Will Rhymes a rare Tiger rookie to bat .300
BY JOHN LOWE FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER
October 15, 2010 06:16 AM
Second baseman Will Rhymes became the first Tiger in more than 70 years to hit at least .300 in his first season while having at least 200 plate appearances, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
The last Tiger to do it before Rhymes was Barney McCosky, who in 1939 played the full season and hit .311.
Harvey Kuenn gets left out of this group because he didn’t have 200 plate appearances in his first year. But he continued to qualify as a rookie the next season, 1953, when he hit .308 and became the American League rookie of the year.
Rhymes wasn’t even in major league camp this spring; he was assigned to the minors before he ever got to Florida. Six months later, sitting in the clubhouse after the last game of the season, Rhymes said, “I ended up kind of far from where I started.”
Rhymes, 27, got his chance because Carlos Guillen got hurt twice. On his final at-bat of the season, Rhymes needed a hit or a walk to finish at .300. The left-handed hitter faced Baltimore’s Mike Gonzalez, a hard-throwing left-hander.
In this one moment, Rhymes encapsulated the determination that took him from being a 25th-round pick to someone who could get most of the playing time at second base next season.
He lined Gonzalez’s pitch to left-center for a double. That put his final average at .304. Hello, Barney McCosky.
Rhymes impressed Tigers officials enough that he has a chance to become the team’s primary second baseman in 2011.
“After I relax a bit, I’ll start looking forward and thinking about goals for next year,” Rhymes said.
If Rhymes wants to make one of those goals hitting .300 for a full season, he has an idea what it takes to do that.