Brandon Wood with Provo in July 2003.
Let’s get it out of the way now, because I guarantee you that after Brandon Wood strikes out for the first time in the big leagues some self-appointed expert on the MLB.com Angels Bulletin Board will declare that (a) it’s Mickey Hatcher’s fault so he should be fired, and (b) Wood was overrated so he should be dumped as soon as possible.
While the tinfoil-hat crowd sharpen their knives, those of us in the reality-based world know not to expect much from Brandon’s first major league stint.
All you have to do is look at what happened last year when Howie Kendrick got his first call. He struggled mightily, as does pretty much every other rookie when he gets his first promotion to the major leagues. The most difficult leap for any player is from Triple-A to the major leagues. The game is faster, more intense, the pitchers have pinpoint control, their stuff is nasty, and batters rarely see mistakes.
Mike Schmidt made his major league debut at age 22. In 34 AB, he had an AVG/OBP/SLG of .206/.325/.294. The next year, his first full major-league season, he hit .196/.324/.373. He struck out 136 times in 367 AB — or about once every 2.7 AB.
And yet, somehow, he turned out all right.
Chone Figgins starts his rehab assignment tonight with Salt Lake, where he’ll play third base, Wood’s position. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. When Figgins is ready, he and Wood will simply switch assignments. Chone will return to Anaheim and Brandon to Salt Lake. This way, Wood gets a few days of big-league experience, which he will take back with him to Triple-A. That experience a year ago helped Kendrick immensely, and it should do the same for Wood.
So let’s keep in mind that Brandon is all of 22 years old and not declare him a “bust” just because he isn’t quite ready for the Hall of Fame.