Boesch, Sanchez named June's top rookies
Tigers outfielder, Marlins first baseman put together hit streaks
There's no doubt about it, rookies have made their mark throughout the big leagues in 2010, and June offered more of the same. So, this season, it's all the more impressive to be recognized at the top of the class.
On Tuesday, the recent accomplishments of Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez and Tigers outfielder Brennan Boesch earned them Gillette Rookie of the Month honors for June in the National and American Leagues, respectively.
It's the second consecutive monthly honor for Boesch, who led Major League rookies in a bevy of offensive categories in June, including hits (35), RBIs (23) and home runs (eight).
Boesch managed a hit in 21 of 27 contests last month, at one point constructing a seven-game hit streak. Perhaps even more impressive is that he tallied 11 multihit games, becoming such an offensive force at the plate that he forced manager Jim Leyland to keep him in the lineup, despite having to juggle four outfielders.
"I just think I'd look pretty foolish to take him out right now," Leyland said in the midst of Boesch's stellar month.
Boesch has shown himself to be thoroughly impressive at the plate, but the Tigers will need him to replicate his 31 extra-base hits in the season's second half, as they try to separate themselves from the Twins and White Sox. The value of a strong performance each day until season's end isn't lost on Boesch.
"If we learned anything from last year, every game matters," Boesch said, "especially when you're competing against the Twins, who battle every game and are a good club."
His fellow winner, Sanchez, hasn't found himself in quite the early pennant chase that Boesch has, but if the first baseman continues his tear, the Marlins could be a force to reckon with in the National League East.
Sanchez caught fire at the plate in June, hitting a sizzling .375 with four homers and 16 RBIs. His stellar June left him at the top of his team, batting .308 on the season. He leads all NL rookies in batting average, hits (90), doubles (19), total bases (140), on-base percentage (.373) and extra-base hits (30). The power numbers are a bit surprising, but Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez thinks it's not all that shocking.
"He can hit 15-18 home runs over the season, but he's more of a line-drive hitter," Rodriguez said. "He makes hard contact consistently. A lot of his line drives can get out of the ballpark. I still believe he's a gap-power hitter. Once in a while, he's going to run into some pitches up in the strike zone, and that's going to happen."
Regardless of his categorization, Sanchez has shown -- especially in June -- that he can flat out hit. He proved that with an eight-game hitting streak early in the month, followed by a stint in Baltimore that saw the rookie hit .615 over a three-game set.
Sharing the rookie spotlight in Florida with the slugging Mike Stanton, Sanchez has caught the eye of his manager and teammates as a possible Rookie of the Year candidate. But he's not letting his numbers overshadow his team's results.
"I would say those are just numbers," Sanchez said. "When the season is over, I'll step back and look at all the numbers. Right now, I'm not concentrating on my individual stats. I'm concentrating on trying to win ballgames."
Bailey Stephens is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.