Brennan Boesch’s Disappointing Start to the Season

Brennan Boesch started the season as a fantasy sleeper for many people. He was to bat second for the Tigers, which he has in 14 games, with Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder hitting after him. He looked to be great source of Runs and maybe a bump in batting average as he would see better pitches to hit. Some people even predicted him to be a top 30 fantasy player. His season so far has been a disappointment with him hitting .213 and scoring a total of five runs. Today, I am going to look to see if he can be the fantasy player some people envisioned.

When looking at hitters this early in the season, awlays remember that we are dealing with small sample sizes. It is getting to the point in the season when some stats start to become significant, though. Brennan is currently at 63 plate appearances. Pizza Cutter published an article while back with the number of PAs it takes before a hitter’s stats stabilize. Here are some stats that Brennan has passed or is very close to reaching:

Swing % – under 40 PA
Contact % – under 40 PA
Senstivity and Response Bias (one of my homemade stats) – under 40 PA
Pitches/PA – under 40 PA
GB rate – under 40 PA
LDrate – under 40 PA
K rate – under 40 PA
BB rate – under 40 PA
GB/FB – 100 PA
HR/FB – 100 PA
HR rate – 100 PA

The biggest change for him has been the decline in the number of walks. In 2010 he averaged a 7.8% BB% and 7.4% in 2011. It has dropped to 1.6% this season. This value should not be one bit surprising. Teams are not going to walk him and then have to face Cabrera and Fielder. They are going to make Boesch beat them. The number of pitches that he is seeing in the strike zone has gone from 43% in 2010-2011 to 47% this season.

Now that he is seeing more pitches in the strike zone and not being walked, what is he doing with those pitches? His Swing% is the same in 2012 as it was from 2010-2011 when it was at 53.3%. When he swings, he is making just a bit more contact in 2012 (82.5%) than he did in 2011 (82.1%) and 2010 (78.3%). He Swing% and Contact% have not really changed.

His main problem is that he has a .240 BABIP after having a BABIP over .300 from 2010-2011. With him not walking, his ability to be on base to be driven in by the two big boppers depends on him getting hits. A .240 BABIP won’t cut it. Using his batted ball numbers, his xBABIP predicts a BABIP of .276. He looks to be a little unlucky on balls in play. Last year’s higher BABIP (.315) was driven by a higher LD% (18.2%) compared to 2010 and 2012 when it was less than 16%. His BABIP looks to be suppressed at the moment, but his ability to rebound to 2011 levels will require him to hit more line drives.

Brennan Boesch has been a fantasy disappointment this season. He needs to get on base for Cabrera and Fielder to drive him in. Since no pitcher is walking him, he will need to get on base via hits. He is displaying the same level of plate discipline as in past seasons. His main problem in 2012 has been his low BABIP cause by part bad luck, part not hitting the ball as hard. I would look for some level of rebound, but he needs to hit the ball with more authority to have the season some people anticipated.

We hoped you liked reading Brennan Boesch’s Disappointing Start to the Season by Jeff Zimmerman!

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Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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Spot in the order, in terms of seeing ‘more pitches to hit’, I believe, has never been proven and is a myth. Pitchers aren’t going to change from their strategy of attempting to get him out, however they may do so.

You’re putting forward evidence of a myth based on a SSS. That usually isn’t sound logic.


I also believe it has never been disproven that hitting in front of 2 bona fide stars will lead to far more hittable pitches being thrown your way. Lack of proof isn’t the same as proven to be false.


That may be true. However, I believe there have been studies done that have failed to find any statistical evidence of the same. Therefore, at this point, it is a myth that has attempted to be proven that hasn’t.

MLB Rainmaker
MLB Rainmaker

While I agree, the logic behind batting order protection is weak, there are a few key benefits of Boesch’s spot in the 2 hole:
1) Hitting behind Austin Jackson – AJs got a .360 OBP and is a SB threat, a combination that forces teams to either throw more fastballs to Boesch or risk a free bag for Jackson.
2) Runs – When Boesch does get on base, he’s likely to score with Fielder/Cabrera behind him. There’s only three guys with a OBP below .250 with more Runs than Boesch.
3) Finally, the idea of seeing better pitches in front of Fielder/Cabrera, which while weak, still means pitchers will be less likely to give Boesch a free pass — In 3 ball counts he can expect the ball to get a little more of the plate.