(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Starting this article off with a “small sample size” disclaimer would probably be wise, but this mere assumption would take away a lot of the zest Akil Baddoo has shown with the Detroit Tigers through the first handful of games in the 2021 MLB campaign.
Now, the rookie has not been completely perfect at the plate through his first four MLB contests. However, Baddoo has been pretty darn close to it. In fact, the 22-year-old outfielder has held the distinction of being one of the more clutch youngsters on a Detroit squad yearning for premier talent that will hopefully take them back to the playoffs.
So, what has Baddoo done to his credit so far through his first four games of MLB action? Well, let’s dig in, shall we?
In 11 plate appearances (again, small sample size) within those four games played, Baddoo has slashed .455/.455/1.182 with five total hits. Of those five hits, three have gone for extra bases (one triple, two home runs). Among all current 2021 rookies so far, Baddoo’s 1.182 Slugging Percentage (SLG) ranks first, as does his 1.636 On Base Plus Slugging (OPS).
However, the point of emphasis for Baddoo has not been the gargantuan slashing line, but in the hits he has stringed together.
No, scratch that.
More specifically, the situation in which he has collected said hits.
In his first career plate appearance against the Cleveland Indians on Apr. 4, Baddoo walloped an opposite-field bomb. On the first pitch, no less. In the following game (this time against the Minnesota Twins, the team that drafted him), Baddoo tallied an opposite-field grand slam. Then, in the game the very next day, he picked up a walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th inning.
In case you were keeping score, Baddoo’s line of work within his first three career MLB games was quite the feat: home run, grand slam and walk-off single. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, Baddoo is the first player in modern Major League history to do all three within the first three games of an MLB career.
Oh, but the history do not end there. When specifically looking at his grand slam game (Apr. 5), Baddoo is the first player since July 28, 2018 (Francisco Arcia of the Los Angeles Angels) to have a game where he picked up at least five total bases, four runs batted in (RBI) and one home run within a player’s first two career MLB games. When specifically looking at Detroit players that have fit the criteria, Baddoo is the first to do so since Aug. 7, 2009 (Alex Avila) and is one of only four total (Avila, Gabe Alvarez on June 23, 1998 and Lance Parrish on Sep. 7, 1977).
Now, to say Baddoo will be able to keep up the production is completely preposterous as it is naïve – Baddoo is only 22 years old and, again, small sample sizes are most definitely small sample sizes.
However, for a player who was selected by Detroit from Minnesota in the Rule 5 Draft less than four months ago and was thwarted from playing above Class A ball for close to two years due to Tommy John surgery and the COVID-19 pandemic, one should not complain. Not in the slightest.
Detroit certainly isn’t, and shouldn’t. If this is a mere taste of what the team can expect from the young player, they very well might smell postseason baseball again very soon.