saved, -18.2 UZR/150), and his drop in walk rate (from 7.4 percent to 5.2 in 2012) saw his OBP drop to the dreaded sub-.300 range.
Simply put, Boesch was hurting the team more often than not.
Worst yet, the lefty can’t even count on a hot streak in spring training to show otherwise. As a result of a an oblique injury that the team is being cautious with, Boesch hasn’t had a chance to take the field in an exhibition game, and it might be days – if not longer – before he’s healthy enough to do so.
Naturally, there’s going to be the tendency to want to come back as early as possible, but he can’t risk that either – not when an aggravation will really put a damper on any chance he was of contributing to the Tigers’ run this season.
So, at 27-years old and headed in what is supposed to be his prime, Boesch and his 25-homer potential waits.
But for what? Tigers manager Jim Leyland loves Andy Dirks (who was also injured) in left field, and it’s not like Boesch can platoon with him as they’re both lefties. Beyond that, there’s Avisail Garcia and and speedster Quintin Berry who are likely ahead of him as backups because of their ability to play all three outfield spots.
Oh, and not to mention, top prospect Nick Castellanos is tearing it up in spring, with five hits in nine at-bats as the team’s current left fielder of the future – until they decide to move Prince Fielder or Miguel Cabrera to DH, anyway.
That doesn’t leave Boesch with a whole lot of options as a sixth outfielder, and it’s not like the Tigers can trade him either – not while he’s hurt.
It’s bad enough for a player in his prime to know that his days with his team might be quickly coming to an end; that Boesch can’t even do anything about it to prevent that from happening might be the worst kind of punishment by the baseball gods yet.