I like Brian Bogusevic. I want him playing right field for the Astros pretty much full time for all of 2012. I want him to get at bats against left handed pitchers. There I said it. I think the only way he can get better at hitting lefties is to actually see a lefty. If the Astros were in a pennant race I would say he should be platooned, but unfortunately reality dictates what we should do, and nothing is at stake in 2012, so let the man play. I have modest hopes for him. I don't expect all-star campaign after all-star campaign. I know he is facing even more of an uphill battle than your usual right fielder since he got a late start on his hitting career. Sometimes when I watched him this season I thought I saw some parts of Luis Gonzalez in him or maybe a little Luke Scott...my knowledge of lefties is mostly limited to former Astro players, so please forgive me.
One similarity between Scott and Bogusevic, aside from which side of the plate that they bat from, is the fact that both made it to the majors at a later age than a team would hope for from a prospect. Both players also struggled in what little playing time they got in their first season and then had a good second season with the help of high BABiPs. So Scott gives us an example of an older prospect contributing to a MLB club. But they are not the same type of player. Bogusevic probably won't hit as many home runs as Scott. I have hope that he will be able to sustain a higher BABiP than Scott. First of all, Bogusevic seems to hit a few more line drives than your average hitter which should lend itself to more singles, doubles, and triples, and then there's the hustle factor. I don't doubt the hustle and the work ethic of a guy who had to face the disappointment of failing as a pitcher in the minors, and then had to rebuild himself as an outfielder good enough to make it to the majors. Are we really going to bet against him at this point?
I've seen some comments comparing Bogusevic to Chris Johnson of 2010. But I don't really see it. I know Bogusevic has gotten lucky some in 2011, but his BABiP hasn't been as high as Johnson's was last season. Also Johnson's walk rate has been worse than Bogusevic's in both the majors and the minors. Then when you take into account Johnson's poor defense and Bogusevic's solid-so-far defense, it is very hard to see a Johnson-esque regression/flop for Bogusevic in 2012(For the record, I haven't given up on CJ just yet).
Bogusevic's late start in the outfield bequeaths all sorts of hopes to me. So many of the rawer parts of his game could still improve even though he is a little late in cracking the Majors (not as late as Luke Scott mind you). Things like hitting against lefties, outfield routes, and plate discipline can improve with time and experience, therefore I hope Bogusevic's arm and defense will be good enough in right field for him to win some at bats against lefties. How else can he learn to hit them better? He doesn't have to be as good as he is against righties, he just has to hit better than .154 against them.
So there's a glimmer of hope for our youngish right fielder. His batting average will probably come down a bit because I think his BABiP will regress a little, but there are hopes that it will remain above average. He has shown a great arm in right...especially toward the end of the season. I wish I could say that I saw him enough in the field to know exactly how good he is, but I haven't. I know fangraphs rates him well, but I imagine more time will need to pass before we know for sure. He doesn't seem lost in the field and has some of the natural resources to be very good. I hope his defense will force the Astros to play him enough against lefties that he can improve his hitting against them and learn to swing a little less at pitches outside of the strike zone.
What are your expectations for Bogusevic? What would it take to make you happy? How about .275/.350/.450 with good defense and a feel-good story?