10 days till Opening Day. I've really got nothing else to talk about because I'll be damned if I'm going to sit through 9 innings of a spring training game and analyze meaningless baseball. So, lets go over why Brandon Wood is going to have a renaissance season. AL Comeback Player of the Year, anyone?
Last spring, when the Third Basemen job essentially fell into Wood's lap, he was looking forward to it, but had a shaky spring. While he hit .278 with 3 Triples (random...), he looked uneasy at third, and only had 1 home run to go along with a .792 OPS (On Base Percentage + Slugging (Total Bases/At-Bats)). To compare: an average OPS is about .800, a really good OPS is around 1.000, and Albert Pujols averages a 1.1oo OPS. Needless to say, his power and ability to get on base were just ok... not something you are looking for in a Third Baseman.
So, you combine the slow start in spring to the fact that he never really had to earn anything, and maybe Brandon Wood took it easy. Maybe he had no concerns over Spring, and would get a fresh start in April. That never came, he played even worse than he did in spring, then became set back by injuries, then eventually lost his job to Macier Izturis, then got shoved even further down the Depth Chart when Alberto Callaspo came to town. Did Wood deserve this? Absolutely. He was one of the worst (if not THE worst) starting position players in all of the American League. He hit .146, with 4 whole Home Runs and a OPS of .382. Completely miserable numbers.
Brandon Wood's one saving grace? He couldn't get sent down to the Minors. Yeah, I mean, he could. The only problem is, he would have to get through waivers first, and if someone tries to claim him, he is stuck in Anaheim anyway. Last May or so, there was a very good chance he would get grabbed by a struggling team looking for any kind of offense. They could take a chance, and if he didn't pan out, its not a huge deal. Fast forward to today, however, Wood would probably pass through Waivers without much problem, if things get really bad, Wood could just get waived outright and be out of a job, and that's another motivating factor for the young "slugger".
Lets go over all of Wood's motivational tools (in case you missed them): He is third on the depth chart, he was the AL LVP (least valuable player) in 2010, he can wind up in Salt Lake or without a job pretty easily, and he has to earn EVERYTHING.
This kid's got the talent, obviously. You can't get drafted as high as he did, make your way through the minor league system, put up the numbers in Triple A that he did, and not have any talent. The problem seems to be his confidence. He changed his batting stance and swing just about every other at-bat last season, he mis-played balls in the field that a little leaguer could've handled, and he just looked like a nervous wreck at times last season. If he can build up his confidence in some pinch hitting situations, and the occasional spot start, Brandon Wood could turn out to be the player we all thought he would be.
In 2011, Brandon Wood should get a clean slate from all of us. Forget the disaster that was 2010, and if we all expect him to fail (like he probably still will (see what I did there...)), maybe we will get something special from this nice young man out of Texas.
(Ed. Note: I used parenthesis inside parenthesis TWICE in this article. I need to take a writing class or something....)