Boesch named AL's top rookie for May
Tigers slugger follows teammate Jackson in winning honor
DETROIT -- For the second straight month, a Tigers outfielder has won the American League Rookie of the Month Award. The May honors went to Brennan Boesch, whose torrid start at the plate turned what was expected to be a brief callup as an injury replacement into a full-time job well before anyone expected him to arrive.
Boesch led all Major League rookies with a .345 average (29-for-84), three home runs and 15 RBIs. He hit safely in 13 of his first 14 May contests, including a four-hit game May 15 against the Red Sox at Comerica Park and a 2-for-3, three-RBI game May 10 against the Yankees.
All the while, he has amazingly kept the same aggressive mentality at the plate, generally avoiding the bad pitches that so often trip up rookies after a hot start.
"I got in a little stretch where maybe I was trying to do a little too much, and that's not me," Boesch said after walking three times on Memorial Day. "I went back to just looking for my pitch. A lot of times when you do that, you end up working a walk because you are looking for your own pitch. I didn't change much. I was just trying to be patient and find a pitch I could drive. But in my opinion, you can't ever be too aggressive. You just have to stay in the zone. If you are swinging at strikes, that's your job."
That's the mentality manager Jim Leyland has wanted Boesch to maintain rather than get tentative. The way Leyland sees it, Boesch came to Detroit with nothing to lose, so he let his bat fly.
"I think he's made a big splash," Leyland said recently. "He's made a big impression. This guy has been lightning in a bottle, no question about it. I don't think I've seen anything like it for me."
Not only did Boesch have nothing to lose, he had an award to win. He follows up April winner Austin Jackson to become the second teammates in the past four years to win April and May honors, joining Boston's Hideki Okajima and Dustin Pedroia in 2007. By comparison, only two Tigers had won Rookie of the Month honors period prior to this season -- Justin Verlander in 2006 and Rick Porcello last year.
Ironically, both Verlander and Porcello won their awards in May, so the Tigers have taken May rookie honors in three of the past five seasons. Verlander and Porcello both built upon their awards to enjoy big rookie seasons, something Boesch hopes to repeat.
"It's pretty cool, following Austin," Boesch said Wednesday upon learning he had won. "It's a long season. I'm proud of what I've accomplished, but it's on to the next one. That's the way I look at it."
He'll get a chance to follow it up. Boesch hit so well filling in for the injured Carlos Guillen, who went on the disabled list in late April, that the Tigers juggled their lineup to fit both Boesch and Guillen into the same batting order once Guillen returned from the DL last week. The way Boesch has hit, Leyland said he would've been run out of Detroit had he tried to send Boesch back to Triple-A Toledo.
As it stands, Boesch entered Wednesday leading all American League rookie with 22 RBIs and a .564 slugging percentage. His .318 average ranked second among rookies behind only Jackson.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.