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Top Level Sports

Akil Baddoo is the best story in baseball right now

Akil Baddoo (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Detroit Tigers rookie sensation, Akil Baddoo, has gotten the entire league talking about him. Baddoo is a Rule 5 draft pick, meaning that other teams can draft certain players from other teams that have too much talent stockpiling in the minor leagues. The catch is that they have to make and stay on the major league roster.

So in this instance, the Tigers took Baddoo away from the Minnesota Twins. If the Tigers chose not to have him on their major league roster, he’d end up going back to the Twins.

During spring training, Akil Baddoo made sure that he wasn’t going to go back to the minor leagues. He hit .325 in Spring Training, drew 10 walks in 50 plate appearances, and stole 4 bases.

He made the team, but he wasn’t likely to start many games until he proved himself.

Once he finally got a start in the third game of the season against the Indians, he hit a home run on the first pitch of his very first at-bat in the big leagues. An incredible feat in itself.

The following game, he hit a grand slam in a blowout loss to the Twins.

Baddoo hit 2 more home runs in the series sweep against the Houston Astros earlier this week. He’s hitting .370 with 4 home runs and 11 RBIs.

The most telling thing about Baddoo is his approach to the plate. He’s 22 years old, and he previously came from playing High-A baseball and then Low-A even after that. Yet he looks so comfortable when he’s facing some of baseball’s best pitchers. He works counts and adjusts his swing accordingly.

His story could be made into a movie if he continues down this path. He won’t hit .370 the whole year, but if he can continue to hit around .300 and get on base, he can play the outfield well and he seems to be a spark in the Tigers dugout. The other players are feeding off of him, which is probably a big reason they swept the Astros and are seemingly having a lot of fun playing together.

Baseball is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s only been 2 weeks since the season started, so there’s still a long way to go. But it’s amazing to see someone who has only played Single-A baseball in his professional career make the jump to the MLB. And not just make the jump, but actually contribute and be a major reason why the Tigers are .500 right now.

Perhaps MLB pitchers figure him out and he gets brought back down to Earth. It does happen that way more times than not. But, if Baddoo is anything special, he’ll adjust to the changes that the pitchers bring to him. That’s what great baseball players do.

Akil Baddoo (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Hopefully, for the Tigers and for Baddoo, this success lasts. It’s a great feel-good story and continues to dominate the MLB headlines every time he hits the ball. To skip Double-A and Triple-A and go right to the MLB is unheard of. That’s what makes this all so improbable and extremely compelling.

The odds were stacked against him in Spring Training, yet he showed he was one of the highlights of the spring. Now the odds are against him that he can be an everyday outfielder in the MLB.

So far, so good.



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